B2B stands for Business to Business. E-commerce businesses not all of them focus on customers. Some of these are more evidently built for other businesses.
It is estimated that the B2B ecommerce market will reach $1.1 trillion by 2021. While currently, less than 50% of B2B businesses have an online website, this is set to change. More store owners are choosing to have a B2B ecommerce website to scale up their business.
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Below stats represent the growth of B2B e-commerce.
Within a single B2C business, there can be a lot of scope for multiple B2B businesses. To understand this better let us check what is B2B e-commerce.
What is B2B e-commerce?
B2B business ventures have several opportunities. For instance, in a car that will be sold to the end-user, there are multiple parts that are required. Parts such as battery, metal, tyre etc. If you are selling any of these components, then your business caters to B2B requirement.
Similarly, in every B2C business, there are multiple B2B involved. If you consider garments, then you can have fabrics, buttons, designing, dye and several such B2B ecommerce business.
B2B e-commerce, often by leveraging digital technologies, demonstrates how individual businesses can work together to fulfill a consumer purchase like explained above.
Also, most companies do not restrict to be a strictly B2B marketplace but based on the demand also turns to be a B2C business. This can be in the form of e-commerce website or a marketplace such as Alibaba.
In certain other cases, online stores offer a bulk price for B2B users which is hidden from the regular B2C users. Owing to such rule modifications B2B onboarding is much complex as compared to B2C. A lot of top players are looking forward and exploring B2B ventures to expand their business plan.
Benefits of B2B e-commerce
B2B is a much-debated topic and is like a hot cake in the market. With B2B e-commerce there are multiple benefits as highlighted below:
- Order and inventory management–A lot of businesses prefer quicker order and inventory management system. Procuring raw goods gets simplified when you have such tracking mechanism.
- New Ventures – Like mentioned in the above point, one of the benefits is the quickness and the ease of procuring items. This gives way for newer business ventures. Opens doors for diverse markets.
- Ease of Business – Since order and fulfillment is simplified, this opens more opportunities to increase sales. Buying becomes more easier, especially when your customer’s business depends on your inventory.
- Scalability–As your client’s business grows, you need not worry about scalability issues. The e-commerce architecture is built to scale up procurements. The only point to work on is the inventory demand.
- Support–With B2B e-commerce, support becomes more efficient and client’s get immediate remediation to issues. The operational cycle for business becomes more efficient.
- Analytics – To explore more business avenues you can explore analytics based on your website information. From this data you can cross sell and up sell to unleash newer opportunities to grow your business.
- Round the clock business – Being online lets you do business round the clock and gives unlimited growth potential.
- Payments – Managing payments, currency conversion and other geographical restrictions can be handled real-time.
- Sales Channel – With B2B e-commerce you are not restricted to a specific website. You can explore multiple sales channels such as eBay, Amazon etc.
- Marketing – Marketing your proposition will be better and you can explore SEO integrations to acquire more customers.
- Training – You can train and provide accessibility to customers using videos, blogs and other knowledge base materials.
- Centralized Management – With a B2B website, managing your business becomes centralized and improves efficiency of doing business.
- Customer Loyalty – B2B e-commerce depends a lot on repeat customers. With ease of business and by providing intuitive features you can increase customer loyalty. With this, you can ensure re-orders as well as an increase in sales using referrals or other marketing techniques.
Things to look for while choosing a B2B E-commerce software
B2B e-commerce website can be developed by using a platform that supports B2B development. However not all e-commerce platforms will be suitable for such development. Some of the features to look for while choosing a B2B e-commerce software is:
- B2B support – The platform you choose should have good support for B2B functionalities. This should support pricing models, bulk uploads, account management etc.
- Mobile Support – Similar to B2C businesses, B2B also requires the online store to be mobile responsive. A lot of businesses happen over mobile devices and hence this support is a priority feature.
- Templates – B2B business has a different look and feel as compared to B2C. This is because such stores mostly cater to other businesses. Choose a B2B e-commerce software that provides good B2B templates.
- Payment customization – Payments play a key role in B2B stores since the payments here need to be open via different modes. Also, if you are supporting customers as well as businesses the platform you choose should allow you to customize payments.
- Flexibility –B2B e-commerce is more complex and requires a platform that provides enough B2B kind of flexibility and customization. This includes features related to payments, invoice generation, bulk orders etc.
- Support – This is a basic feature. Choose a platform that can provide good customer support including technical support whenever required.
- Business Relevance –Business relevance lets you understand if the software you choose can support the kind of business you are working on. This includes support, templates, themes, features, add-ons etc that are relevant to your business.
Top B2B e-commerce platforms for 2020
B2B e-commerce platforms make a complex business model simple. The advantage of using such platforms is that, you can quickly develop user interface, enhance customer experience, include customization and most importantly do not have to re-invent the wheel.
Some of the top B2B e-commerce platforms for 2020 are as highlighted below:
- BigCommerce – BigCommerce has a learning curve but is a robust e-commerce building platform. This has a hybrid model with good support for B2B as well as B2C business. Customization of pricing is available using this platform.
BigCommerce has a good customer support and knowledge base which is an added advantage for new businesses.
- NuOrder –NuOrder is a simple platform that focuses on B2B e-commerce. Features such as bulk order, re-order is well managed. The platform provides average customer support and comes with marketing tools.
- TradeGecko–TradeGecko provides a streamlined process and focuses on B2B e-commerce. It is simple to use and automates a lot of complex tasks. This is a cloud-based platform. TradeGecko has good support for forecasting, analytics, and reporting.
- Magento–Magento is a well-known platform for e-commerce development. This also is a good platform for B2B. However, Magento requires more technical expertise. The platform provides flexibility, robustness and supports scalability.
- Shopify Plus–Shopify Plus is a good platform for both B2B as well as B2C. The platform provides flexibility to manage payments and orders. Shopify Plus is simple to use while using this you would not be able to create complex websites.
- GoECart –GoECart is a dedicated omnichannel B2B e-commerce platform. It is used mainly owing to its simplicity. The platform provides streamlined processes for B2B e-commerce.
Apart from this, there are also few other platforms such as Contalog, NetSuite SuiteCommerce, IBM Digital Commerce.
Most popular B2B Businesses examples
Below are few top-performing B2B e-commerce examples.
1.Alibaba – One of the biggest examples of B2B e-commerce. This is spread across 240 countries. Alibaba is a global marketplace with several products across 40 industries.
2. Amazon Business – Amazon business is another prominent B2B e-commerce. This has several B2B specific features suitable for most businesses.
3. Firerock – Firerock provides building material for homes. The website is built with intuitive images that do not look like another boring construction website.
4. ACME–Acme is a packaging provider. It mainly focuses on logistics providers and shipping companies. Acme has a simple B2B e-commerce website.
5. Knobs Co – Knobs Co provides interior solutions. This is unique since the same website handles B2B as well as B2C. The website is well designed to handle all kinds of traffic.
Difference Between B2B and B2C E-commerce
B2B and B2C businesses are similar in many ways. Robustness, website design, product image optimization, user experienceis some of the parameters which are equally important in both lines of business. Whether your business supports another customer or business, there are certain common must-have features.
However, B2B and B2C e-commerce also differ in certain aspects and hence are treated differently. Some of these differences are as highlighted below:
1.Complexity – B2B e-commerce is more complex as compared to B2C, owing to the way of business. In B2C you have multiple customers seeking a specified product. There is well-defined route followed by most customers.
However, in B2B entities try to seek procurement of products needed for their business. The use cases here can be more complex and the customization required for showcasing products and pricing models needs to be more flexible.
2.Fixed Procurement – Businesses that land on your B2B e-commerce website are mostly repeat customers. This means owing to their business requirement they would not like to browse through multiple categories of products. The requirement is to choose a well-known product id.
This works differently in B2C business since the end-user is a customer who would prefer to browse through multiple categories and products before making a purchase.
3.Payment – B2C includes just one buyer, seller and a single type of payment mode. Contrary to this, B2B in most cases requires a payment order for bulk orders. This is not a simple credit card payment in most cases. Moreover, this will require detailed invoice-based payments where a certain amount may be paid in advance to block a booking.
B2B payments are more complex and require management between the two parties, unlike B2C which is a point of sale purchase. B2B includes a pre-negotiated contract withfixed pricing.
4.Shipping–B2C includes shipping to customer location which is usually done using a third-party fulfillment service provider. B2B shipping can be of versatile nature and can include shipping across multiple destinations or distribution centers. In certain cases, this could also include on-call pickup.
5.Returns– B2C customers include impulsive buyers as well. A lot of products get returned owing to such buying trends. Conversely,B2B e-commerce will see more serious buyers. Unless there is a genuine reason such as low product quality the products returned would be minimal.
6.Many-to-Many business–B2C is a one-to-one business which includes a single buyer and a single seller. In B2B you would form a part of the complete order management eco-system. You would have customers as well as businesses to whom you sell your products. This is a many-to-many business and hence is complex.
7.Digital Marketing– The success rate of digital marketing campaigns is better in B2C as compared to B2B.
B2B users less often rely on digital marketing campaigns. As compared to digital marketing other factors such as pricing, customer loyalty, discounts etc play a key role to secure a sale. Owing to this, B2B e-commerce does not require much investment in digital marketing techniques and optimization.
8.Loyalty –B2B works differently as compared to B2C. B2B e-commerce is built for a different purpose. Such businesses usually get a fixed set of customers that place an order on a timely basis based on their business cycle. Such customer loyalty is built over a period of time with improved customer support, shipping, product quality, timely product delivery, pricing etc.
Clearly, in several ways B2B e-commerce works differently as compared to B2C. Being a B2B store you can also sell your products directly to the consumer who isn’t regular customers. Altering the existing B2B setup to also work as B2C in specific cases is a very common practice to enhance sales.
B2B e-commerce software makes website designing simple and robust. At the very beginning of the development, you can research and choose one of the best available B2B platforms. This will ensure scalability and allows you to gradually increase your online sales.