The high-speed marketplace of ecommerce continues to grow and present organizations with fresh opportunities. Online retail sales showed ongoing gains in 2017, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting $453.5 billion in total sales, up 16 percent from the previous year. Business-to-business ecommerce is the most valuable segment of this market and expanding fast.
Forrester projected that the B2B ecommerce market will be worth $1.2 trillion by 2021 and account for 13.1 percent of all U.S. B2B sales. That movement means there are tremendous openings for new players to make their name, but they must overcome stiff competition to capture the attention of business customers and keep them coming back. Organizations draw on a high level of expertise to capture the full potential of the rapid growth in online sales and achieve sustainable success.
By forming strategic partnerships, ecommerce firms gain access to the infrastructure, technology and market savvy they need to maintain quality relationships with business customers and scale up over time. These seven steps will guide decision makers in developing a forward-looking approach to the specialized service and convenience that today's organizations demand.
Establish a strategy for building relationships with businesses
Thriving in B2B ecommerce starts with a clear understanding of what companies want from merchants. The needs of businesses often differ from consumers in many ways, ranging from preferences for a broader variety of payment options to more complex requirements for fulfillment. Collecting intelligence and looking at every decision through a strategic lens positions an organization to fulfill those expectations.
One of the most significant distinctions lies in business customers' purchase processes. The journey toward buying a particular product or service tends to involve input from multiple stakeholders, and gathering those perspectives can take a long time. Consequently, ecommerce organizations more often make decisions based in logic after weighing complicated factors as compared to consumers, who can be impulsive.
B2B ecommerce sites need to convince users they are making the right choice throughout an extended purchase journey and then keep them returning for the long term. To develop an effective strategy, organizations should draw on extensive, reliable data for analysis and planning. Monitoring key performance metrics, keeping tabs on competitors and wisely allocating inventory can make a critical difference in planning for long-term success.
Guide buyers through a quality ecommerce experience
While B2B ecommerce operations stand apart from B2C, there is a great deal of common ground. Just like consumers, businesses are more likely to take an interest in an organization when it puts its best foot forward through an attractive, well-built site. An ecommerce page that performs reliably and puts an impressive face on the company with appealing design is more likely to deliver conversions.
Organizations have numerous options to make their online presence more effective by implementing intriguing design choices and compelling photography. However, the top priority should always be enabling secure, transparent transactions. By using advanced solutions to integrate with POS and ERP systems and keep private data safe, a retailer builds up buyers' confidence and its own reputation.
Carefully target marketing
Increasing focus on analytics has made a huge impact in strategic marketing, and B2B merchants have to keep up. Thorough market segmentation and effective messaging are increasingly essential for organizations to reach the right audiences and thrive in a crowded marketplace full of competing messages. By drawing on robust data to direct their advertising and communications efforts, decision makers can act to boost site traffic and conversions.
In B2B ecommerce, it's especially important to develop messaging that guides varied stakeholders along the purchase path with plenty of information and opportunities for direct engagement. Online retailers look for the most persuasive ways to draw business customers away from brick-and-mortar channels and then maximize their lifetime value. Content, merchandising and promotions based in thoughtful data analysis are important assets in these marketing initiatives.
Manage fulfillment with punctuality and agility
While speedy fulfillment is the name of the game in ecommerce, B2B operations don't have the same objectives as B2C companies. Rather than focusing on getting individual products out to customers right away, these companies must make supplies of items available when businesses need them. Offering the widest possible range of options for customized order fulfillment and maintaining a wide reach for delivery are key factors in meeting these requirements.
Making fulfillment operations a strength takes strategic investment in warehousing space and personnel. A B2B merchant should have thorough visibility into its inventory, seamlessly exchanging essential data and promoting efficient processes at every stage. By looking for key insights and planning ahead, an organization can be proactive in doing its part on the supply chain and anticipating the needs of other companies.
Engage with business customers
In the past, B2B sales were more often based on one-to-one connections between sales representatives and stakeholders. While online sales have transformed the equation, its still crucial to personalize the experience as much as possible. Merchants optimize their sales by having the ability to align with their customers' requirements and being prepared to meet specialized requirements.
Building a proactive engagement strategy is vital for establishing productive relationships that last and nurturing these connections. Much like B2C retailers, B2B organizations should be equipped to communicate through multiple channels, staying readily accessible via phone and email. Whenever technical issues or customer service problems arise, it's crucial to have the capabilities to resolve them quickly and effectively.
Prepare to scale
Business customers are always working to expand into new markets and capture a wider base of consumers, so B2B companies must be ready to grow as well. Establishing scalable operations can make lasting, productive relationships possible. A partner with a combination of advanced tools and fulfillment services allows the flexibility to scale up everything from the technical infrastructure for a high-performance ecommerce website to physical locations for warehousing
Making the leap to B2B ecommerce in today's complex, ever-accelerating environment takes powerful technology and efficient processes. Leveraging an SaaS ecommerce platform enables successful growth as the B2B space becomes even more competitive. Those tools are especially effective when they are tied to end-to-end support from a resourceful, experienced company. Onestop Internet provides a full range of customized B2B ecommerce solutions tailored to realize the potential of organizations and facilitate growth.
Onestop Internet brings all these services together, putting the tools that power great commerce into the hands of retailers. Economies of scale make the difference between struggling to keep up and confident, sustainable growth in ecommerce. With a vertically integrated partner on their side, organizations can focus on the products and services they know best while reaping all the rewards that come with advanced, international operations.