As consumers, we have all witnessed the transformation of the B2C market through the use of digital technologies. Selling direct to customers has enabled retailers to tap into specific market segments through understanding their customers better as well as creating efficiencies in their supply chain and entering into overseas markets.
Some of these trends are now filtering through to the B2B market, with manufacturers expanding their online trading presence. However, just as in the consumer market, success requires flexibility and agility as well as a significant change in mindset.
In B2B transactions, a business is purchasing the goods and/or services of another business; the decision making process can be complex and the purchase decision may involved a number of people.
The types of digital infrastructure now used in B2B e-commerce range from basic, entry level product catalogue sites with good search engine provision, through to operators who use artificial intelligence to guide visitors through their buying process. As B2B e-commerce sites increase in complexity, we would expect to see features such as tutorials, videos and comparisons with leading competitors.
Being able to access support quickly and easily is a rising star in the B2B sector. For example, by providing an online chat service. Personalisation of the customer experience is also gaining popularity in the B2B market. Providing facilities to fully customise requirements – from size and colour to where and when the product needs to be delivered are all tactics that can provide a competitive edge. For example, packaging web sites may provide a visualisation of a product featuring your required logo and colour.
If you are at the start of your e-commerce journey, some key steps to consider include:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – make sure that your products can be found by internet searching
- Personalising the experience – whether that is by providing customer specific pricing, product listings etc.
- Integration with database (ERP) systems for stock checking, payment options.
Philippa Bevan has over 25 years commercial and public sector experience in marketing, market research and product management spanning the education, laboratory, medical device, technology transfer and packaging industries. Philippa has a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology and Virology and is a Chartered Marketer.