B2B Ecommerce / Enterprise Ecommerce

17 B2B Ecommerce Brands Unveil The Secrets to Scalable Online Success

Tracey Wallace / 21 min read

17 B2B Ecommerce Brands Unveil The Secrets to Scalable Online Success

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Running a B2B ecommerce channel is inherently more complex than traditional B2C ecommerce.

Payment methods are vast:

  • PO.
  • Check.
  • ACH.
  • Terms.
  • Quote.

Catalogs are large, and complicated by high numbers of variants for individual products and even custom needs.

Add to that the fact that many B2B ecommerce channels rely on inbound sales – the result of a optimized site – but outbound sales still account for many a salesperson’s commission, and the closing of larger deals.

These complexities have lead many B2B brands to put the launching and optimizing of an ecommerce channel on hold.

Instead, many have turned websites into digital catalogs or information pages pushing to a contact us CTA.

But technology is changing that. The bar has lowed.

Complexities can easily be solved by modern b2b ecommerce platforms – and now, bussiness-to-business brands of all sizes are looking to optimize their ecommerce channel for sustainable growth over the next decade.

Here’s what they are doing, how it is working and how your brand can pick up a few tips.

Fast-growing B2B ecommerce brands:
  1. Flexfire LED.
  2. Assurant.
  3. Selini NY.
  4. Freund.
  5. Restaurantware.
  6. Spectrum Audio.
  7. Bright AgroTech.
  8. Human Solution.
  9. T.A.S.C.O.
  10. The Knobs Co.
  11. Sincerely Nuts.
  12. NutreeVit.
  13. BuySwings.
  14. CleanAir.
  15. BulkBookstore.
  16. Best Access Doors.
  17. Telephone Man Telecom Supply.

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What Is B2B Ecommerce and Why Should I Sell Online?

B2B ecommerce, or business-to-business electronic commerce, describes online order transactions between businesses.

Because orders are processed digitally, buying efficiency is improved for wholesalers, manufacturers, distributors and other types of B2B sellers.

The B2B ecommerce space is growing rapidly.

By the most recent reports, analysts have forecasted that global B2B ecommerce revenue will top $6.7 trillion by 2020.

As of 2013, global B2B ecommerce had already surpassed $5.8 trillion in revenue.

Source: Statista

And yet, as of 2014, only 22% of B2B businesses in the U.S. were selling online.

b2b-ecommerce-statista-1

That’s a lot of revenue for less than a quarter of the businesses in the market for it.

So, what’s holding B2B businesses up? Well, a few misconceptions might be the culprit to begin with.

B2B Ecommerce Misconceptions

There are a plethora of misconceptions around B2B ecommerce.

From a misunderstanding of the complex technology available to a naivety around automation best practices that save both time and money, let’s demystify this profitable industry.

  1. You’re probably already selling B2B.
  2. B2B buyers are now millennials, and they don’t fax.
  3. Pricing transparency can be solved with technology (really easily).
  4. Text your customers the way your text your kids (and save time, too).
  5. Custom ordering is complex. But your customer doesn’t have to think so.

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1. The belief they don’t sell “B2B” (i.e. What is B2B Ecommerce?).

The number one reason many brands say they aren’t selling B2B is because they don’t realize they are already doing it.

Selling B2B is a variety of things, including:

  1. Wholesale.
  2. Distribution relationships with large or chain retailers.
  3. Selling to organizations (schools, businesses, nonprofits).
  4. Supplier selling to resellers.

You do not have to be a supplier in order to sell B2B. Many online brands are both B2B and B2C.

One such brand is Flexfire LEDs, which receives 80% of its revenue from B2B sales, but also sells direct to consumers.

You do not need a separate ecommerce site in order to sell B2B.

Instead, you can build site engagement and SEO on a single URL and use customer groups to allow for personalized browsing experiences for your B2B segment.

What are customer groups?

b2b-ecommerce-customer-groups-1

Customer groups allow you to build personalized site experiences for groups or individuals once they log in.

This includes:

  1. Showcasing products not available to the non-logged in audience
  2. Hiding products the specific customer groups isn’t interested in
  3. Showcasing specific pricing, often pre-negotiated
  4. Allowing for one-click repeat purchasing

Customer groups are useful for VIP segments for all merchants, but are essential for B2B sellers online.

Assurant’s MyWit Example

Assurant’s MyWit site is a great example.

Assurant launched a business-to-employee ecommerce website with BigCommerce, saw incredible growth, and then used that same site to sell B2B and B2C.

Now, through customer groups, the site is segmented for Assurant employees, wholesalers and regular retail customers.

MyWit’s B2C homepage.

MyWit’s B2B login page.

That said, many B2B sellers are indeed suppliers – but that isn’t the only type of B2B business out there.

Krista Fabregas, Founder + Startup Consultant, Fit Small Business

Too many B2B vendors still treat websites as a catalog and take orders via phone or fax.

Business customers like to access wholesale pricing and volume discount levels online, and many like to purchase online, too.

Implement a full cart checkout experience for B2B buyers, complete with freight and volume shipping options.

2. The belief B2B customers don’t want to order online.

As the new generation comes to managerial and purchasing power age, their preferred method of purchasing (ecommerce) will surpass older processes.

In general, B2B customers want to see their B2C conveniences transfer over.

  • 72% of B2B customers want self-service access to accounts and orders
  • 64% of B2B customers want scheduled deliveries

“The modern millennial B2B buyer doesn’t want to have to pick up a phone to order,” says Doug Root, CEO at Atlanta Light Bulbs.

“Today’s B2B buyers just want to get things done – right then and there.”

A recent study by Heinz and SnapApp found that millennials B2B buyers aren’t just coming –– they are here.

  • 41% of millennials are either making purchasing decisions (13%) or influencing them (28%).
  • 38% are tasked with researching purchases.
  • 82% are part of the buying committee in some capacity.

And, they shop differently than their generational peers. The study found:

  • Millennial buyers are far more independent than Generation X or baby boomer buyers during their path to purchase: They conduct extensive research on their own before making any purchasing decisions.
  • While Generation X and baby boomer buyers rely on salespeople for guidance, millennial buyers are more likely to rely on the opinions of peers or outside experts than to trust a salesperson: They actively avoid engaging with sales early on; nearly 60 percent say they don’t engage with a salesperson until they’re in the middle of a purchasing decision.

These buying behaviors mimic B2C buying behaviors in which brands must educate, build trust and build community before a purchasing decision is made – or even considered.

If you want your brand to show up in those buying committees, you must have an online presence.

One last data point to drive this home:

An overwhelming majority (89%) of B2B researchers use the internet in their research process and they conduct 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site.

Karl Pawlewicz, Head of Communications, Olark.

 

A 2015 Forrester report by Andy Hoar (“Death of a B2B Salesman”) states: “The data is very clear that B2B buyers now favor do-it-yourself options for researching products and services. By a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate versus talk to sales representatives to learn about products and services.”

With this shift in preference in mind, use a CRM to capture every customer conversation and review that data often. For example, if you’re using chat to talk to customers on your website, review your transcripts regularly and look for FAQs. Use this insight to bolster your self-serve help center to make it as useful as possible.

3. The belief ecommerce requires price transparency.

With low margins and fierce competitors looking to underbid a B2B business, many brands don’t want their prices available to the public.

This safeguarding of the supply chain is understandable – and it’s why many ecommerce solutions offer price availability only after a customer logs in.

This means only your customers see the prices – and that prices can be presented exactly as negotiated for individual customers.

b2b-ecommerce-availability

You can also use your site to enable product visibility, but require customers who are not logged in to their customer groups (likely a prospect) to call in to get prices.

Brands like Selini NY simply gate pricing until you login.

Talia Wolf, Founder & Chief Optimizer, Get Uplift

Make it about the customer. While most brands focus on showcasing their products, pricing and features, what customers really care about isn’t the what, it’s the WHY.

There are hundreds of competitors out there competing for your audience, why should they choose you? The key is getting to know your customers, understanding their challenges and telling their story – not your own.

Most marketers address their customers as numbers, geographical locations or type of browser and completely forget that behind those browsers and screens are people with real challenges, searching for a solution for their problem.

Specifically with B2B products, these challenges are usually more in-depth and require a greater sense of understanding.

These shoppers aren’t just buying for themselves, they have a team, a manager and other responsibilities to consider that B2C clients may not have.

If you understand your customer’s real challenges, concerns and needs, you can optimize your site for them, address those concerns first-hand and build an experience that solves their problems and as a result grow your sales.

4. The belief online ordering is cold.

One of the best ways to make sure a customer doesn’t go to a competitor is by building a long-term, personal relationship with them.

This is why so many B2B businesses are family-owned and operated. There’s a personal touch to being one of the family: phone calls, dinners, visits and trips.

An online store can seem cold in comparison, but it doesn’t have to be.

With 24/7 chat technology that can turn an online chat on your store into a text on your phone, the new generation can communicate efficiently and effectively in their preferred communication channel: text, Facebook messenger or a variety of other options.

In fact, this type of customer service is not only easy to set up, it is highly desired by customers across the board.

A study by McKinsey & Company found that slow site response times are a B2B buyer’s biggest complaint with online ordering.

Increasing your speed to respond to a customer is today’s version of quality, face-to-face interactions. Ignore it, and you’ll lose business.

See how Freund uses chat to drive immediate conversion at the exact moment a potential new customer is ready to talk.

You’ll see Restaurantware doing the same below.

Emil Kristensen, CMO & Co-Founder, Sleeknote.

I recommend abandoning the traditional B2B sales methods.

Creating a personal relationship with your customers (business or consumer) has become much more important than a great sales pitch.

B2C communication has increasingly become more personal, and I believe that it’s the way to go for B2B communication as well.

5. The belief an online store negates custom ordering.

With B2B customers and wholesalers, the possibility for custom orders is much higher than for a B2C site.

And for many B2B businesses, they want to provide for the custom order (which helps with that personal relationship).

But custom orders aren’t often an ecommerce norm – or so many people think.

Thanks to custom quoting tools, unique variants and segmented customer groups, B2B businesses can allow customers to send in a PDF quote 24/7, then evaluate the quote and get back within regular business hours on if the unique order can be filled.

Then, your B2B business can place that customer in their own unique customer group so the next time they order, the customer won’t have to go through the quote engine.

Instead, they can just click and checkout the item that is made specially for them.

Here is how Spectrum Audio has set up their quoting tool using Quote Ninja.

b2b-ecommerce-quote-ninja

Johnathan Dane, CEO + Founder, KlientBoost.

Consider that depending on the product you’re trying to sell, some visitors will never buy it ecommerce style, but would rather talk with a person.

Depending on the customization and nuances your product has, you might find that you’ll do better with a lead generation type of approach.

B2B Ecommerce Marketing 101

No matter what your hesitation is to launching your B2B ecommerce store, know this: nothing needed for a B2B business to prosper online cannot be done.

  • Have customers who need bulk ordering? Done.
  • Have customers who need specific sizes or materials? Check.
  • Have customers with on-going accounts or pre-negotiated rates? Taken care of.

It’s time for your business to take a pie of the $6.7 trillion dollar pie.

Here’s how to market to your B2B customers to grow your online sales, streamline your business and focus on what you do best: getting product into the hands of your customers.

  1. Educate better than your competitors.
  2. Teach customers how to save themselves, and YOU, time.
  3. Use technology to reduce manual work and mistakes.
  4. Increase customer support and loyalty with all your extra time.
  5. Align your teams with a single source of truth – and scale better.
  6. Reduce costs while increase sales (no brainer).
  7. Make ecommerce integral, not central.
  8. Talk to customers as you always have – now, over text or messenger.
  9. Segment customer experiences so everyone feels special (and you don’t feel bogged down).

1. Educate customers on products, features, and promotions.

The concept of an online strategy interweaving content and commerce has a very practical application.

If a user is not presented with all of the information – from sizing charts, to ingredient lists, to how-to guides – they will seek it elsewhere.

That exploration often results in the consumer entering another purchasing funnel outside your organization’s digital commerce channel.

B2B user experiences have transformed from green screen-like portals with limited information into educational avenues that push product and promotions to your buyers.

Why? Because this is the way the online value ladder works.

  • You prove your value to customers for free through educational content.
  • Then you close the deal once they trust you.

Companies using a B2B business model have long done this with conversations over phone or drinks. Now, you need to do it to drive traffic and close sales online.

Bright AgroTech Example.

A great example of how this can be done is over on Bright Agrotech’s site.

Bright Agrotech sells to both established and aspiring farmers – and they provide all possible education to help customers at each stage of their farming business to succeed.

b2b-ecommerce-bright-agro-tech

This is only a small subset of all the educational material Bright Agrotech offers.

For any offers that are free, of which they have many, the team puts the content behind a gate to drive email leads which they can nurture into customers.

b2b-ecommerce-bright-agro

Human Solution Example.

Or, check out The Human Solution which brands itself as the ergonomic expert.

Their resources section includes:

  • Blog
  • Specs
  • Tools
  • Purchasing guides
  • Video

Ben Cahen, CEO, WisePops.

For B2B businesses, being known as value-additive is critical for sales.

First and foremost, value-additive content content ranks well in SEO, which is a huge B2B acquisition channel.

Secondly, the buyer’s journey for B2B is different than B2C, and the product will likely go through more vetting.

Being associated with value additive content improves your perceived ROI.

2. Migrate customers from offline to online channels.

The number of B2B customers that prefer to speak to a sales rep in person or using phone, fax, or even email will continue to decrease at a rapid pace as Millennial buyers gain more decision-making and purchasing power within their organizations.

Forrester Research estimates that 93% of B2B buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve already decided what to buy.

If your team is implementing a new ecommerce channel, be sure to communicate early and often with your customers.

T.A.S.C.O. Example.

T.A.S.C.O. Safety uses a banner to highlight site changes in anticipation of customer questions.

Some companies have been successful in inviting their core customers into beta testing to train, educate, and gain valuable feedback.

Regardless of how you introduce the digital channel, anticipate questions and concerns, and, most importantly, highlight the benefits of migrating to the new platform.

To ensure customers can use the platform efficiently, create:

  • FAQs
  • How-to guides
  • Interactive navigations

The Knobs Co Example.

b2b-ecommerce-knobs-co

The Knobs Co does this well by pointing B2B customers to a dedicated landing page from the homepage and clearly stating the benefits of their online purchasing program.

Once you land on the Trade Professionals page, you get further information on why you might.

b2b-ecommerce-knobs-co-1

The Knobs Co provides information here describing what those who fill out the form can expect, from customer service to quality of the product.

b2b-ecommerce-knobs-co-2

The Knobs Co provides a dedicated form to drive leads so they can immediately contact anyone interested.

b2b-ecommerce-knobs-co-3

The Knobs Co provides additional resources at the end of the page so customers can browse other areas if they aren’t yet ready to buy.

Roy Aftab, Founder + CEO, Web Ecommerce Pros.

My top piece of advice for brands selling B2B online is to reach their audience with social advocacy.

The ROI there is more than any other form of advertisement. The fundamental reason this works is that social advocacy relies on the action and feedback of real people for buying decision.

This conversational form of interaction added trust and value to your brand.

Followers are willing to pay high prices when they see influencing personalities using the product.

The investment on social advocacy gets you the currency of trust by your customers.

3. Use technology to solve ongoing customer challenges.

B2B fulfillment errors are typically exponentially greater than those associated with B2C or direct-to-consumer shopping, due to the nature of the type and quantities of product ordered.

Mistakes can result in truck or trainloads of product being impacted.

Your B2B brand needs to be able to consistently deliver the right products on time while meeting expectations.

Instead of dealing with customer service challenges, refunds, and apologies, you team must be able to develop new relationships and introduce ancillary services.

Most B2B brands use an ERP or OMS as a central source of truth – using powerful APIs to sync those systems with an ecommerce platform.

The ERP + B2B Secret Sauce (APIs):

“We use a proprietary ERP that sits on top of an IBM I-Series I-Mainframe, and we were able to get an integration built so that we can better leverage our data across systems.

One way we do this is in regard to customer service. We can pass cart details over to our ERP, and if a customer calls our customer service line and references their PO number, we can locate the record right away.

Being able to push things from our ERP into our BigCommerce store also allows us to help customers see things like their credit limits, balances, and past due balances. It’s empowering to our customers to have that data.”

– Chris Hiller, General Manager, Freund Container.

Beyond an ERP single source of truth, ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce can also automate various ecommerce aspects to better the customer experience.

Let’s look at a couple of those B2B ecommerce automations.

Automatic Inventory Management from a Customer Viewpoint

Setup rules to alert customers to inventory counts and show out of stock without having to do a single thing.

b2b-ecommerce-inventory-settings

Order Dashboard Visibility for the Fulfillment Team

A clear order dashboard is available for your fulfillment teams. You can also use APIs to send order information to an ERP for a real-time sync.

From this view, you can also clearly see the fulfillment process – what has been sent out, what is pending and why.

b2b-ecommerceorder-view-1

Further, beyond an orders dashboard, you can drill into each individual order to see fulfillment stage, order details, PO numbers and more.

b2b-ecommerce-order-view

To see how all of that looks on the front end, go ahead and visit Restaurantware’s website.

David Wiltshire, Founder, Patchworks.

Your ecommerce site for wholesale should offer the same level of service you would expect from the traditional method of an account manager on the phone. Consider your customers wants and needs and make it as simple and easy to use as possible.

Integrate your systems for the precise data flow. There’s nothing worse than a customer placing an order for stock that isn’t available.

4. Roll out programs that spur loyalty, higher order values, and increased purchasing frequency.

After the platform has been deployed, look to other initiatives to continually turn the needle.

Likely, if you are a B2B organization, you supply products that are consumable or will need to be continually maintained and replaced.

Allowing for both subscription-based and traditional one-off purchases can lock in buyers, yield higher customer lifetime values, and simplify doing business.

Furthermore, the data can empower your sales team to present and offer complementary products, as well as understand when a customer might be ready to buy.

Industry behemoth Amazon has already begun to implement these programs. For instance, certain products, such as this air filter, can be purchased in regular (monthly) increments.

b2b-ecommerce-amazon-example

On your own ecommerce store, you can use integrations with partners like Rebilla to manage saved credit card information for individual customers, or PayWhirl for recurring billing.

Sincerely Nuts Example.

Sincerely Nuts has such a program set up on their site.

Grant Thomas, Marketing Manager, Justuno.

The B2B sales process is generally longer and requires multiple marketing touches which means you need to start with leads before you get customers.

The best way for B2B businesses to capture more leads is with a lead magnet, also known as gated content.

This is a piece of downloadable content that visitors must enter an email to view.

5. Align business processes and teams to scale.

Organizations often find themselves working inefficiently due to resources being in the wrong roles, or process silos that negatively impact momentum.

These obstacles occur either because the digital channel was built as an ‘add-on,’ and not cohesively structured within the organization, or because organic decisions over time have morphed into a structure (i.e. solely Marketing or IT “owning” the ecommerce software) that no longer has an effective foundation for cross channel cohesive growth.

Here’s how to make sure your teams are aligned:

  • Review your current organizational structure.
  • Re-align your roles and resources.
  • If need be, look outside the organization and hire.
  • Once that structure is in place, have a charter over budgeting and management decisions that impact this digital team.

In addition, using a tool like Handshake can better mobilize your sales team as well as enable automated backend system updates.

“A significant portion of B2B sales are still conducted manually on paper, and for brands selling both to other businesses and consumers, B2B operations are disconnected from the rest of the business, creating duplicative workflows and inefficiencies,” said Glen Coates, CEO and co-founder at Handshake.

“Through our partnership with BigCommerce, merchants will now have access to a complete SaaS ecommerce solution for both B2C and B2B selling, empowering businesses to sell more efficiently while maximizing ROI from their technology investments.”

Here is what the Handshake app gets you:

  • Dedicated apps for field reps and B2B buyers. With support for both online and offline order capture,  the Handshake Rep App for BigCommerce creates a seamless integration between sales rep and buyer ordering workflows. The Handshake Direct Mobile app for iOS and Android provides self-serve buyers the flexibility to place orders from the stockroom or when offline.
  • Streamlined workflows and shared product attributes spanning B2C and B2B. Product attributes sync seamlessly between BigCommerce and Handshake, providing a single source of truth across both B2C and B2B channels. Once synced, Handshake orders flow back into the BigCommerce control panel, providing real-time visibility into inventory levels and orders.  
  • Advanced B2B ordering capabilities and pricing management. Provide B2B buyers with fast, convenient bulk order entry and instant reordering through an optimized interface. Enable support for advanced business rules, split orders, seasonal and customer-specific pricing, quantity breaks and more.

Easier Outbound Sales Tracking

Collect leads from trade shows and on-the-road with a one-click app. Install it on your phone, collect leads and immediately follow up with quotes and POs.

See new sales on the go..

6. Reduce back-office costs and sunset legacy systems.

As commerce platforms become more robust in functionality beyond just a “shopping cart,” their reach and influence within a company’s existing technology landscape is widening.

Lines of traditional applications are blurring as large software companies are acquiring and integrating smaller, specialized software at a rapid pace.

When undergoing a digital commerce initiative, it is important to understand the selected commerce technology platform’s roadmap and what that signifies in terms of capabilities.

This knowledge could allow you to trim license and maintenance costs on overlapping technology and reduce technical bloat.

How to Find a Company’s Road Map

Because of competition, many ecommerce platforms do not release their road maps publicly.

BigCommerce customers can join in on monthly Town Halls to get updates.

Ready to begin the RFP process?

Issuing an RFP is the next step for brands considering a re-platform. However, RFPs can be tricky – and what you include in them makes a world of difference in terms of what you get from your new platform (and also in making the right choice to begin with).

This free RFP includes 188 questions, from big ideas to minutiae, so you don’t miss a thing. 

Download your free RFP template.

7. Ensure ecommerce complements all other sales channels.

Internal Channel Conflict is a common pain point for B2B organizations.

With industry analysts predicting the demise of the B2B salesman, the online channel is recognized as a legitimate threat.

Organizations that successfully overcome internal anxiety communicate early and often with the individuals that could be affected.

The digital teams, alongside sales leadership, should showcase the benefits of customers leveraging technology-based customer self-service and how it can actually help sales members retire and exceed quotas.

For example, in the telecommunication space, B2C-like ecommerce sites often exist for SMBs to order hardware, upgrade their plans or increase their services.

Only if and when that customer becomes complex does an actual sales representative take over the account. This approach allows the team to focus more on selling and less on order taking.

NutreeVit Example.

See here how NutreeVit follows this approach.

They offer a subscription model for self-service customers, and allow for support outreach or a customer portal in order to upsell or cross-sale customers as needed.

There is also a clear Chat Box in the lower right-hand corner.

SuperGreens Energy Immune Booster

This type of model also builds a hot lead list for your salespeople.

The Modern Salesperson:

Modern salespeople do both outbound and inbound sales. Most inbound sales come from chatbots on a website.

BigCommerce integrates with multiple Live Chat services.

Here are just a few of your options:

See all your options here.

Vishal Wadher, CEO, Atmosol.

Know your demographic.

We have seen clients that “sort of” understand who their demographic is. They come to us saying, “Millennials are our core demographic,” but we soon find that is not the case, but that Gen-Xers are more apt to purchase.

Make sure you pay attention to the digital tools that you use like Facebook Insights or Google Analytics to make sure that you are marketing to the right groups.

8. Creating value for the human side of the transaction.

Usability is an essential element in creating value for customers.

This does not necessarily mean creating “consumer-like” ecommerce experiences centered on visual and interactive elements.

Instead, focus on factors like:

  • Site performance.
  • Robust search, i.e. faceted search.
  • An efficient purchasing funnel.
  • Detailed product content.
  • Simplified checkout to create a “business-like” commerce experience.

BuySwings Example

Check out BuySwings.com’s simplified checkout process that enables various B2B checkout functionalities not seen on B2C sites.

b2b-ecommerce-buy-swings-checkout

Usability also means empowering customers to take control and complete goals on their terms.

Including responsive design as part of the ecommerce software frees customers to research, complete transactions, and manage their accounts, regardless of device.

This cross-device enablement can also make sales representatives in the field far more productive and efficient.

CleanAir Example

Here is CleanAir’s desktop site, with their responsive mobile site beneath.

b2b-ecommerce-clean-air-desktop

Desktop site.

b2b-ecommerce-clean-air-mobile

Mobile site.

In terms of engagement, migrating customers to the b2b ecommerce channel should not come at the expense of creating deeper customer relationships.

Enable customer service integration to provide customer service agents with a complete view of the ecommerce system.

This allows your team to resolve issues in real-time, and act consultatively to recommend cross-sells and upsells when appropriate.

BulkBookstore Example

See below how BulkBookstore enabled this feature for their customers.

b2b-ecommerce-bulk-book

Best Access Doors Example

Best Access Doors does this by showcasing their phone number as well as enabling chat.

b2b-ecommerce-best-access-doors

B2B customers don’t necessarily interact with the website in the same way consumers do, yet it is important to educate customers and present them with highly relevant information about new products, services, and promotions.

Offer targeted content in places it will be seen, like order confirmation pages and within the My Account section.

Telephone Man Telecom Supply Example

Here is a good homepage example from Telephone Man Telecom Supply.

b2b-ecommerce-telephoneman

Alex Birkett, Growth Marketing Manager, Hubspot

Businesses are still made up of humans, so your messaging still has to be human, too.

Don’t think that because you’re a “brand” you have to sit behind this wall of jargon and distracting design. Just because it helps your sales team doesn’t mean it’s right to burden leads and customers with 43 fields on your online forms.

Text emails with personality convert well. Authentic messaging and content still works on B2B.

Don’t sacrifice what makes your brand unique because you think it’s necessary to do so only because you’re B2B.

9. Creating value for the business side of the transaction.

No two customers are the same.

Customize the ecommerce channel to cater to the way they do business and become an indispensable business partner.

This starts by building one-to-one relationships.

Use segmentation to present customer-specific catalogs and pricing, as well as introduce incentive programs that reward customers for loyalty and the volume of business they transact. 

Then, develop workflows that align the ecommerce ecosystem with the way your customers do business to remove any friction from the process.

For instance, if customers require a multi-step order approval process, the underlying ecommerce platform should be built to support this.

You can also do this with a Quoting tool.

Here is what an on-site quote builder looks like for your customers.

b2b-ecommerce-quote-ninja

Here is what you see on the backend.

b2b-ecommerce-quote-ninja-walk-thru

b2b-ecommerce-quote-ninja-example

The same goes for payments.

From enabling Purchase Orders, to checking credit availability and enforcing purchasing thresholds, ensure the ecommerce system conforms to customer needs.

For wholesale brands which need customer financing options, look for ecommerce platforms that integrate with Klarna and PayPal Credit.

b2b-ecommerce-financing

Keep customers in the loop by being transparent with data.

Proactively notify customers of backordered items and low inventory counts for products they purchase to minimize any potential disruption to their business.

BigCommerce automatically emails customers their invoices when an item is ordered and a shipping update when it is shipped out.

Merchants can use the Orders channel on the BigCommerce backend to dive into any specific area, resend invoices, manage returns and refunds, etc.

b2b-ecommerce-order-info

And though it’s only applicable in a subset of B2B use cases, enabling punchout to allow catalog feeds and ordering directly through the customer’s procurement system can make the ecommerce channel a powerful tool for building lasting value.

That’s why BigCommerce integrates with hundreds of ERP systems, syncing information back and forth in real-time.

Jessica Thiele, Marketing Manager, Virtual Logistics.

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, consumers are expecting the B2C experience in terms of how they interact with your business online.

If you think about it, this makes complete sense: your customer experience expectations as a consumer don’t change when you walk through your business’ front door for a day of B2B buying (or selling).

Make sure the experience is slick and does not violate any preconceived expectations your consumers might have.

And when in doubt, use the Amazon customer experience as a benchmark.

After all, this is the benchmark experience many consumer unconsciously compare your customer experience to.

B2B Ecommerce FAQs

B2B ecommerce is new for many large B2B businesses. Here are your top B2B Ecommerce FAQs answered, and some advice from Marcel Munoz, CTO at Thanx Media.

“Take inspiration from B2C ecommerce, but remember that there are differences. Traditionally, B2C has lead the way for innovation in the ecommerce industry, and B2B sellers can learn a great deal from watching B2C retailers, but the two cannot be treated the same.

One key difference is that B2B tends to involve longer relationships, both before the initial purchase, and as additional or repeat purchases are made.

This can be particularly useful for personalization, as more data can be found with a longer buying cycle, but this may require more attention from a traditional sales team and lead to channel conflicts.

Overcome channel conflicts by integrating ecommerce with traditional sales techniques for a positive and effective experience.”

What is the difference between B2B and B2C ecommerce?

B2B commerce is the selling of goods to businesses. B2C commerce is the selling of goods to individual consumers. The main difference is one of professional versus personal use.

What are some benefits to having a B2B ecommerce site?

  1. Increased sales: More sales with less outreach and research work.
  2. Increase brand visibility: Win RFPs by request based on SEO and ease of discoverability.
  3. Scalability: Scale your brand with both inbound and outbound sales, earning revenue for additional equipment and product lines.
  4. Expansion: Expand beyond your current offering into new categories or geographies, using a single source of truth and localized sites to win customer loyalty.
  5. Win on customer experience: Provide an automated, custom customer experience for the new generation of B2B buyer.

What is the B2B ecommerce market size?

The global B2B market size was $7.6 trillion in 2017.

What are examples of large companies who utilize B2B ecommerce?

  1. GE.
  2. Avery Dennison.
  3. Cargill.
  4. H&D Supply.
  5. Dupont.
  6. Clarion Safety.
  7. Henna Caravan.
  8. Assurant.
  9. Freund Container (Berlin Packaging).
  10. Ingredion.

Launch Your B2B Ecommerce Channel

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Schedule your custom demo.

What are some critical features of B2B ecommerce sites?

  • Allow customers to quickly purchase, track, and reorder.
  • Create custom price catalogs for individual customers or groups.
  • Enable fixed-price lists, percentage off, or volume-based discounts.
  • Set minimum, maximum per product.
  • Allow for multi-level purchase approvals + user authority levels.
  • Sync inventory, orders, and customers automatically with your existing admin.
  • Integrate the systems your business depends on: 3PL, OMS, ERP, and CRM.
  • Provide a B2C site experience for a B2B customer (login required).

Executive Summary

it is a misconception that the ecommerce world cannot support the needs of B2B sellers and brands.

It is not a misconception, however, that your brand may not be ready.

Be sure to allocate the appropriate funds to your B2B site launch – including work with partners and agencies to build the unique tools you need.

Though you may need to make an investment, the increase in revenue you can expect vastly outweighs this initial expenditure.

An ecommerce platform like BigCommerce is more than extensible enough for what you need, and some basic SEO techniques for B2B sellers will set you on the path to success.

But like any good investment and growth opportunity, there will be a small capital investment upfront.

Don’t worry though. Average launch time is three months – and sales start pouring in immediately.

Need some examples of B2B businesses putting these strategies to work? Check out our post on 13 B2B brands changing how businesses buy.

Want more insights like this?

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