B2B E-Commerce: Strategic Changes for Growth

B2B E-Commerce: Strategic Changes for Growth

Building a business is similar to working out.  Increasing revenue, expanding profit margins and lowering costs parallels the goals of increasing strength, improving health and shedding pounds.  The key to both of these endeavors is repetition.  In the growing sector of business to business e-commerce, repeat business, or customer loyalty, provides a tremendous opportunity.  A study by Forrester Research shows that while returning buyers only account for 27% of an e-commerce customer base, they contribute 41% of total revenues.  Just as sticking to a fitness regimen with return visits to the gym will yield the results you’re striving for, creating an e-commerce platform and operation that keeps customers coming back can differentiate your business.  Here are three strategic tips to keep your B2B e-commerce operation growing and your customers returning.

1.) Emulate B2C best practices:  When corporate buyers make purchases for the company, it is human nature for their personal preferences and expectations to dictate how they shop.  For personal shopping needs, Amazon has set the bar pretty high.  In fact, Amazon has become such a preferred avenue that 30% of shoppers begin an online purchasing search on Amazon, versus 13% that start with Google, according to Forrester Research.  It is important that your B2B platform provides a similar experience that is as comfortable and simple for business procurement.

2.) Streamline delivery: Abandoned shopping carts are literally lost revenue.  The top reason that shoppers leave carts without purchasing is due to shipping details.  According to comScore, 55% of shoppers abandon a purchase because the shipping cost is too high, 51% when shipping isn’t free and 40% when shipping details are not clear or up front in the process.  A key advantage that e-commerce offers is the lack of overhead required to build and maintain a brick and mortar location as well as staff it with salespeople.  Investing in fulfillment infrastructure can negate that advantage.  Managing logistics in-house can not only eat into your profit margins, it can lead to a poor customer experience.  Peter Drucker said it best, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest.”  Leveraging a 3PL can help avoid these shipping woes and get more of your shopping carts submitted. 

3.) Sell with content: Huge companies, like Amazon, have millions of products that need to be described, cataloged and presented.  This means that all merchandise in these channels will be displayed identically.  This is where small and medium B2B suppliers can create an advantage.  By promoting and positioning the benefits and features of a brand or product, the content of your platform can do a lot of the heavy lifting.  Including full dimensions, multiple images and the ability to share with other people are all important elements that can create a better shopping experience and encourage corporate buyers to return.

With B2B e-commerce enjoying an average revenue growth of 19% annually, the transition from dollars being spent in stores to online from corporate buyers is largely responsible.  It is estimated that within 3 years, 50% of business customers will make their purchases online.  In order to capitalize on this growth, creating a platform and managing processes that create return visits will be vital.  Addressing fulfilment and logistics issues will be key in enhancing your customers’ shopping experience.  Barrett Distribution Centers leverages technology and expertise to design and implement custom supply chain solutions that will augment your B2B e-commerce outfit.