With much of the action in the eCommerce space happening in the B2C area, little attention is paid to how B2B eCommerce has fared and what is the next big thing in this segment?
In the past couple of years, analysts have predicted tremendous growth in B2B eCommerce and the sector did perform well. A survey last year revealed about 57% of the business buyers purchased goods online and about half of them spent over $5000 for their purchase. According to Forrester, the B2B market size is estimated to be $599 billion in 2013. And with more business buyers willing to spend more for their online purchases, it is poised to grow in line with expectations. In fact, if the strategies of B2B vendors are aligned with the trend, it may even exceed the estimate.
Though the market size of B2B is almost double that of the B2C space, it is not mature. There are a few big name entrants in the B2B eCommerce space such as Amazon with their “Amazon Supply” and Google with their “Shopping for Suppliers” who draw their expertise from their successful B2C eCommerce implementations.
So how can your business compete in this space? Here are three ways to ensure your B2B eCommerce initiative is on the right path:
• Multichannel and Mobile:
Enable your online content across various devices and platforms. Some of the examples are mobile, tablets and computers spread across operating platforms like Windows, Apple or Android etc. This will improve availability to your customers and they will be more likely to spend on your online platform.
This multichannel enablement must not just stop with your customers and your eCommerce platform, but should be extended to your field personnel as well, so that their mobility is ensured and the data available to them at real-time.
• Self care:
Reduce the phone calls by providing online self-help for your customers. You should also enable chat, email or call back options so that they can communicate with your sales and service teams in case of difficulties while ordering.
This over time will improve your customer’s experience and will also enable them to be familiar with your online portal.
• B2B Merchandising tactics:
The B2C segment is more mature in providing personalization and offers to attract customers. Provide product recommendations based on customer’s buying patterns, search and viewing history. Keep your content clean and categorized so that products can be grouped. Sometimes, even unrelated products can be grouped based on the order trends you notice on your system.
Providing bundled deals to your customer will also improve your engagement with them as well as revenues through cross and up-selling.
While all these may entail technology and data driven initiatives in your business which can sometimes be off-putting, the rewards are enticing enough to invest time and money in these initiatives.