Today’s B2B buyer has high expectations. They are smart, tech savvy and know they have endless options when it comes to buying for their company. In addition, B2B buyers want the same exact experience as consumers, despite the more complex nature of wholesale sales.
Furthermore, Amazon’s launch into the B2B eCommerce should have rang the alarm for wholesale distribution companies years ago. When Amazon launched B2B sales in 2015, it “generated a tidy $1 billion in sales.”
Companies can purchase from Amazon Business on their terms with the help of price comparisons, multiple payment methods and purchasing policy controls. Undoubtedly, Amazon will further disrupt B2B sales and force more companies to modernize with technology or even kill those businesses who aren’t on board with it.
Overall, B2B eCommerce is growing at such a fast rate that it’s expected to surpass 1.8 trillion by 2023, according to Forrester. Put simply, this is the age of digital transformation for the B2B industry. The bottom line is that if companies don’t adapt, their chance for long-term success deteriorates or disappears completely.
The bottom line is the old way isn’t working anymore and it’s likely not to exist for much longer. “Less than 50% of B2B companies have an eCommerce site today, but 70% of those will have one within two years,” according to Digital Commerce 360.
Today, companies must adopt new technologies to win customers over. Without a digital-first strategy, companies will struggle to obtain new customers and keep the ones they have.
Wholesale distributors need to be prepared to deliver against the following B2B eCommerce trends.
B2B eCommerce Trends
- A personalized buying experience via a B2B portal
- To self-serve any of their needs, from viewing orders to invoices
- To be able to track their orders and shipments
- To view inventory levels in real time
- To place orders via mobile devices and on desktops
- Their data to be shared across every channel
- To get what they need online without calling into customer service
For the companies that can do the aforementioned, it will create new, substantive opportunities that will aid the growth and success of your company. More importantly, it will improve your company’s chance for long-term success and push out the B2B companies that are slow to adopt technology.
Let’s jump into seven ways you can use a B2B eCommerce platform to capitalize on these trends.
7 B2B eCommerce Must-have Features
1. Advanced Pricing
As a wholesale distributor, you likely offer multiple price levels. Buyers want to be able to login into your B2B portal and see their customized pricing, whether on a product page or when placing a large, grid order. Essentially, you need to be able to display the customized pricing for every customer and this is typically achieved via your B2B portal.
2. Order and Shipment Tracking
Buyers want to be able to closely track orders and shipments. This feature is also typically found inside your B2B portal, where buyers can place and edit orders on their own. Just like consumers, buyers also want to be able to track their shipment, so this feature is critical to customer satisfaction. Essentially, your buyers want to know what stage their order is in and where their shipment is at any given moment.
3. Real-time Inventory Tracking
Today, without real-time inventory tracking, you aren’t in business as a wholesale distributor. In truth, you can be; but not effectively enough to keep up with the speed of business today. If you’re using Excel spreadsheets to track inventory, you run the risk of not being able to fulfill orders and an increased rate of human error. The bottom line here is that you need inventory management software to help you track orders and inventory in real time, which in turn will improve the buyer experience.
4. Payment Options
Buyers want multiple payment options today. Sometimes, they want to pay by invoice and other times, they may want to pay with a credit card. Either way, it’s essential to use payment processing integrations, to accept payments. In addition, buyers should be able to login into your B2B portal and view the invoices they’ve paid and any balances due.
5. Mobile App
A mobile-responsive app isn’t going to cut it today for B2B eCommerce. A downloadable mobile application for buyers is going to give them the convenience they want to buy anytime, anywhere. Buyers should be able to login to search for products, view pricing and make purchases with ease via your mobile application.
6. Key Integrations with Online Marketplaces
Another way to capture new sales is to list products in several of the popular online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon or Etsy. These marketplaces, which have massive audiences of their own, are also a great way to get rid of excess or dead inventory. If you’re in the early stages of your business, these highly-popular online marketplaces are often a great way to grow your brand and company.
7. EDI Integration
For legacy brands and big box stores, the use of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) still remains a popular choice to exchange purchase orders. Because EDI is commonly used by large retailers (big box stores) and companies, you’re likely missing out on sizeable sales if you aren’t EDI ready.
With Amazon’s entry into B2B eCommerce and the tech-savvy buyers of today, wholesale distributors must embrace “e wholesaling”. By providing the aforementioned capabilities, you will better be able to win and retain customers. Your long-term success depends on it.