According to estimates from Gartner Group and Forrester Research Inc. B2B eCommerce sales in US is projected to be around $ 1 trillion in 2014; nearly 4 times the size of the B2C eCommerce market with sales of $263.3 billion. Despite these numbers,eCommerce has traditionally been associated with B2C businesses and witnessed a number of innovations. But with rising popularity of B2CeCommerce, buyers are now bringing with them the same expectations of a seamless shopping experience to the world of B2B eCommerce.
To deal with this, Wholesalers, Distributors and Manufacturers do not necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. They can leverage the features available in B2C eCommerce stores to provide their B2B customers detailed product information in multiple formats (text, amazing visuals, videos, manuals, etc.), excellent search functionality, product reviews and ratings and more.
But it cannot end here, in B2B sales are little more complex than in B2C. In B2C products are easy to showcase, prices fixed, quantities low, shipping easy and regulations (taxes and otherwise) easy to follow. In the contrasting B2B environment products are difficult to showcase, prices highly variable, volumes higher, shipping complex and regulations complex. To cater to these differences you require your B2B eCommerce store to offer much more than what a traditional B2C eCommerce store can offer. In this article we have highlighted a few features which when added to the features of a B2C eCommerce store can give you the required push to drive your B2B eCommerce sales.
Customer Specific Pricing – Variable pricing is very common in a B2B environment and your eCommerce store will be of very little use to you if it does not allow you to offer different prices to different customers, and at times different prices to the same customer. The eCommerce store must make this process convenient for you by allowing you to create price rules based on customer, order quantity, etc.
Sales Quotation – Imagine the impact an online sales quotation module can have on your sales cycle and conversions. With ability to create, modify and approve sales quotation online your customer can now quickly negotiate and convert quotes into orders; a process which could have taken days earlier can now be quickly completed in a few hours.
Sales Person – It is not enough to just get your customers online, your sales representatives too benefit too. With access to all the product, inventory and customer information online your sales representatives can now be more informed and effective; they can now close more deals with the resources they have. The sales portal also lets you do administrative tasks effectively like assigning customers to sales person, calculate commissions, etc.
National Accounts – Customers are treated differently in the world of eCommerce. You often find that you have multiple buyers from the same company and payments consolidated. This relationship can be a little tricky to manage in a traditional B2C eCommerce environment and hence your B2B eCommerce store must allow you to define a company as a parent with customers as children; this will allow you to adjust a payment received from the parent company against invoices outstanding from child customers, reassign credit documents, etc.
Credit Limits, Net Terms and Bill Pay – Unlike B2C, where payment happens instantaneously (delayed in some cases like cash on delivery), sales in B2B often happens on credit with pre agreed payment terms. With quotations and sale happening online it is important for your eCommerce store to allow your customers to place orders on credit and then settle invoices online when the time comes. Not only that, it is also important for your business to sync this information back to your accounting/ ERP system to streamline business processes.
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