10 Reasons to add e-commerce to your B2B business
If you’re looking to transform your business, with a focus on both growth and cost saving, it’s time to consider implementing a B2B e-commerce system. Take this one step further by also integrating with your ERP, and you create a seamless two-way flow of live information. There are so many benefits to this, including streamlining your business processes and creating happy customers and staff. It’s a win-win, with satisfaction all round.
Why add e-commerce to your B2B business?
A B2B e-commerce business involves a distributor, wholesaler or manufacturer selling online to other businesses – who in turn sells to other businesses or the end consumer.
By their nature, these B2B transactions are more complex than those in a retail business. There are often customer-specific agreements in place and because large quantities of stock are usually involved, managing inventory levels becomes critical. The potential for mistakes, or at the very least, inefficiencies, is high – unless you have a B2B e-commerce system in place.
Best of all, a B2B system is quick to set up and can be customised to your business processes and current systems. There are no hidden costs and you know upfront exactly what you’ll be getting (and paying).
Let’s see how all this can benefit you.
1. Attract more customers with an open catalogue
Boost your online presence by switching from a closed system, restricted to current customers only, to an open, public one. This means that when you implement a digital marketing campaign, your products will appear in search engine results. Potential new customers can easily find you, whether they are resellers or end consumers looking for a stockist of your products.
2. Sell wider and deeper
A well-designed B2B portal helps customers see your range of products at a glance – far more effectively than an old fashioned hard copy catalogue. As a result, they may consider additional products to their usual purchases. Add to that an excellent search function, and they can easily find exactly what they’re looking for. B2C features such as reviews and recommended or related products are now expected by B2B customers, and these functionalities provide an opportunity to increase the value of your orders too.
3. Improve your Average Order Value (AOV)
Your B2B e-commerce system needs to display customer-specific (volume) discounts to encourage larger orders. It also needs to support cross and up-selling, recommended/related products and reviews at a minimum. Moreover, it needs to be able to integrate with a marketing automation system to send personalised emails offering free shipping or gifts over a threshold and/or product bundles that may make sense to your customer.
4. Boost your customers’ sales (and yours)
Even if you don’t choose to go as far as a complete dropshipping model as described in our B2B 123 approach, managing your product information all the way down the line has many benefits. Getting your customers to use your B2B e-commerce system gives them access to attractive product images, descriptive product information and accurate stock levels. This is a proven way to help sell more of your products. Automate as much of the process as you can to maximise the advantages of this.
5. Free up your sales team to sell more
In many companies, the sales and/or customer service teams spend most of their time servicing a large base of smaller customers, dealing with queries, orders and deliveries. With a B2B e-commerce system, so much of the process is automated that these customers can largely take care of themselves. This leaves your sales team free to make a far greater impact, taking care of customers who want to grow or who are at risk of leaving or need attention. Customer service teams can also focus on providing quality support where it really counts.
6. Speed up fulfilment and reduce errors or delays
When your customers place their orders in your B2B e-commerce system, those orders are automatically placed in your ERP system too. No more delays in waiting for someone from your team to key data into the ERP system, and there are no errors in translation. Instead the order fulfilment process begins immediately, resulting in faster delivery to the customer.
7. Closely manage stock levels
As an order is entered into the B2B system, immediately updating your ERP, the inventory is also automatically updated. The reverse is also true. As your stock levels are adjusted in the ERP, your B2B system is immediately updated. As a result, stock levels in both systems are always in sync and accurate, allowing customers to have confidence in your data and you to manage re-ordering (and therefore your cash flow) much more closely. If you integrate to your suppliers, you can even trigger automated ordering when stock drops below a minimum level.
8. Unify your customer and product data
A B2B e-commerce system, integrated with your ERP, provides a central place to host all your customer and product data, doing away with silos in your business. That data includes orders, customer-specific price levels, discounts and history, as well as product specifications and stock levels. Both customers and your team members can access their relevant data via an easy-to-use, friendly and cost-effective interface, so everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, wherever they are.
9. Reduce admin and rework with automation
When information from customers needs to be entered on the system by a staff member, costly mistakes can be made, wasting time and money. Automation and integration with your ERP results in far fewer mistakes, which means more orders can be processed in less time. This saves you money and also builds your customers’ trust and confidence in your business.
10. Retain customers with self-sufficiency and omnichannel
With instant online access to all the information they need and the ability to order at any time of day or night, the restriction of business hours falls away. Customers are empowered to look after themselves, which means less paperwork and fewer emails and phone calls for your team to process. If they do need personal assistance though, or prefer to use another channel, they should be able to do that too. To keep them happy, make sure you provide options for them to choose from.
The bottom line…
Implementing B2B e-commerce in your business will help you streamline your processes and grow your revenue, while minimising costs. Apart from the obvious benefits of this to you, you’ll also be boosting your customer satisfaction levels – and that’s laying the foundation for future success.
- Watch this video: 10 Benefits of a B2B e-commerce system
- Watch this video: B2B e-commerce: Increase customer satisfaction and retention
- Watch this video: B2B e-commerce system: Increase efficiency and reduce admin
- Watch this video: B2B e-commerce solution: Transform your sales team