B2B commerce term applies to online transactions between companies. This kind of business model often involves wholesale distributors selling products to retail buyers. In many cases through B2B e-commerce manufacturers may also sell directly to retailers. Transactions in B2B system are cyclical, based on placing the product on the market and repeating the whole cycle. This process is not visible by the final customer.
No matter if you’re new to B2B ecommerce or you want to move onto higher level of ecommerce, it’s important to choose the right solution for your needs.
Advancements in digital technology pushes more and more businesses to transfer their services and products online. The companies that will not focus on a digital expansion are going to be left behind the competition.
If a manufacturer or distribution business do not invest into B2B e-commerce platform, this may result in losing revenues and potentially becoming a bankrupt.
In order to get an advantage over competition, what needs to be done is to provide better support through the quality customer support software and using proper e-commerce solutions.
The B2B solutions are addressed to a closed group of customers who execute orders consisting greater quantities (eg 100, 200, 500). Therefore, the presentation of products in the catalog should be simplified and allow for their immediate identification.
Lists of products in categories and search engine should meet requirements:
Product pages with extended descriptions are usually used by partners to get acquainted with new products in the offer. They are not that important when the contractor knows the goods and he wants to renew orders.
In B2B systems there are two most commonly used approaches. First method grants an access to the catalog and system only to registered (and logged in) users - this is a more restrictive approach. The second strategy is to make the catalog available to all users - but they can only see information if the product is available and what is its retail price.
Sharing part of the catalog information may have a positive impact on acquiring new business contacts (lead). This way, it is easier to promote the offer of wholesalers, for example in the Google search engine. Companies that reach the B2B website of the wholesaler, producer or distributor - may be interested in the offer and establish cooperation. For this reason, it is always worth sharing the widest possible amount of information.
The cart and shopping path in the B2B systems are important aspects. The cart should allow easy editing and preview of the entire order (including SKU’s or bar codes). Importing and exporting the cart with products is also often used.
In case when the representatives are assigned to the clients, it is worth considering the possibility of placing orders by them to the customers favor. It can be done by allowing representative to load the user's cart and in case of any problems, he can quickly "take over" the cart and complete the order - without need to enter all the products from scratch.
Other functionalities useful in the B2B system
In the case of regular online B2C stores, we usually deal with a simple discount and price module. The store usually has two price lists: basic and promotional for selected products. More advanced e-commerce systems allow granting individual discounts and discount coupons.
B2B e-commerce systems are characterized by use of very extensive modules for managing price lists and customer groups. The representatives or product managers can give customers individual discounts on assortment groups (categories, series, producers) and allocate additional discounts on selected orders. In B2B e-commerce systems additional mechanisms such as discount coupons, sales, etc. are rarely used.
The search engine is a very important module of every system - regardless of whether B2B or B2C. In the case of B2B class software, however, it is necessary to take into account the specific way in which business partners can search for information. Very often they know by heart the part of the catalog. Adjusting the search engine to their needs by implementing functionalities will significantly speed up their work.
Search parameters by which client can find desired product are for example: bar codes (including adaptation to enter codes directly from the reader), producer codes, parts of product name, producers, distributors, selected attributes (eg 2m length) or product series.
Depending on the strategy and the methods of partners cooperation, the following sections may appear in the client's panel: orders, invoices, payments, trade credit, returns and refunds.
One of the most valued functions of the B2B system is the ability to quickly obtain information about the status of the order and download the necessary documents in digital form. Thanks to this, it is possible to significantly reduce the time needed to enter the order into the warehouse and accounting system.
Another important options are different access levels and multiple accounts for one client. In the case when we trade with larger partners, it is possible to separate accounts for ordinary users (who make orders) and separate access to invoices or trade credit.
The newsletter module performs a very similar function in B2B solutions to modules known in B2C. Its purpose is to inform about new assortment items, important changes or promotions. An important difference is usually the more textual form of the template and many more products that can be found in the content of a single email.
The B2B and B2C sales platforms may share the same mechanism, but there are some differences in B2B system:
Marketing Automation can be described as a process where a whole bunch of tools makes selling easier. These are mostly additional applications outside the sales platform that manage all communication with the B2B customer before and after the purchase. During the purchase, the sales platform in most cases handles all communication and transactional emails.
Some customers need personalized recommendations based on their order history. Thanks to the personalization, the shopping process becomes much easier and faster. The company gains customer loyalty and notices increased income.
The main reason why companies implement B2B systems is not to increase sales in any way or reach new customers. This is an intermediate goal - usually the acquisition of new contacts is carried out by the company's salespeople.
Often the company's most important goal is to reduce operating costs and increase the efficiency of the sales department. Wholesale orders are characterized by a long list of products ordered by the customer. There is nothing more risky than accepting such an order by phone or fax handwritten by our client. The B2B system allows you to reduce the time needed for customer service, minimize the number of mistakes and automate some of the processes.
The implemented B2B system should serve both us and our partners. When designing a system, it is worth including the improvements that will save them precious time. As a result, our clients will be more inclined to use the new system, and thus - we will reduce the negative effects that may appear when implementing a new B2B platform.