B2B e-commerce is hugely different from the B2C e-commerce, because of the different models of business where stock size and prices are different from that for the customers. But the evolution in technology and the preferences of people have changed it drastically from that of two years back.
From $5.5 trillion in the year 2012, B2B E-Commerce is expected to grow to $12 trillion worldwide by 2020.
The time has changed, indeed!
For long, B2B sales had been through traditional practices on the field, but now the technology and E-Commerce revolution have made a significant change in the B2B marketing. Needless to say, the offline mode of B2B sales works for a definite timeframe of the day but B2B E-commerce model creates the opportunity for the wholesalers to be active 24×7.
A few years back, E-Commerce was considered customer centric platform, not anymore.
The demand for convenience and customer like experience for retailers is slowly rising as the internet and smartphones further penetrate the market. Those who still have not implemented B2B E-Commerce platform are now adapting to the popular demand. Surveys clearly suggest that given the chance, 88% B2B Purchasers would prefer the E-Commerce platform.
In the next one year, 42% businesses that had still not opted for B2B E-Commerce, are expected to start implementing B2B E-Commerce.
One of the biggest reasons for this shift is the ease of operations and streamlined processes that E-Commerce platform brings together. It also helps to automate the sales and reduces costs and errors. But most importantly, the potential scalability for the business with E-Commerce Platform is huge. The popularity of Alibaba.com and AmazonSupply.com is the proof of this.
There are a few factors which need to be resolved carefully for successful implementation of E-Commerce for B2B. Like, integrating the E-Commerce platform with the current organizational matrix, using the right technology for development, dependence on third party service providers for effective implementation, etc. are the issues that must be addressed before opting for E-Commerce. The difficulty in showcasing products, variable prices, high volumes, complex shipping and policy regulations make the entire scenario a little too confusing.
But before thinking of selling through E-Commerce, one should research well about the key features required. It’s not a rocket science; businesses can leverage the existing features of B2B platforms, with minimal modifications.
Here are some of them.
Variable Pricing – As it has been the practice of B2B business, the prices vary depending on the customer, loyalty and order quantity. The E-Commerce platform should allow these pricing mechanisms.
Sales Personnel – The E-Commerce is expected to reduce dependence on the manpower to get a quote but it is regarded as greatly helpful in managing existing sales representatives and their assignments.
Stock Level – The customers should know if the company has adequate stock available or not, or when it could be made available. The E-Commerce platform should have this on constant update basis.
Quick Order / Quote – To give the user a feeling of speed and swift user experience, features to ask for a quick quote or booking order should be added to the website.
Product Search Box – Customers should be able to search the product easily. As it is seen in the case of B2C E-Commerce, the longer it takes to find the product, the lesser are chances of conversion.
Flexible Checkout Process – Depending on the company’s policies of payment and shipping, the checkout process for the customer should be designed to give them maximum flexibility.
Customer Registration – Registration process for customers / multiple users should not be tedious. Easy registration and sign up create good trust and preference in the customer’s mind.
Mobile responsiveness – Most of the E-Commerce activities are carried out from mobile phones and this trend is set to grow much more. The E-Commerce platform should be easily viewed from any device.
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