What is B2B e-commerce strategy?
B2B e-commerce is a trend that has accelerated in the past year. With more start-ups on the market and an increase in e-commerce generated by the coronavirus (Covid-19), there is no surprise that this sector has experienced a boost in growth.
B2B e-commerce brings some of the following opportunities and threats to the different B2B actors:
- Manufacturers are able to contact their clients directly
- Distributors lighten the workload for account representatives and customer care advisers, who can then focus on their biggest clients and give their smaller clients the opportunity to order online themselves.
The art of B2B e-commerce strategy, like traditional e-commerce, is to successfully manage three important building blocks: platform & processes, marketing/sales and logistics.
Read more about the three building blocks below:
1. Platform and processes
The B2B webstore
Although similar to B2C, the B2B webstore has the following differences:
- The possibility of setting up an authorisation flow that enables colleagues to order without permission from their superiors.
- The possibility of payment on receipt of the invoice (only 20% of B2B orders are paid online with bank/credit card).
The B2B web portal
The B2B portal is a website that a client has to log into, in order to see prices (linked to the contract with your company). It is not optimised for digital marketing purposes. Navigating the portal and its different filters is set up for users/buyers who know exactly what they need. The B2B web portal also forms the perfect platform for PunchOut
Punchout is a hybrid solution which allies the B2B web portal and EDI. The client goes onto your website, adds the product to his basket. The products are automatically added to the EDI system where they are ordered automatically – all in a very efficient way.
EDI or Electronic Data Interchange is the most efficient way to place an order but it takes resources on both sides to set up. The basic principle is that your ERP and that of your client are connected to each other. A minimal level check can for example launch the order process on the client side. The order is then received and your ERP automatically sends confirmation to the ERP of your client. The shipping note, as well as the invoice, can also be sent via the EDI.
2. Digital Marketing and Sales
The B2B webstore, PunchOut and EDI are systems that serve the client. Before serving your clients, you need to recruit them! Depending on their size, how much they order and the specificity of the products ordered, it might or might not be necessary to put a contract in place that includes the regular visits of an account manager.
To decide which marketing and sales methods to use though, it is first important to determine the size of your client and to plan for the following:
- If you have a lot of potential clients who are small and don’t order huge quantities of product with low value, then sending an account executive will become very costly. In this case, the solution is to use the same digital marketing techniques that you would use in B2C e-commerce.
- If your potential clients are bigger, order large quantities of product with higher value, the most efficient way to work is by implementing lead generation, employing an account executive, and putting a contract in place.
Once the order has been processed by the different systems, it has to be sent to the client and preferably as soon as possible. A well-organised warehouse managed by a WMS will help achieve this goal.
Hire me as your B2B e-commerce expert to:
- Increase your B2B webstores’ revenue and customer satisfaction levels
- Build a B2B e-commerce or a digital team for your website
- Offer advice, formulate a strategy, be your B2B e-commerce coach/consultant
I have 15 years’ experience of working in the digital world, with eight years specifically in e-commerce on the marketing and technical side, and have obtained a number of specialised degree qualifications. I am equipped to help you to make your e-commerce venture a success.
I am available on an hourly or daily basis.
Discover my approach below:
My approach to B2B e-commerce strategy:
Assessment of B2B e-commerce building blocks
Analysis current trends
Identification of opportunities