Unlocking New Revenue Streams in B2B: Creating a New Vertical B2B portal
In our last article (in the “New Revenue Streams” series), we discuss a situation where a company acquires its digital competitor, assuming that the acquired competitor is in the same industry. However, this might not always be the case and your company might want to try new verticals and adjacent industries. In that case, your current ecommerce platform might not have all the relevant functions to cover the acquired competitor’s business processes and consequently, will require some fine-tuning and adjustments. You may need to add relevant product properties, account for distinct contractual obligations (to cover different periods, delivery specifications, approval processes), and onboard new third parties (suppliers and transport companies). To put it shortly, in order to unlock new revenues, you’ll need to provide your acquired customers with a new (relevant) customer experience aligned with their expectations for that particular industry, thus new B2B portal might be needed.
It is worth mentioning that while entering new industries can lead to growth and prosperity, the process is not without obstacles and doesn’t guarantee any favorable results. Therefore, it is important to perform your due diligence and assess all the possible risks and benefits of entering a different industry.
Below are a top-5 questions you should ask yourself before embarking on your new journey:
- Who are your competitors? What is the growth rate of the market? Are there any obstacles to enter the industry? Do you plan to grow organically or through acquisitions?
- How well equipped are you to serve the market? Do you possess enough resources? What expenses can you foresee to enter and establish yourself as a competitive market player in the industry?
- Who are your new customers, and what is the best way to reach them?
- What is your customers’ buying journey? What are your customers’ expectations regarding the shopping experience?
- Will your current ecommerce solution be capable of accommodating a new market? Can it extend, work with multiple channels, integrate with third-party systems, translate different prices and catalogs to different channels?
Answering these questions will help you define the basic pillars of entering a new market and understand if you are financially and technologically mature for expanding your business. In this article, we’ll mainly address the technological side of the problem. Perhaps, the following explanation will help you figure out if your B2B ecommerce platform can handle a new challenge.
Imagine a situation where you sell food products to retailers and consider tapping into the restaurant business (or acquiring a competitor selling food products to restaurants). Retailers and restaurants will require different customer experiences: restaurants are likely to require a few shipments over a short, designated period (two pounds of salmon for tomorrow), while retailers will have bigger and more consistent demands over protracted periods (weekly or monthly shipments of N pallets of canned tuna). The chain stores usually require more specific contractual obligations for longer periods (say, six months), rigid pricing, and shipment schedules. Instead of retailers and restaurants, there might be other industries that have their own specific business logic and interaction scenarios, requiring distinct customer experiences.
Challenges and solution
The challenge (in a situation such as described above) is creating different customer experiences for different channels. To solve this challenge, your B2B ecommerce platform needs to be multi-channel and headless. In a headless approach, the front end has access to the back end via APIs, which allows you to attach as many front ends to the single back end as needed. By having a headless B2B ecommerce platform, you can maintain several websites (one for each industry), so that customers from different industries have relevant experiences, and connect them to the common back end, which will translate the relevant business logic to each channel.
This way, each website can have its separate design, upselling logic, catalog representation, price lists, promotions, and so on.
The virtual digital catalogs (based on a master physical catalog) guarantee that each channel only sees products that are relevant to their industry (without duplication or omission).
Since businesses in different industries have their relevant workflows, your B2B ecommerce solution must differentiate the workflows accordingly: for example, for restaurants, there may be just a few people who deal with procurement, while in the retailer chains, the workflows can be complex and require granular access levels and approval steps.
Similarly, the pricing module needs to be flexible enough to sustain varying pricing strategies for different channels.
Virto Commerce B2B ecommerce platform meets all the above requirements and can deal with those challenges flawlessly: it’s multi-channel and headless, has virtual catalogs, and its own extensible Price Module. The platform supports multiple languages and integrations and can seamlessly exist adjacent to your old ecommerce platform or can be built on top of it. You don’t necessarily have to re-platform (unless you want to), because Virto Commerce can exist along with your old solution, and two platforms can integrate and complement each other.
If you want to learn more about how the Virto Commerce B2B ecommerce platform can help your business to expand, schedule a free 30-minute demo now!