B2B Online Shop - Why these retailers should also enter the e-commerce business
Published on: August 4, 2019
Updated: August 29, 2023
Online stores in the B2C sector are already booming and generating considerable sales. In the B2B sector, however, things look different. Although 59 percent of B2B retailers already have an online store, the proportion of purchases made here is low.
26 percent generate less than 5 percent of sales via online stores and marketplaces. 16 percent, on the other hand, do not yet have an online presence. The main reasons B2B retailers do not yet sell their goods online are primarily low customer demand and excessive complexity.
Something has to change in B2B online retail
It is not only B2C customers who now appreciate fast shopping via an online store; B2B customers also want to use this option. While 93 percent would like to make their B2B purchases online, 74 percent of customers already research their purchases there. Thirty percent of business customers make half of their purchases via online stores.There is therefore still room for improvement in B2B online retailing.
An online store is also popular with customers in the B2B sector. (Source: OroCommerce)
To Do’s for a B2B online shop
Of course, a good online store is not something you just pull out of your sleeve. In order to make business via the online store work, merchants need to keep a few things in mind.
No detours for the customer
B2B customers usually do not shop for private pleasure, but place orders for work-related reasons. For this reason, there is often a certain amount of time pressure behind the purchase. To ensure that their customers get to the product they are looking for as quickly as possible, retailers should use B2B store software that offers a quick order function and watch lists. Customers can thus find products more quickly via an item number or a QR code. In addition, frequently recurring purchases should be displayed on the home page. The customer can then add the required items directly to the shopping cart without having to search for them first.
Individuality in prices
In the B2B sector, unlike in the B2C sector, it is common for different customers to be offered different prices and discounts. Reasons can be, for example, that they are regular customers who receive lower prices due to regular ordering or that the customer receives volume discounts for the purpose of large orders. Here it is important to keep clear price structures. For this to be possible, store software should be used that allows prices to be set individually. Customers should then be able to call up these individual prices in real time.
Detailed information about each product
There is often a lot of responsibility behind a B2B order. After all, the customer is placing the order on behalf of his company. It is therefore particularly important for him to order the right products. For this reason, detailed product information is a must. This also includes information on the accessories supplied as well as delivery times and costs. The store operator should make the prices transparent. The customer must be able to understand whether the negotiated discount was given here, from when there is a quantity discount and whether the price is adjusted to the market.
Personalization in addressing and products
With a B2B online store, companies should be taken directly to a page tailored to them after logging in. There, the store provides him with customer-specific offers, prices and catalogs. In addition, the customer should be able to call up information such as stock levels and order availability. The retailer should also offer the customer the option of being able to place appointment and collective orders. Such a customer environment is indispensable for a functioning B2B online store. In addition, for business customers it is particularly important to inform the customer about the status of the order with the help of personalized shipping messages. He should know at any time in which processing process his order is.
Various release processes
Especially in B2B, it is important that different people can participate in the ordering process. For example, a production employee may add the required items to the shopping cart, the production manager may then review it, and the supervisor may finally approve it. Store operators must therefore choose software that offers control of different approval processes and enables several different logins.
Advantages of a B2B online shop
A B2B store sounds like quite a lot of work at first. However, there are some good reasons why merchants should think about it:
- Through an online store, the B2B merchant can appear internationally. This only has to make country-specific changes such as language, currency, units of measurement, shipping costs and delivery time as well as legal texts.
- An Internet presence can better present the company. If retailers offer their products in a professional manner and optimize the website for search engines, customers come into contact with the brand more often and can gain a comprehensive impression.
- Where customers previously had to compare information on products from a wide variety of documents, today the online store offers everything at a glance. Material, number of pieces, dimensions, model design and functionality: Customers can call up everything with one click. In addition, the online store makes it possible to attach various images that provide detailed information about the product.
- Data can be analyzed more easily. For example, it is possible for dealers to determine which products are selling particularly well, which discount and marketing campaigns are having an effect, and how the ordering behavior of customers is developing.
- The average B2B customer is getting younger and younger. Already, three-quarters of Millennials (ages 22 to 37) are involved in B2B purchasing decisions at their companies. This generation is familiar with the Internet and often prefers this option, which in turn leads to increased online purchases and changed purchasing expectations.
- In favor of a web store is also the fact that the introduction of an e-commerce solution is usually promising. Sana found in the context of a study heraus, that 90 percent of the companies surveyed, which have decided to establish an online store, can also achieve the associated goals.
The main reasons for B2B customers to order online are mainly the practical and fast process and the visible availability of the goods.
There are several reasons why customers prefer to store online. (Source: ibi)
Disadvantages of a B2B online shop
It becomes clear: even for a B2B retailer, an online store can be quite worthwhile. After all the advantages, it must of course be mentioned that there are also arguments against an online store in the B2B sector:
- The management of such a store is associated with a lot of time. It must be considered exactly how the store should be built, how the design should be and especially which store software are the right for the company’s needs.
- The staff must first be trained on the new sales channel. For most employees, working with an online store is uncharted territory. Therefore, they must first be trained in the functions and possibilities of this distribution channel.
- The company must first integrate the new technologies into the fixed structures. Because many companies already have fixed structures, which they now have to break up again.
- For a successful B2B online store, retailers must first develop an e-commerce strategy. Anyone who starts an online store without planning will hardly be successful. Goals must be set and strategies developed.
An online store is no longer just a matter of B2C business, B2B can also benefit from the introduction of an online store. Especially in this day and age, it is important to keep up with techniques and developments as well as embrace change. A B2B store offers many other advantages in addition to increasing awareness and a clearer presentation of the offer. The B2B stores that already exist are currently achieving far too little turnover with their Internet presence. This can often be due to an ill-considered and unplanned implementation. Retailers need to adapt the store’s functions to B2B business in order to make it easier for customers to shop there. This is how a B2B online store can also become successful.