If your business sells to other businesses and your online sales aren’t increasing, you may be missing out on important customers and serious revenue.
According to the 2022 U.S. B2b Ecommerce Market Report by DigitalCommerce360, 2021 online sales on B2B ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion from $1.39 trillion in 2020.
What Is B2B Ecommerce?
B2B Ecommerce is simply the process of selling to other businesses. Although many business owners are familiar with B2C ecommerce (selling to consumers online), there is also tremendous opportunity in selling to businesses.
B2B transactions can be much larger than individual consumer sales, and with the right product, service, and fulfillment, B2B customers can become long-term customers that order again and again.
Ecommerce trends for businesses that sell to other businesses online are encouraging. Forrester estimates that by 2027, US B2B e-commerce will reach $3 trillion and account for 24% of total US B2B sales.
How B2B Ecommerce Works
B2B ecommerce has become more complex as buyers demand an easy and more seamless experience.
In the white paper, B2B Commerce: Laying A Technological Foundation For Business Success, commercetools points out that by the time a B2B buyer contacts a seller, they are probably already almost 2/3rds down the path to purchase. And many buyers never talk to a sales rep at all. “An increasing number of transactions in B2B are automated between machines and have no human interface, which requires seamless communication with the vendor's systems,” it reports.
For that reason, B2B ecommerce sellers need to invest in the technology needed to provide an experience the buyer expects.
B2B Ecommerce Order Management
Order fulfillment is crucial to successful ecommerce sales. Business customers may depend on the products they buy to complete their sales. You’ll need to really understand your buyer’s needs and offer tools to allow them to:
Shop for products you offer
Make a purchase decision
Pay for a purchase
This sounds straightforward but in the B2B environment may require an additional level of sophistication. As the commercetools white paper referenced earlier explains, “API standards like OCI (open catalog interface) and EDI (electronic data interchange) allow businesses’ ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems to communicate with each other.”
B2B ecommerce solutions may also require additional payment options in addition to business credit cards or debit cards, including ACH payments, purchase orders, or even the ability to utilize vendor credit, such as net-30 payment terms.
There are several terms applicable to B2B ecommerce order management you’ll want to be familiar with:
Punchout catalogs: These allow buyers to find what they need from your product catalog within their ERP or procurement management system (eProcurement).
Cloud gateway: This is typically a third-party system that allows platforms to “talk” to each other to provide an integrated customer experience.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software: This is software that businesses use to manage day-to-day activities, which can include order management, inventory management, and even accounting functions. It can be used by B2C or B2B businesses.
The Best Tools For B2B Ecommerce Businesses
There are a variety of tools your business may need to manage its B2B ecommerce sales:
Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) to manage leads and customer contacts.
Content Management System to manage your ecommerce website and product listings.
Analytics and/or Business Intelligent (BI) Platform to track and measure key customer data and ecommerce metrics.
Inventory Management System to manage inventory and fulfillment.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools to help buyers find your B2B ecommerce store.
Ecommerce Platform to allow customers to place orders online and provide checkout and fulfillment services through your website or a mobile app.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to manage various activities of the business. This may include some of the systems above, or at least integrate with them.
There are numerous tools that can help you create a world-class B2B shopping solution for your business customers. As mentioned earlier, you may need multiple tools, or you may want to invest in a system that includes multiple tools your business needs.
Here are some of the best tools for B2B ecommerce businesses:
Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento)
Adobe Commerce offers custom catalogs and pricing, personalized experiences, and self-service customer portals for easy account management and ordering.
Offers headless technology that can be customized with freedom to expand and scale. Commercetools is a Saas software solution that partners with Google Cloud.
Hubspot is a very popular CRM. It may integrate with other tools to provide a comprehensive B2B solution.
Salesforce B2B Ecommerce
Another well-known CRM, Salesforce B2B promises to help your business deliver personalized experiences with AI and completely connected data.
Contentstack is an open SaaS CMS and headless CMS that integrates with a large marketplace of apps and tools. It is a founding member of the MACH Alliance which is focused on best-of-breed in enterprise technology.
Optimizely B2B offers AI-driven tools to help you manage your catalogs, check-out, orders and commerce, providing a holistic view of all activities.
BigCommerce B2B Edition
Also known for its B2C ecommerce platform, BigCommerce also offers a B2B ecommerce platform that can easily integrate with other B2B systems (ERP, PIM, CRM, etc.) through versatile APIs.
The world’s largest online direct-to-consumer marketplace also has a B2B marketplace, and your business can become a B2B seller on Amazon Business. It may be a good opportunity for new B2B companies to break into ecommerce.
How to Be Successful in B2B Ecommerce
Building a successful business-to-business online store is a long game. It will take a commitment to target business buyers and create an exceptional user experience that keeps them coming back.
Here are a three key tips to being successful in online B2B ecommerce:
1. Invest in the Right Technology
As mentioned earlier, the buying process is different for medium and large businesses, and many expect a higher level of customer service. You need to create an online experience that meets customer needs wherever (and whenever) they need your products. While you may start with a basic ecommerce website, or as an Amazon seller, you’ll likely need more sophisticated solutions to become truly competitive.
2. Build The Right Sales Team
Your sales reps should be not only familiar with the products your business sells, but they may also need to help rethink their role by enabling customers to choose and purchase their orders online.
More and more B2B buying experiences are moving online, accelerated by the pandemic. Your website and mobile app are a key part of your sales team. As ecommerce trends continue to favor online sales, your reps may never speak to a decision-maker but need to be knowledgeable about the tools customers can use to automate online purchasing.
3. Create an Omnichannel Marketing Experience
Your customers may come through multiple sales channels, ranging from direct mail marketing to digital advertising on social media platforms. You need to implement and use ecommerce analytics tools to help you understand where your customers are coming from, and how to reach them more effectively.
Your digital ad spend will be a key part of reaching new markets and customers, and you want to make sure you make the most of every dollar you spend there.
Dash.fi can help your business easily control spend, get higher daily limits, earn cash rewards, and stabilize ad spend at scale.