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The Role of e-Commerce in B2B Markets of Goods and Services

8 Mins read

When thinking about electronic commerce, the most common path is to do it with natural persons who buy their products through the Internet. However, there are also companies that trade online with other companies. This is what is known as B2B e-commerce, and it is one of the sectors that offers the most opportunities today. 

What is B2B e-commerce?

B2B electronic commerce is a type of ecommerce that is characterized by being carried out between companies. In fact, B2B means “business to business”. That is, “from business to business.” This type of commerce is the one that is established when a company sells its products to another company, which will be the one that will later sell them to a final consumer (in which case we speak of B2C or “business to costumer”, as for example happens with the supermarkets or retail stores).

Differences between B2B and B2C e-commerce

The main difference between B2B and B2C e-commerce is in the message that is issued to capture the attention of the potential buyer. Several tips and tricks are suggested; however, it is always worth including a buyer’s guide so the customers can quickly get introduced to the products and services, quality, and other features. While in the case of B2C businesses the message will seek a greater impact on the emotional side or on the benefits provided by the product, when it comes to a B2B sale the message should focus both on the characteristics of the product itself and on the price.

In this sense, it must be borne in mind that a B2B buyer does not buy for himself, but for his company. In other words, the search for economic benefits is a factor that plays a predominant role. Therefore, both the price and the characteristics of the product outweigh the direct benefits that will be obtained from its use.

Potential benefits of B2B e-commerce

Although B2B commerce can be found both online and offline, electronic commerce has several additional benefits compared to offline that should be taken into account.

Greater potential buyers: One of the main advantages that B2B e-commerce offers compared to its offline version is that online allows you to reach a much larger market of potential customers. In fact, being an online business, sales can be carried out globally, which, inevitably, implies a greater volume of business and, with it, profits. 

Lower cost of marketing and infrastructure: On the other hand, B2B e-commerce requires less investment in both marketing and infrastructure to maintain the business. In this way, in addition to having access to more customers, the fixed cost of running the business is considerably reduced. 

It is not exclusive of B2B offline: Finally, another of the most important advantages that must be taken into account when talking about B2B electronic commerce is that it is not exclusive of offline commerce. In fact, an offline B2B company can maintain its traditional sales approach and, at the same time, bet on digitization as a way to expand its business. And, if you consider it appropriate in the future, keep only the online part. 

Important factors to consider in B2B e-commerce

However, although B2B e-commerce offers important advantages compared to its offline version, it is also important that it has certain elements that characterize this type of business. Some of the most important are the following:

The sales page is the showcase: Since the activity of a B2B company that operates online takes place on the Internet, its sales website is also its showcase. For this reason, it is important to adapt it to the needs of customers and, above all, to make it attractive, as well as easy and comfortable to use. 

Optimized customer area: Also, because B2B sales are usually very loyal, it is important that customers have their optimized private area. Or, in other words, that each client has their personal account on the B2B seller’s page and does not have to enter their purchase data every time they want to place a new order. This, in addition to streamlining the sales processes, also contributes to giving a better image by favoring customer comfort. 

Sales adapted to wholesale trade: Another element that must be taken into account in B2B e-commerce is that the quantities and sales volumes are adapted to the business directed at companies. It should not be forgotten that the target audience is not the retail market but the wholesale market. For this reason, it is essential that the products are sold in batches adapted to your most specific and common needs. 

Having solutions adapted to e-commerce: Finally, it is important to have solutions adapted to e-commerce. Especially in the aspects related to business logistics, since they will be the ones that allow the product to reach the buyer and, at the same time, will directly affect the shopping experience.

As you can see, B2B e-commerce has certain similarities with B2C commerce. However, it also has its particular characteristics that make it important to adapt the business to the needs of the sector. In this way, you will ensure better business performance and more satisfied customers.

Private buyers vs. customer decision-making units (DMU)

Consumers decide on their own about their purchases, while professional B2B purchases are much more complex and therefore, they use purchasing platforms composed of several people who, based on different data and information, make decisions about the purchases of their company.

Product search functionality

While consumers search ecommerce by brand name or item description, B2B buyers search using identification numbers to ensure they are getting the right item, as there may only be one exact part that fits your needs. needs. 

Products available

B2C stores offer standard products that are in a catalog, while B2B stores, although they may also have a catalog, offer more complex products on request, which are adapted to the needs of each company. 

Topology

In B2C, the traditional internet network is used, where the end user connects and the seller is behind a firewall, either directly connected or through an ISP.

The B2B model uses traditional internet or private network with trusted business partners. The private network can be a VPN network that uses the infrastructure of the Internet.

What is B2B ecommerce for?

It means conducting business operations faster and safer. This helps the number of transactions to increase and therefore contribute to faster growth. The B2B helps the commercial activity reduce management costs and thus allowing higher profit margins.

Companies that identify with a B2B service accept that they have a smaller number of potential customers, but in return, they can further personalize their product, as well as the marketing strategies used for its commercialization.

Therefore, it is common for companies to maintain loyalty relationships, maintaining suppliers over time. 

When it comes to attracting new customers, they also use multiple online platforms to achieve new business relationships such as business exchanges by geographical areas or by industrial sectors.

The main advantages of B2B e-commerce are:

  • It allows you to capture more business opportunities.
  • Increase sales of B2B businesses.
  • Reduce costs.
  • The opinion of the clients is received, to achieve continuous improvement.
  • Easier to reach new markets.

It allows to centralize the data through a B2B electronic commerce integrated into the ERP.

The EDI or electronic exchange of data enables companies to exchange information using a standardized language. It facilitates effective coordination between companies to place periodic orders and handles them more efficiently than an online store could.

On the contrary, an online store is a much more efficient sales channel in the case of purchases that do not need to be fully automated. Thanks to product catalogs, they are very efficient at promoting new products and opening new cross-selling and targeted selling options. Minimize the costs of the order process, through automation.

Then, we have integrated e-commerce that uses the logic and data of the company from its ERP (and optional additional systems) to boost its online store, offering advantages such as the reduction of human error in order processing, the automatic updating of the catalog. of products or integrated software for the online store, thanks to the fact that it is linked to your ERP system. 

Allow your B2B customers to manage their business accounts themselves, configure multiple specific roles and permissions, track budgets or view detailed order history. This shopping experience, similar to that of conventional online shopping, is more satisfying as it helps to gain loyalty and maintain business growth.

Among the four common models for B2B we have:

  • Buy-side , (e-procurement): they are electronic commerce transactions between a purchasing organization and its suppliers. Pre-negotiation agreements are often used.
  • Sell-side (e-catalog): These are commercial transactions between an organization that acts as a supplier and its customers. The vendor sets the way in which buyers should order and is often similar to an online store where customers can directly view products and place orders.
  • E-Marketplaces: in addition to being an online store , it enables the establishment of business between the companies involved, due to the fact that it uses a type of B2B AND B2C electronic commerce, user/buyer networks that use unions, reverse 
  • and exchanges.
  • Trading Partner Agreements: it is based on automation processes between companies.

Some Ecommerce Trends in 2021

API-Based Digital Commerce and Composable Commerce

Use interchangeable solutions and applications and merge different elements to produce a service that meets the specific needs of your customers. APIs (Application Program Interface) integrate the various solutions to create a highly personalized and streamlined shopping experience. 

Modeling B2B eCommerce on B2C eCommerce: 

B2C e-commerce is so developed that it makes sense to adapt the same channels used in B2C to buyers of B2B commerce. After all, a B2B is also a customer looking to buy, so it incorporates typical B2C functionalities such as product recommendations, which on the one hand improve cross-selling and on the other provide a much more attractive shopping experience.

Fintech as a Service: 

They allow B2B to offer the payment and payment methods preferred by customers and suppliers around the world through single API integration. 

The best solutions include fraud protection or multi-currency support. 

Immersive Commerce: 

It uses technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and 360- degree product images to enhance the customer experience and help customers make better purchasing decisions.

B2B Enterprise Marketplaces: 

Approximately 87% of B2B buyers shop on these marketplaces. They are customers who are really interested in buying, to whom our catalog of services can be provided very easily and the orders placed can be managed in a very efficient and fast way.

B2B Marketing Tips

Constant marketing efforts 

It will allow you to stay connected with our audience. Marketing is essential when launching a brand and generating interest.

Improve communication between marketing and sales

Fluid communication between them is very important in order to implement sales and marketing strategies that are much more effective. It is not enough to launch generic ads to create brand awareness.

Identify more profitable customers 

We often find that midsize companies tend to be the best customers. Many times they are in the process of growth, which means that they are willing to spend more on products and services that allow them to do so. 

Measure ROI

It allows us to measure the success of our marketing campaigns, review analytics, and then optimize and refine your strategy.

The Growth of B2B Ecommerce

B2B ecommerce is only expected to grow in the future as more and more markets open up for trading goods and services. The industry continues to blossom and with companies like eWorldTrade facilitating businesses and offering them a wide range of options, it’s easy to understand that the industry will continue to grow. 

The growth of ecommerce is also expected to quicken over time as more and more companies start buying online. It’s understandable that the industry will change dramatically as newer technologies are pioneered and worked upon. It’s an exciting time to be a B2B supplier or marketer, that’s for sure!

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