In the articles we have published in the last few weeks, we have mainly dealt with commercial strategies related to B2C e-commerce. Today, however, we are talking about a very often underestimated retail sector: B2B e-commerce. Several studies have highlighted this rapidly expanding sector’s potential, thanks to ever greater integration between physical and virtual stores. More and more companies are using this tool to simplify purchases. So let’s find out what it is, starting with the meaning of B2B e-commerce.
B2B / B2C E-Commerce – The Differences
The term B2C indicates the sales relations between a company and a consumer, or what happens typically inside a shop, whether physical or virtual. B2C is, in fact, the acronym for Business (company) to Consumer (Consumer). B2B, on the other hand, is the acronym for Business to Business and identifies all the commercial interactions that take place between two companies.
As in the B2C sector, the demand for e-commerce platforms where a company can make its purchases is growing enormously in the B2-B sector. However, given the different nature of the final customer to which they are addressed, these two types of e-commerce differ in several respects.
The payment methods usually allowed in a B2C are credit card, Paypal, cash on delivery, etc.
On the other hand, payment methods are available in B2B e-commerce, such as RiBa, RID, bank transfers 30/60/90, and credit lines.
Navigation Between Products
Browsing in a B2C is free and allows visitors to browse the catalog and all the products available without limitations. On the contrary, to navigate within a B2B e-commerce site, it is often necessary to register or otherwise request the seller’s authorization. Furthermore, the products in the catalog may present very detailed descriptions and technical information intended for an audience of experts.
To request assistance on modern B2C e-commerce, we rely on services such as chat, dedicated forms, and e-mails. B2B e-commerce, on the other hand, provides a personalized methodology according to each customer.
If a B2C allows only one type of order (standard), a B2B will enable you to make 3 different orders: fast, re-orders, and pre-orders.
Why Invest In B2B E-Commerce?
Although not well known outside the trade, B2-B commerce, especially electronic commerce, affects many companies. According to estimates, B2B e-commerce will reach 16.4% in Italy by 2026, driven, like retail, by the effects of the pandemic. The cancellation of face-to-face events, disruption of supply chains, and videoconferencing have accelerated the digitization process.
Analysts predict that many future B2B businesses will be managed remotely using digital technology, despite the return of trade shows and face-to-face sales.
A future is therefore looming in which these two modalities will coexist. On the one hand, many companies, especially the smaller ones, take advantage of face-to-face meetings such as trade fairs and conventions, which help forge new partnerships and agreements. On the other hand, a B2B e-commerce allows better management of transactions and internal logistics of the company and will become an essential aspect for any business.
The expansion of the B2B e-commerce market is a direct consequence of the pandemic and other factors. Such as the fact that more and more business executives belong to the millennial generation, those born between the 80s and 90s. These individuals are more accustomed to using modern technology, the internet, and digital tools to run their businesses. For this reason, to ensure the success of your B2B e-commerce shortly, it will be necessary to adopt a series of precautions:
- Create an online platform similar to a B2C;
- Implement B2B from mobile;
- Study an omnichannel strategy;
- Speed up the order fulfillment process.
Create A B2B Similar To A B2C
As mentioned, many companies are run by people with a far greater degree of knowledge of technology than in the past. This also affects how modern businesses manage purchasing and sales. Before making a purchase, for example, they carry out a lot of searches on the web to compare offers, prices, and services, just like it happens for large B2C e-commerce like Amazon. With this in mind, creating a B2B with characteristics similar to a B2C is undoubtedly an excellent way to attract the attention of interested companies.
B2B From Mobile
More and more people (not just business executives) use their mobile phones as their primary navigation method, even for making purchases. To ensure that your B2B e-commerce offers a complete and satisfying experience, it becomes essential to make your site accessible also from mobile phones. The options are different, and the same discourse we set out in previous articles applies. The site must be responsive, but you can also consider taking advantage of PWA’s new technology, Progressive Web App.
Implementing an omnichannel strategy is undoubtedly a fundamental aspect of obtaining excellent results. Still, the requirements of a B2B are more difficult to satisfy than a B2C, and not all platforms are suitable for the purpose. In general, to be found by potential customers through different channels, B2B sellers can rely on:
- A dedicated network such as Linkedin
- Advertising campaigns on business portals
- Google ADS
- B2B contact database
For a perfect omnichannel strategy, it would be appropriate to implement all these methods.
Quick Order Fulfillment
Amazon has accustomed us badly since the American e-commerce giant can guarantee deliveries in short times, and people expect fast delivery from any supplier, even in the B2B field.
Mind you. A B2B e-commerce will not be able to fulfill orders as quickly as a “retail” e-commerce.
However, this does not mean that order fulfillment times and delivery times cannot be accelerated. The ideal solution in this sense consists of implementing a CRM, a management program capable of accelerating all the company’s internal processes, including the management of orders and their fulfillment.
We have thus pitted the strategies and trends that will allow you to create a successful B2-B e-commerce channel. However, even for companies with advanced technological knowledge, this is not such a predictable process. For a targeted strategy suited to your business’s needs, it is essential to rely on a team of industry experts, constantly updated on the latest technologies and market trends.