What is B2B ecommerce?
B2B ecommerce, also known as business-to-business electronic commerce, can be defined as the process of businesses selling to other businesses online. There are different types of B2B sellers – B2B2C, Wholesale, Distributors and Manufacturers. However, their main ecommerce goals are the same – sell to and build connections with other businesses.
Many B2B companies opt for using a B2B ecommerce platform to help manage the business. Commerce platforms are great for storing data in one place for a more streamline omnichannel approach – an approach commonly used in B2B business models.
Popular B2B ecommerce platforms include (but are not limited to):
1. Shopify (Shopify Plus)
4. Magento (Magento 2)
All these platforms support B2B ecommerce websites inventory management, supply chain, plug-ins, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Order Management System (OMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) etc.
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A summary of the current B2B ecommerce market
B2B ecommerce is rapidly growing. More and more businesses are becoming accustomed to online selling and buying. Research shows that nearly 50% of B2B businesses now conduct over 50% of all purchases online. With over 20% of businesses completing 75% or more of their purchasing online.
In 2020, the global B2B ecommerce market size was valued at $6.64 trillion and forecasts predict it will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 18.7% from now to 2028.
On top of this the B2B buyer audience has almost doubled. Before 2020, the B2B target audience was primarily made up of baby boomers and Gen X. Surveys have shown that people in these demographics preferred doing business in more traditional forms, such as; data sheets, conferences, print ads etc. Forrester’s 2020 research stated that 73% of millennials are now involved in B2B ecommerce – with this number only growing. This is the generation that has grown up alongside technology development their entire lives – the structure of B2B ecommerce was bound to undergo a makeover.
These stats are hard to ignore.
There’s no doubt that the B2B ecommerce market is quickly evolving. As the market shifts to a more tech driven approach. What does this mean for B2B businesses?
It means the B2B buyer’s expectations have been optimised and the competition to win their attention has skyrocketed.
“Despite being slow to adopt ecommerce, B2B brands are increasingly looking to digital means to boost sales — a move driven by the success of Amazon Business and the changing B2B buyer demographic.” – BigCommerce
B2B ecommerce businesses now need to put their efforts into wowing their customers by putting user experience (UX) at the heart of all their B2B marketing strategies. More on how to do this later – first let’s take a look at the changing B2B buyer persona.
The changing B2B buyer persona
B2B customers want to buy online for speed, efficiency and accessibility. As B2B buyers become more accustomed to making large corporate purchases online, they increasingly expect the same high-quality experiences that they would receive from a B2C ecommerce retailer. They want seamless user experiences that are personalised to their B2B ecommerce needs and wants.
A common trend in the B2C ecommerce industry at the moment is providing an in-store experience online. Although B2B ecommerce transactions are quite different from B2C, B2B companies can learn from B2C marketing strategies to improve their customer experience and stand out from the competition.
The main goal now for B2B sellers is adjusting their digital commerce strategy to meet the growing needs of their buyers.
A great way to start is at the beginning. Think about all the different kinds of customer personas your B2B business has. These personas can then determine the personalised online journey that your customer takes (e.g. create segments based on the persona criteria).
Typical buyer profiling can include (but are not limited to):
- Preferences (including content preferences)
- Priorities and initiatives
- Purchase history and purchase patterns (including budgets)
- Buying criteria and risk factors
- Common challenges and pain points
- Common triggers and events
- Geographic data
- Psychographic data
- Buying processes and buyer journeys
- Buying team structures
- Customer specific catalog and pricing
- Management of complex catalogs
- Product and service bundles
- Quick orders, bulk orders and reorders
- Flexible promotions and payments
- Intelligent search and merchandising
- Punchout catalog
- Single platform for multi-brand, multi-country, multi-currency
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8 top B2B ecommerce best practices for 2022
1. Be efficient
Speed, ease and efficiency is critical for B2B business transactions. Once you have converted a customer and agreed upon a contract, your customers will typically perform repeated tasks each month (or everytime they need to restock). These tasks could include things, such as; checking order status, reordering products, approving payment etc. Any repetitive tasks need to be able to perform quickly and with minimal effort.
In addition, when your customers log in they should only see relevant products and pricing to them. B2B businesses customers only want to see products that are related to them, their needs and their contract.
The ideal is that you want to get your B2B buyers from the homepage, to the shopping cart, through the checkout, and re-purchasing your products in as few clicks as possible. Saving your customers time, effort and resources.
2. Make reordering easy
In order to make reordering easy you could automate payment options by providing an option in their customer account to save credit card and shipping details. In addition, a new trend at the moment, in both B2B and B2C, is offering safe payment options, such as; PayPal and Buy Now Pay Later.
Moreover, if you want to encourage your customers to reorder products you could include personalised product recommendations based on their buying history – and include a discounted price for bulk ordering, to increase average order value and number of SKUs per order. AI driven product recommendations are also a great way to expand product awareness. Include personalised product recommendations for products they may be interested in based on their previous purchases.
3. Optimise for all devices
Again speed is crucial. So it goes without saying that your site performance needs to be fast across all devices. Hand-held devices are becoming more popular within the work place as they are more portable. B2B buyers could be quickly checking an order’s status or updating some details using a hand-held device like a tablet or smartphone. 50% of B2B queries today are made on handheld devices. Therefore, the way the B2B ecommerce site loads, looks and functions needs to be excellent across all devices.
4. Keep your B2B buyers well informed
You do not want your customers to have to dig around for answers. They should be able to find them easily. It is important to keep your B2B buyers informed by linking them to related content, datasheets and relevant additional products and/or alternate products.
Additionally, providing self help solutions in the form of on-site content is always useful. Success stories, reviews, FAQs and blogs tend to be great for SEO purposes and for providing quick answers to your customers.
5. Harness the power of 24/7 self service options
One of the benefits of digital commerce is being able to offer 24/7 self service. It massively increases the user experience by always being able to cater to the needs of your customers. The two most commonly used services are automated and personalised chatbots and live chat.
The main differences between chat bot and live chat are human and machine interactions. A chatbot is powered by automation. Whereas, live chat is typically manned by a human. Although, some live chats allow you to have elements of automation too. Equally both allow you to connect better with your customers and provide them with answers they need fast.
6. Leverage customer insights
It is essential that you harness the power of customer insights to drive your actions. Most B2B ecommerce businesses will be able to use valuable data stored in the CRM, marketing automation tools and analytics – both social media and google analytics.
Monitoring and analysing all customer data collectively allows B2B sellers to understand their customers behaviours, interests and shopping traits, to establish smarter and more efficient techniques of merchandising. For instance, leverage purchasing history to choose new product bundles, or map out customer journeys to understand how to organise pages – the lists are endless.
7. Unite your sales team
From the analytical data that your channels collect, identify which customer data is most valuable for your sales team. Your sales representatives can then use this data to understand how to re-engage with existing customers or target new customers.
This data is best stored on a shared dashboard or platform – using an omnichannel approach – to increase transparency, understanding and workflow.
It is crucial that all ecommerce strategies compliment all other sales channels and that there is a constant communication between them both.
8. Prioritise user experience
As we have stated above the B2B buyer’s expectations have evolved – they are now looking for personalised experiences, hyper-focused on their customer needs.
Ecommerce personalisation solutions, like PureClarity, allows you to create individual user journey’s to meet the requirements of your B2B customer. This is done through a variety of tools and content, that all adapt in real time to ensure that the right content is being shown at the right time to the right audiences – maximising online sales.
One of the tools that ecommerce personalisation provides you with is the ability to segment your audiences based on factors, such as; buying behaviour, pricing, product access, demographics, physiographics and geographical location. These segments can be tailored to suit the needs of your B2B buyer personas too.
For instance, you could create customer segments for quick orders, bulk orders and reorders. This kind of segment could be applied to AI product recommendations to encourage upsells and cross sells to increase B2B sales. Or use a personalised banner segmented based on past history orders to direct visitors straight to the products they want to reorder to speed up the sales process.
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How can PureClarity help B2B retailers?
If you’re looking for an easy, cost-effective method for improving your B2B ecommerce strategy, online sales and customer experience, our AI-driven ecommerce personalisation engine might be the perfect B2B ecommerce solution for you.
We are specialists in creating seamless and unique buying experiences for individual online shoppers. We support and integrate with all the major B2B ecommerce platforms, including; Shopify (Shopify Plus), BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento (Magento 2), and X-Cart.
Many of our B2B clients are already reaping the benefits of adding personalisation to their online store. If you are interested in listening to how we can help you achieve your business needs – book a personalised discovery call.
B2B / B2C businesses successfully reaping the benefits of ecommerce personalisation:
1. Prima Coffee
Prima Coffee are purveyors of the finest coffee and espresso equipment, based in Louisville, KY. They are both B2C and B2B focused. As well as products they offer services such as; open a cafe, wholesale, sell or trade and repair a machine.
Since Prima Coffee started with PureClarity they have seen an AOV increase by 6.5%, AOV involving AI product recommenders has increased by 43.9% and average number of SKUs involving recommenders has increased by 46%.
“When we signed up for the initial trial with PureClarity I was really pleased with how quickly we were able to get the recommenders set up and see some really positive results in regards to our overall average order value. After continuing the use of PureClarity after our trial period, we worked to expand our use of the tools to more aspects of our site. This has allowed us to tailor content based on the customer’s history with our catalog and content. We have been able to see a positive ROI and are continuing to use new, creative methods through PureClarity to provide a personalised shopping experience to our customers.”
– Jordan Kavuma, Director of Marketing
2. Nightingale PPE
Nightingale PPE was born out of the pandemic. The business was established to provide both businesses and consumers protective medical supplies and equipment such as masks, gloves, and sanitisers at an affordable price. Nightingale PPE pride themselves on their moral ethics, excellent customer service, and competitive prices. Their sole purpose is to keep their customers as safe as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.
Nightingale PPE started implementing our ecommerce personalisation solution at the beginning of 2021, in January, and since then have seen 60% increase in AOV and 5% increase in average number of SKUs purchased involving PureClarity’s recommenders.
“My partner and I established Nightingale PPE off the back of the pandemic. PureClarity is an affordable ecommerce personalisation solution that allows us to stand out in the market and grow at a fast pace. Since working with PureClarity we have seen a huge increase in our average order value, overall revenue and conversion rate. Moreover, the customer service that we have received has been second to none. All the team are extremely helpful with campaign recommendations, onboarding and support. We couldn’t be happier with the results and service that PureClarity provides month on month and are extremely excited to see what the future holds.”
Dave McIntyre, Founder and CEO of Nightingale PPE
Cablecraft is the UK’s largest cable accessories supplier and manufacturer, with over 30 years industry experience.
Since starting to use PureClarity, on average each month 7.5% of all online orders are attributable to PureClarity. Through the use of both custom and AI driven recommenders and pop-ups on not only their homepage but their product and basket pages, their average order value has increased by 11.5%.
“We were very pleased that Fluid Commerce introduced us to PureClarity. We trust Fluid’s recommendations, and so far, we have seen some fantastic successes. The service has been second to none, and we often work very closely with Martin, our account manager at PureClarity who helps make suggestions to improve the performance of our campaigns on a monthly basis, as well as providing additional training whenever required. We would highly recommend the platform to other retailers.”
Shannen Hurley, Marketing & Communications Team Leader
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