Buckle up everybody, because we mean business to business!
So, you want to start a B2B e-commerce or dropshipping business ?
This could potentially be more Compared to the b2c businesses complex but once you get the hang of it you can start to rock and roll.
When it comes to making sales there are a lot of differences. These differences can although apply to the marketing side of businesses. But fist of all we have to choose the platform.
B2B ecommerce platforms.
When you are looking to start a b2b ecommerce business you are going to have to choose the platform and some standard ones might not be enough for your requirements.
Here is what you need from an ecommerce platform-
- Mobile compatibility – More and more B2B decision makes use smartphones to find a solution for their problems not having a good mobile experience coud be a costly mistake
- Compliance – The platform you choose should be able to accommodate GDPR and other mandatory user privacy guidelines that are in effect today.
- B2B functions – This ecommerce platform needs to have some advanced options that you can’t find at B2C platforms
- Optimal user experience – The user should have special customizable marketplace templates to choose from to create a user-friendly experience.
- 24/7 availability – Unlike B2C methods where customer needs to wait for your response this is not an option for B2B ecommerce businesses response should be immediate
- Marketing functionality – With more and more online searches being made via web and mobile, SEO optimized eCommerce platforms need to boost your visibility.
- Staging environment – There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that humans are error prone. Automated platforms offer a consistent sales solution. Everything should run on point.
- Journey templates– Selling complex business solutions can be challenging and to make things easier for everybody consider offering “journey templates” Which helps your customers to reach their goals
- Customer Communications – Not only your customers should get an immediate response they although be able to choose the desired products in just few clicks
So now we have covered your needs, here are the best B2B ecommerce platforms that you can choose.
- OpenCart B2B Marketplace
- Shopify plus
- Magneto commerce
- Presta shop
- SAP Hybris
I would recommend checking their offers and making your choice accordingly.
B2B vs B2C ecommerce differences/ Pros and cons.
B2B or B2C ? it is easy to get confused with the differences to choose best model for your ecommerce website.
But fear not! Here are the most important differences between B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses-
1. Audiences- What we have seen in B2C Ecommerce businesses that these businesses want to target broad but defined type of people Which is called a niche like sports fans, sport-minded moms, millennials into music or etc.
While a lot of people might thought of this as being too narrow, audiences are a lot more narrower in B2B niche.
In fact they are usually a set amount of buyers for B2B ecommerce niches. As example a B2B ecommerce business might target ad agency owners or finance VPs at tech startups.
While a lot of people might think this as leaving a lot of money on the table, the opposite is actually true.Just look at this metrics.
That is literally trillions of difference right there.
2.Average price point- A B2C ecommerce business might need to reach hundreds of thousands of people to have their first million in sales because they are selling their products at a lower rate but this is not the case for B2B e commerce brands.
On the other hand it is common for B2B brands to have less than 100 customers and generate millions or even billions in revenue.
This is probably the main difference between B2B and B2C businesses. This vşisual explains it perfectly.
This idea is simple if you want to build a 100,000$ business you will have to sell 10,000 products at the price of 10$ (B2C). When it comes to B2B to get the same revenue you will need to sell 1000$ products to 100 people.
This is because of the average order value and this is potentially the reason why B2B ecommerce sales are going up. In B2C ecommerce business the average order value is $147 but on the flip side B2B average order value is $491 which is triple the amount.
Here is how B2C customers sound when they are shopping: Ching, Ching,Ching. Smooth as butter (kind of)
Here is How B2B customer sound like when they are shopping:
Alright, I am ready to pitch this to my manager Who is going to pitch it to senior direction team then pull in finance and legal. I wonder if we should run it by the marketing team too.
As you can see this is a lot more complicated.
In 2015, The decision makers in B2B buying process were average of 5.4 but nowadays that number has climbed to 6.8 which means one more person is a decision maker.
Here is the most important reality that you need to get from this reality
Your content – about us pages, product pages, pdf’s, demo videos, catalogs and many more remember that these contents is going to be shared at least 5 people within the organisation.
The meaning of this is that you are going to invest the same (if not more ) amount of time, energy, and effort into the content creation process to create an optimal user experience as B2C ecommerce businesses do.
Besides you need to make sure you create the best content to make sure when someone comes to your website they understand that you are trustworthy and your business is truly the best solution out there.
But, what do you need to make that happen?
Businesses no longer need or want salespeople to hold their hands through the entire buying process. More and more business decision makers are looking for educational content that can help them reach their goals..
According to Jeff bullas B2B ecommerce businesses need to have useful and interesting content.
That is why you need to create content that adds value, educate and help them reach their goals.
2.High-quality site search
According to studies 98% of B2B customers at least do some online research and according to 62% B2B buyers onsite search function is becoming increasingly essential for their online shopping experience.
It is not easy to find specific product on your site especially if you have a lot of products on the site, That is why onsite search is so important.
As example v-belt guys use live search shopify app to making it easy for users to find the products they need
3.Presence all over the web
Potential buyers don’t just interact with content on your website that is why your content all over the web needs to be consistent whether you are on facebook or twitter.
When it comes to content the differences between B2C and B2B is not that big which means your content needs to be consistent.
The main difference is that in B2B ecommerce there are more than one decision makers unlike B2C
There is no doubt that email marketing is a powerful tool for B2B e commerce businesses. Email marketing is still a reliable tool to strengthen the relationship.
There is a bunch of ways for B2B ecommerce stores to collect emails but best method is offering value up-front. Best kind of value you can offer is actually is educating them about your products and how you can help them.
Invest time and effort to create these types of content because this is kind of investment will always pay off in the long run. This is a great opportunity for you to position your brand as an authority to build trust and to be the best in your niche.
We have covered email marketing before don’t forget to learn more.
B2B and B2C ecommerce similarities
Alright since we covered the differences but what are the similarities?
Yes there are some subtle differences but B2B and B2C aren’t north and south.
While differences might result in marketers and business owners to change their mindsets and strategies, there are some similarities to it.
1.Businesses are run by people too
Business decision making process is still taken care by people who are although somehow B2C consumers too. These decision makers are not robots (yet) since they are humans too same principles apply only difference is that more people is involved in buying process.
2.Omni channel matter
According to Forrester research, more and more people prefer to do online research instead of interacting with B2B salesman I am talking 59% of people. Why? Because instead of salespeople pushing people with their sales pitches that is no way helpful people would rather interact with content that is helpful.
It is likely that these buyers will start with google but omni channel approach always dominates.
What is an omni channel approach? According to HubSpot –
At its core, omni–channel is defined as a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated customer experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a bricks and mortar store and the experience would be seamless.
Just like B2c buyers, B2B buyers spend time of multiple channels. Almost everybody uses facebook LinkedIn twitter for social engagement and they go to YouTube for video tutorials. So Dont fool yourself and ignore facebook or instagram just because you are a B2B business.
Tips for B2B e-commerce business.
Alright now got similarities and differences out of the way here are some tips to help you roch and roll.
1.More product info
Providing a clear and detailed product description for your products is really important for business decision makers. Lack of information could be an instant deal breaker.
According to LinkedIn’s Rethink the B2B Buyer’s Journey report, product information and demos were chosen as the most important piece of content that buyer wants to interact with.
As example online payment company Square knows this : they include videos and guides that explain how everything works and there is a section about their POS systems benefits and advantages.
Check your website to see where you can add more information and useful content.
Don’t just add one format of content add videos, PDF’s catalogs, data sheets or any kind of helpful content for your audience.
2.Social media marketing
You need to take advantage of social media to connect with your buyers Just like in B2C ecommerce. According to content marketing institutes 2017 surway social media was the third most critical for B2B business left behind by email newsletters and blogs.
Post on instagram facebook and twitter are great way to drive traffic to your website and to prove that you are a legitimate business that understand the pain points of customers.
Try keeping your post as informative and as engaging as possible.Dot forget to share latest industry news, infographics, customer reviews, product demos as well as announcements ads deals or discounts to keep your feed fresh.
To engage more with potential buyers, try hosting twitter live chats, instagram live videos, facebook live.
If you need example take look at HubSpot’s Instagram this marketing software company shares motivational quotes, industry news and a lot more!
3. Offer flexible ordering and pricing options
If you want to be able to help costumes make a purchase, a personalized experience you need to give your users a variety of payment options. This is going to make customers feel comfortable instead of feeling boxed in. This is potentially increase your B2B online sales.
Maybe you can allow users to choose to pay month-to-month instead of onetime upfront payment. You also need to be able to offer a variety of payment options. Another option is a checkout support system that lets businesses extend payment terms without taking on any additional credit risk.
4.Advertise customer reviews
For businesses, shopping for business essentials isn’t a onetime decision. This is the start of an ongoing relationship. To make your customers feel comfortable and confident about committing to your products, you need to create social proof for your buyers.
According to 2017 Demand gen surveys, 67% of B2B buyers rely on peer customer reviews when making a purchasing decision.
Sharing and advertising customer reviews shows your audience that you are an authority in your niche and help reassure buyers of your value.
It is also a good idea to include the names of people who wrote the review’s, If you have enough reviews you should consider creating a reviews page.
5.Your mobile platform.
Improving your website functionality leads to more potential sales. According to Forbes insights 66% of executives said that a mobile friendly website makes them more likely to engage with vendor. More? 37% of executives use their phones to make business purchases between $5000 to $100,000.,
Having a good mobile experience isn’t just about having a fast loading mobile website, you need to make sure that users have the same functions on mobile as desktop like onsite search, being able to fill up the forms. If you want to take things a step further by making a mobile app like Handshake B2B ecommerce company.
6.Improved customer service
Stellar customer service is a great way to create brand loyalty. Think about the ways that how you can offer more enjoyable customer experience. As example you may want to extend your customer service hours ore install a live chat software to your site.
If you want to take things a step further, cloud-based software company Salesforce.com invites visitors to call with questions. In just a few minutes of browsing, you’ll see a pop-up box that displays the company’s customer service number and a note that says, “Need help? No problem.”
Another strategy is to pair buyers with a dedicated account manager who can help guide them through the buying process and set them up with a personalized order. In Demand Gen’s survey, 85% of respondents said their experience with their appointed sales rep convinced them to commit to a purchase. Buyers want to talk to someone who understands their business model, knows their problems and goals, and can explain why a particular product or service will benefit them.
Consider how you can revamp your website, offer more flexible solutions, and improve customer service.