When we think about ecommerce, it’s usually for a business selling products directly to the consumer. But ecommerce isn’t isolated to B2C alone. Many businesses use online stores or merchant centers to sell products to B2B buyers. While there’s a lot that’s the same between B2C and B2B, there are also a number of unique challenges than B2B ecommerce brands face.
Follow are the five key challenges by B2B ecommerce companies, and solutions for overcoming them.
More Complex Path to Purchase
Selling to a customer is a simple transaction. Customer sees a product they like. Customer reads reviews. [Maybe] Customer asks a friend their opinion. Customer purchases product. Customer transaction complete.
Selling to a business, on the other hand, can be more complicated and nebulous. Buyer sees a product they like. Buyer contacts you to make sure it’s exactly what they need and fits other equipment they use. Buyer must submit at least two other quotes to Superior. Buyer contacts you to negotiate price. Buyer contacts other vendors to negotiate. Buyer presents new quotes to superior. [Maybe] Superior provides final details to Finance for approval. Superior approves purchase. Buyer purchases product. Buyer transaction complete. Finally.
B2B buyers need information and lots of it. They need information on product features, benefits, specifications, accessories, fit, model number, bulk pricing, etc. They need information for themselves, for their colleagues in other departments, for their superiors, for the finance department, for any other involved parties. They need it clear, organized and thorough. And they need it fast.
Content is what it’s all about. Provide the information these buyers need with detailed FAQs, manuals, ebooks, white papers, blog posts, instructional and educational videos all available on your website and social channels.
Higher and Varying Price Points
Each business has its own needs and you will have to create a customized solution for them. Even if your products are split into various levels or plans (i.e., Beginner, Small Business, Executive, etc.), it is not necessary that they will always fulfill a business' demands. You may offer first-time customer pricing, long-term customer pricing, bulk order pricing, or innumerable other ways to package and promote products to buyers.
Managing these pricing variations can be simplified with custom, predefined rules within your ecommerce platform. Additionally, utilizing a quality CRM platform will allow for pricing based on each customer’s unique attributes and relationship.
Multiple Brands or Product Lines
One size does not, and will not, fit all businesses. This means that you may have one generic product but subcategories and product lines will be needed. For example, if you sell jewelry to a retailer, you will need to keep the different types of jewelries in your line as well as the various styles in those lines. A retailer will buy jewelry based on the customer demand which can, and does, change based on location.
Making it easy for buyers to find these different options is key. Utilize a robust site search engine for your online store so that buyers can filter by keyword, SKU, product line, brand name, model, size, color, fit, and every other attribute.
Customer Demand for Rapid Fulfillment and Delivery
We live in a time of instant gratification. Customers gravitate to companies that offer faster delivery times; they are even willing to pay a premium for it. In return, businesses will also require a speedy process with each purchase order. The faster you can deliver your product to the business, the faster they are able to sell it before the customer can shop around too much.
Clearly list the terms and pricing for every shipping option, and utilize a high-quality fulfillment and shipping vendor like ShipStation to take the headache out of the entire process.
Complex Payment Terms and Processing
Credit lines and payment plans are a great way to maintain B2B buyers’ loyalty and create a better experience, but they can be quite the nightmare for account managers and accounting departments. Ensure that your site is set up to accept various payment types and ready to process payments effectively and efficiently.
These and other challenges have prevented the B2B industry from embracing ecommerce as quickly as B2C. Yet, with an understanding of the concerns, a clear focus on the needs of the B2B buyer and the help of a few good tools, it’s easy to overcome these B2B ecommerce challenges and create an efficient and effective way of generating new sales.