Modern B2B business owners are becoming more flexible nowadays and trying to borrow and even improve upon the innovative eCommerce features of B2C retail businesses. One of such features is an online wholesale marketplace for business-to-business transactions.
Wholesale online shopping is no longer a small market, but some companies in that space are still deciding whether it’s a smart move to migrate a lot of their business to the Internet while keeping the other existing channels open.
For those who are having doubts about whether to choose multichannel eCommerce or stay put where they’re at, this post will highlight the benefits of having a multichannel distribution system. You can weigh these benefits against your doubts, and land on a decision that will best serve your business.
To begin with, let’s define multichannel retailing
As you can see from the name, multichannel retail refers to having several retailing channels through which you can sell and distribute your products and services. These channels are typically as follows:
- Physical stores or showrooms – These are traditional brick and mortar shops, which the consumers visit in order to experience the look and feel of products and consult with “human” shop assistants.
- Traditional mail – Before B2B eCommerce platforms arrived, sellers used to send consumers and businesses thick paper catalogs containing the list of their top products together with photos, prices, special offers, etc. Some companies still send such catalogs today, or even make them digitally.
- Phone calls – It was and still is possible to order items from the catalog via the phone. Before eCommerce, it was also possible to browse the online catalog and make a telephone order. Now, when stores offer electronic shopping carts, comprehensive product content, and online checkout, ordering via phone is gradually becoming a relic of the past.
- Third-party online marketplaces – These are online shops like Amazon or eBay, which “rent” their marketplace to businesses.
- Online store – This is a dedicated online shop owned by the seller, where the consumers can log in and place orders. It’s also the epicenter of all product data management.
- Social media – Social networks act rather like advertising platforms, but they are powerful tools that help convert prospects into customers.
- Mobile apps – These are smartphone apps that help consumers choose the products and make purchases in a matter of a screen touch.
- AI chatbots – Some eCommerce shops already integrated artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, which act like virtual shopping assistants, helping the consumers to make their purchasing decisions.
Today’s wholesale customers expect to have a smooth experience when working with their B2B partners. Unfortunately, according to research by Accenture, about half of B2B customers report that they made business-related purchases on B2C websites. This number represents a significant lost opportunity for B2B wholesalers.
The advantages of multichannel wholesale eCommerce
Many B2B wholesalers just aren’t seeing the value in eCommerce platforms, and that’s a mistake. Let’s take a look at what they’re missing:
- Increased customer loyalty – Modern consumers prefer to shop online, which is also true for B2B wholesale consumers. In B2B transactions, both parties are businesses and, therefore, don’t have much time to visit physical stores, make phone calls, or flip through lengthy paper catalogs. Your customers will be extremely grateful to get the opportunity to make their purchasing decisions without leaving the office, and multichannel eCommerce will give them such an opportunity. A convenient, user-friendly wholesale marketplace online will help you retain your customers and form long-term relationships with them.
- Revenue growth – According to a report by Stitch Labs, merchants who use the multichannel approach get 190% more revenue than those who have no online marketplace. A tremendous difference, isn’t it? Actually, many consumers are ready to pay more in exchange for a smooth shopping experience, which is something that can be achieved with multichannel eCommerce solutions.
- Expanded sales geography – With a traditional brick and mortar store, you have fewer opportunities to sell your products and services to clients outside of your country. Of course, you can open several B2B wholesale stores worldwide, but it requires lots of time, effort, and costs. On the contrary, with a sales channel strategy that involves online stores, you can ship your products worldwide without a need to open physical stores abroad. You can sell your products on Amazon, eBay, and other similar third-party marketplaces. Besides, integrated 24/7 customer support can eliminate issues related to different time zones.
- Focus on target markets – Based on the channel that your B2B customers use for shopping, merchants can create customized offers. Selling through multiple sales channels gives the merchants more information about their customers and lets them make use of that information to increase sales. Tracking customer purchases also gives merchants the opportunity to introduce targeted marketing and, thus, increase brand awareness.
- Elimination of risks – Having several sales channels reduces the risks that can cost merchants big time. For example, if a digital wholesale store goes down for technical reasons, there is always a back-up opportunity to visit an offline store. Besides, having a physical store in addition to an online store will enable your customers to see the products “in real life” before they buy them.
- Saved time – One of the biggest hurdles B2B wholesalers face is speeding up the process from order placement to fulfillment. The fulfillment chain involves everyone from finance to sales to warehouse workers, so it makes sense to have a centralized eCommerce wholesale system where anyone can see all necessary information at any time. This reduces the chances of errors and improves communication between teams, thus increasing the efficiency of the entire sales process.
Now you know the advantages of multichannel distribution and B2B eCommerce benefits that can bring greater success to your business.