Thanks to the Internet, people have developed an increasing desire for information. Particularly for consumers, the information superhighway has made it easier to gather information so they can make smarter, more informed purchasing decisions.
B2B buyers are no different. In fact, they don’t just want easy access to distributor product information, they expect it. However, not all wholesalers are quick to meet their demands. For years the distribution industry has shrouded itself in a cloak of mystery for fear if they publish their product pricing or catalogs online, the competition will gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, this rationale is backfiring for those distributors as buyer needs are outweighing the competitive threat.
Transparency is the new necessity for B2Bs
Why make B2B buyers jump through hoops to find your product information? They’re looking for a quicker, more flexible way to shop so they can purchase what they need and move on to the next task at hand. If your website requires them to log in with a user name and password to simply view your product catalog, you’re not only deterring people from your site, you may also be seen as evasive and untrustworthy. Providing full product offerings and pricing on your website is table stakes today.
There are also those vendors who display their products online, but refuse to include pricing. But researchers from the Nielsen Norman Group found that business customers consider pricing as the top, most-needed piece of information online. Wholesale products and services can be complex and multifaceted, and usually involve contracted pricing. But despite these price intricacies, buyers still want immediate access to pricing information during their initial research phase, even if they are list prices. Providing this level of transparency may encourage buyers to register with you to find out just how much lower your prices can be.
According to Forrester and Internet Retailer, three-quarters of B2B buyers say making a purchase from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales rep. When you offer more transparency for your buyers with an easy-to-access online product catalog and pricing, everyone benefits:
- Better brand visibility
- More site traffic, which leads to more conversions
- The most current product information available 24/7
- Faster product search options
- Quicker, more efficient ordering
What about showing competitor pricing for products?
There are some B2C companies like Progressive Insurance that offer full transparency to shoppers by displaying their prices as well as those of their competitors. While the wholesale marketplace hasn’t really jumped on board with this marketing tactic, it does warrant a discussion.
The pros of displaying competitor pricing
- It helps the buyer make informed decisions
If you know your buyers are always looking for the best deal on a product, and your product prices are generally lower than the competition, then they can see the price comparison and know they’re getting the best price.
- You’re doing the legwork for shoppers
Even if you don’t always have the lowest price, you’ve done the research for them and saved them time. Plus, by publishing competitor prices, it shows just how confident you are in your products, services and brand – which can go a long way with buyers.
The cons of displaying competitive pricing
- The competition’s pricing could be much lower than yours
You don’t want to promote obvious price differences if you’re the one with the higher price the majority of the time. It’s better to focus on your positives, not your negatives.
- Some B2B buyers want the best value over lowest price point
Many distributors build their business with strong customer service and industry expertise, not lowest prices. This added value is what many buyers look for over lowest price because they want to buy from a business they can rely on and trust.
Acquiring competitor product information
There are tools available that gathers competitors’ online product information to help you develop better business and pricing strategies. In addition to pricing information, they can collect product specifications and features. While there are limitations as to how much you can alter your price points compared to the competition, the insights gathered can help you benchmark against the marketplace and improve your overall product offerings.
Unilog’s all-in-one eCommerce software platform, CIMM2, has a module that automatically crawls and retrieves data and MAP pricing for competitive products. The data captured can then be imported directly into CIMM2, Microsoft Excel or other standard file formats.
How much will you show buyers online?
Businesses have different offerings, customers and competition, so only you can decide how transparent you want to be with buyers. But B2B trends show organizations are sharing more product information online due to increased customer demand. So reach out to your customers, find out what they want to see, and then determine what’s feasible and works within your business strategy. You may just find that the more information you provide online, the more successful you’ll become.