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B2B Ecommerce Guide: How to Start?

There’s nothing complex about doing business through a B2B Ecommerce platform. In fact, many businesses have turned to B2B Ecommerce solutions over the last couple of years as they were forced to adapt their business models to cope with the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic and the results have been impressive.

However, starting an entirely new B2B Ecommerce venture is still no small task and there are things that every B2B Ecommerce manager needs to know before they take the plunge.

This B2B Ecommerce solution guide will take you through everything you need to make your online adventure a success.

Who is B2B Ecommerce for?

Ecommerce can work for pretty much any type of business irrespective of size, industry or audience. Some fine-tuning might be needed to accommodate the needs of certain types of business but ultimately the purpose of B2B Ecommerce is always the same, to boost revenues, reach new customers and build working relationships through an online platform.

It really doesn’t matter how niche your B2B business is, you could sell reproduction Faberge eggs or kits for scraping barnacles off aircraft carriers, as long as there’s a market for it and people are searching for it, then the internet can be your marketplace.

Different types of B2B Ecommerce

Wholesale

Many B2C businesses buy all their stock through a wholesaler, making it one of the most recognised forms of B2B selling. If you’re a wholesaler, then setting up a strong, simple and effective B2B Ecommerce site is a great way to branch out to new clients and expand your business.

Manufacturers

Do you produce your own goods and then distribute them to other businesses who sell to the consumer?
If so, then there is a B2B Ecommerce solution for you. Furthermore, good Ecommerce stores can double up as a super effective marketing tool that can draw more people’s attention to your products and could also put you in a position to start thinking about starting a new D2C channel in the future.

Distributors

Even if distribution is the name of your game, there are plenty of B2B Ecommerce solutions that are perfectly suited to your business. Clients are always looking out for new deals and partnerships and making yourself visible online is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of bringing them to your doorstep.

Why you should start a B2B website?

The way people shop has changed forever. Many B2B businesses have managed to survive for years operating the old school way but now the internet is king and it’s B2B’s turn to climb aboard.

B2B ecommerce
When you’re selling, people expect they can buy from you.
That’s only one of the reasons why you should expand to B2B Ecommerce

Whether they’re buying anything from a pair of socks or a sofa, the internet is the first place that customers are going to look for what they want and if you’re not there, then they’re just not going to find you. Today’s market is all about convenience and the more customers have to look for you, the less likely they are to find you.

If you’re already an established B2B business with a healthy list of loyal clients, then you may be forgiven for thinking that this doesn’t affect you but staying offline could really damage your chances of acquiring new customers and could create significant problems for your business further down the line if you have to try and catch up with the competition.

Keeping up With Customer Expectations

As we’ve already mentioned, customers have come to expect to be able to get pretty much everything online. Taking this further, imagine if you were shopping around online and found the perfect products but instead of a simple purchasing option you were given a phone number and told to call between 9 and 5 to place your order.

What we’re trying to say is that even just having an online presence isn’t enough, you need to have a B2B Ecommerce platform that matches the intent of your customers and is at least on par with your competition. Modern customers demand convenience and any setbacks in their purchasing journey could force them to look elsewhere.

B2B buyers are Millennials

Millennial is no longer a buzzword for a lazy young person. This generation is now all somewhere between their late twenties and mid-thirties and forms the main demographic that is starting businesses of their own or working in procurement roles at other companies. Because of this, it’s essential that B2B businesses keep up with the expectations of this age group which, much like all other online customers, revolves around the idea of convenience.

Millennial B2B buyer
Millennials aren’t lazy, they just want things to move quicker

Remember, this generation has grown up in a time when face to face contact and firm handshakes mean a lot less than they used to, so you need to win them over in other ways and a strong Ecommerce store is a great way to do that.

Finding new customers

It doesn’t matter how comfortable you are, no business is really going to turn down new customers and Ecommerce is the best way to bring them to your business.

As we’ve already mentioned, there is a customer for every product no matter how niche it may be. Doing business the old fashioned way leaves you at the mercy of geography and word of mouth, but Ecommerce has the potential to open your business up to millions of people around the world.

Better communication with existing customers

Experienced B2B business managers will know how important good customer relationships are to this business model and nothing much has changed in that respect. Even online, customers still want to feel close to the brands that they do business with and this is especially so in the world of B2B where the order values are significantly higher and people’s livelihoods are involved.

Good Ecommerce stores open up easy routes of communication and offer you the chance to answer many customer questions before they’re even asked. This type of communication is essential in building up trust which will encourage customers to place orders.

Monitoring data much better

Another benefit of B2B Ecommerce is the ability to gather customer data. This data can be incredibly useful when it comes to streamlining your business and bringing it closer in line with your customer’s expectations.

Monitoring data
With a B2B Ecommerce solution it’s much easier to monitor data

Acquiring, handling and analysing this data for the best results is a learning process but thankfully there are plenty of B2B Ecommerce solutions and services that can make things a lot easier and set you on the right course for higher conversion rates.

Selling more

All of the benefits we’ve outlined so far point in the same direction and that’s towards more sales. Reaching more customers, meeting their expectations, fostering trust and using customer data to enhance their buying experience are all things that will help you sell more and help your B2B business reach its full potential.

How to choose the right B2B platform?

B2B platform performance

There are dozens of different Ecommerce platforms out there and you need to choose carefully to ensure that you end up with one that is perfectly tailored to your unique set of needs.

An Ecommerce solution designed for B2C can’t always be converted into an effective B2B Ecommerce store as there are a few functionalities specific to B2B Ecommerce that it needs to be able to execute effectively, such as:

  • Handling of both simple and complex promotions
  • Customer-specific pricing within dynamic product catalogues
  • Advanced search capabilities that are customizable to the needs of different clients
  • Multi-site support that can handle different delivery locations
  • Reports that can be designed at multiple levels

Explore the abilities of customisable solutions

The world of Ecommerce and the needs of your customers can change rapidly, so it’s important that you opt for a solution that is flexible and fully customisable. This not only helps you mould it to the needs of your unique B2B Ecommerce business but also gives you the chance to build some brand awareness by putting your own eye-catching stamp on your Ecommerce store

Creating customer-specific pricing

As we’ve already mentioned, business relationships are incredibly important to the B2B way of doing business. Customisable pricing structures have long been a cornerstone of these types of relationships and are a great way to build trust amongst your business and your clients and inspire customer loyalty that will keep people coming back to your business time and time again.

Agreeing on these types of deals in the physical world is easy enough but carrying this over into Ecommerce requires a B2B Ecommerce solution that makes allowances for it. Luckily, there are many B2B Ecommerce platforms out there that take this into account and would be ideal for your business.

The payment options

Payment options are another area where B2B sets itself apart from the conventional forms of Ecommerce. Paying on credit is a fairly common practice in the world of B2B due to the higher-order values and greater quantities involved. Paying on consignment is also a common practice and one that requires a higher level of organisation and communication. It all depends on the nature of your business and the needs of your different individual customers.

Versatility in payment options is essential for all B2B Ecommerce businesses, so it’s important that you shop around for an Ecommerce solution that can facilitate this need.

Marketing opportunities

A good Ecommerce store is one of the strongest, most cost-effective marketing tools available to vendors. A strong SEO strategy that incorporates backlinks, targeted content and targets all the right keywords is a guaranteed way to get your business noticed and ahead of the competition.

Forming a powerful B2B SEO strategy that is tailored to the exact needs of your unique business is a real skill and it could take a while before you start seeing the effects. There is nothing wrong with hiring an external agency to help you create one. Make sure you shop around for an agency with a good track record for helping businesses like yours find the right solution and providing them with a good return on investment.

Magento Commerce as a B2B Ecommerce solution

Adobe’s Magento Commerce platform is a powerful, robust and fully customisable Ecommerce platform that can be fully integrated with all the right front and back-end technologies that can give you everything you need to launch and maintain a successful B2B Ecommerce store such as:

  • Multiple account management capabilities for the handling of a diverse range of clients and channels much easier.
  • Enhanced security for both you and your client’s peace of mind
  • Advanced analytics for the acquisition and handling of customer data
  • Heightened performance capabilities, including optimised loading speeds for improved SEO and UX
  • Customisable purchasing workflow and pricing structures that bring the conventional B2B deal making formula to your Ecommerce platform.

Partner with us

As a Magento development agency, we have been using the Magento Commerce platform to help dozens of great B2B businesses reach the next level for many years.

Whether you need a site migration, some SEO tweaks or an entirely new website built from scratch, get in touch with us today to hear what solutions we can deliver for you.

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