What is business-to-business ecommerce? B2B ecommerce examples

B2B ecommerce has become vital to the global economy. Learn more, through interesting B2B ecommerce trends and examples about the exciting topic of business-to-business ecommerce.

Updated: August 10, 2020 | Ilse Lauwens, Marketing Director

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B2B ecommerce has become vital to the global economy. According to the most recent forecasts, all B2B ecommerce revenue will be around 7 trillion USD by 2023. This prediction may even be underestimated, considering the rapid growth of the online market, given changing behavioral patterns due to the quarantine measures.

Graphic / Source: Statista

Graphic / Source: Statista

`At the time this article was updated, many marketing gurus predict that a significant proportion of consumers will not return to visiting offline stores even if the pandemic it is over. This is a massive driver to push up the online trade for the last decade.

For the B2B online market, growth is also expected to pick up after the pandemic, as the people responsible for business-to-business transactions no longer meet in person. Negotiations on the terms and conditions of transactions and subsequent payments in B2B are now mostly carried out online. It is difficult to predict the further B2B market’s percentage growth in mid-2020, but it is likely to accelerate significantly in 2021 and beyond.

To understand what business-to-business ecommerce is, in reality, imagine a complex network of cross-company transactions and supply chains that support the supply of goods in a supermarket. B2B sales support each purchase.

B2B (business-to-business) is focused on the sale of products, services, or information to other businesses, and stands in contrast to B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2G (business-to-government) models. All these marketing principles relate to the same basic principles, but B2B relies primarily on valuable and robust business relationships to ensure committed customers in the long-term. The success factors of B2B leaders include an effective account management team, good process optimization and benefits from technological innovations.

What is a B2B ecommerce company?

A B2B company is essentially a business relationship between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. A supply chain usually involves more than two companies. Such goods as plastic, grain, or chemicals don't always have a practical use for consumers but are important for wholesale distribution, which is the base of the business-2-business model. Products and resources may be provided from a number of suppliers; and careful planning is vital to performing-efficient transactions, considering complex integration schemes.

What is business-to-business ecommerce?

The Internet allows companies to increase their prospect pool. Full online presence grants access to many more potential consumers and partners than traditional advertising models. According to statistics, over 90% of product researches on a B2B level starts with search engines. So, the Internet becomes an essential trade channel for B2B ecommerce examples.

A company would make great digital marketing efforts to evolve into a strong brand. There are many articles and training courses dedicated to online promotion and SEO. Still, all efforts would be in vain if a prospective partner leaves the page in a few minutes because the website itself is “inconvenient”. If a visitor is confused from the first minute of being on the website, all other benefits — a company offers — may fade out of sight.

Business to business in ecommerce is an online business model with flexible enterprise software as a ground solution for purchasing, selling and promoting services, information, or products.

In B2B ecommerce examples, ecommerce technology can become a critical success factor. The website must represent your business well, be user-friendly, and allow prospective buyers to get the information they have been searching for. This raises a question about the right choice of business-to-business ecommerce software.

Why is B2B ecommerce software important?

With the advancements in digital technologies and especially the Internet, more and more businesses are transferring their services and products into online field. Therefore, the company that is hesitant to invest in digital expansion will be behind any competition. Why is B2B ecommerce software important?

With the advancements in digital technologies and especially the Internet, more and more businesses are transferring their services and products into online field. Therefore, the company that is hesitant to invest in digital expansion will be behind any competition. Only with the Internet, it has become possible to attract a broader range of customers and sell products way beyond one’s company's business hours.

Suppose you are a manufacturer or distribution company and you don't put money into the B2B ecommerce platform. This will cause you to lose revenue and possibly go bankrupt, thus not getting the customer base. With convenient applications, three-quarters of the B2B customers find it very comfortable to purchase a product from the website rather of a sales rep. The majority of the nowadays workforce is represented by the millennial generation, trying to take easy approaches in embracing ecommerce business models and expanding their stores into new broad digital markets.

What is a B2B ecommerce omnichannel strategy and how to create it?

  1. Consider the configuration of the products. B2B ecommerce platforms previously could not offer good sales for complex products and services. Now, you don’t even have to worry about it as these solutions have expanded their functionality by providing different marketing tools, product filters, and configurations. The first thing you need to do is to create a strategy tocategorize your products. If some of your products are more sophisticated than others, consider hiring a sales representative.
  2. Consider customer buying behaviors. It is a much better practice to trace customer buying behaviors and their usage of various selling channels. With this crucial information, you can increase your conversion rate and optimize your marketing solutions by prioritizing products.
  3. Buying phase – channel connection. You must clearly connect each of the buying phases with your available channels. With the direct effort put into this, you can significantly increase your conversion rate. Consider researching how clients engage in product reviews, how they ask questions, and how orders, renewals and new purchases are treated.
  4. Do not put away a channel conflict. Clarify the rules with any of the partners you may have. Always ensure there are as few misunderstandings as possible between your partners by increasing the quality of your products and executing reordering activity with the sales representative quotas' help.

What is B2B ecommerce software?

A B2B ecommerce platform must meet the following requirements:

  • Scalability

As your website’s popularity increases and your business evolves, it can become difficult to scale it with minimal effort and avoid proportional growth of infrastructure management costs. Progressive ideas, new trading partners’ joining, services expansion, integrating your other systems and channels are all excellent reasons to level up. The optimal business-to-business ecommerce solution must be equipped with scalable software architecture and a powerful, flexible engine able to conform to ongoing integration. A platform with a strong API can be integrated much more easily than an outdated solution.

  • Flexibility

When evaluating ecommerce applications, the flexibility of a solution is essential. It allows you to customize it for the unique needs of your B2B company. A highly integrated B2B solution is involved in many systems and processes. While putting continued emphasis on business evolution, a company should look for the platform base’s modularity, which must be focused on fitting your unique business processes while being configurable for a clean and easy integration at the same time.

An out-of-the-box solution allows you not to start from scratch. But super-structured templates can only be a temporary solution. An open source ecommerce software gives you the flexibility to design, customize and be truly creative while configuring your B2B website.

  • Reliability

The solution must be secure and robust. This factor applies to the security within the company and the security of your client data. Things like personal data protection and PCI compliance are indispensable options for ecommerce sellers to safeguard their customers' information. An ecommerce management system must accentuate roles and permissions.

One of the other frequent requirements is data hosting.

The difference between cloud-based and on-premise hosting affects many areas of an ecommerce platform, such as maintenance, costs, customization, and security. An on-premise solution means the control is entirely yours. But also server maintenance and fixing upcoming issues are your responsibility. Cloud-based hosting provides cost-efficiency and scalability, as well as the secure connection between multiple B2B partners. It's trendy to claim that the future is in the cloud. But the level of control that comes with on-premise hosting can be worth the added responsibilities. It isultimately up to you to see which solution works better for your company’s security demands.

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  • Usability and transparency

Information management and promoting product usability are the key components of B2B marketing campaigns. eCcommerce software should provide a promotion service engine with powerful and easy-to-use tools to optimize your offers, drive conversions and intuitive controls that can be used without in-depth training. Clear ticketing system, simple event and campaign creation, optimized content management and rapid order management are the groundwork for an online store. Stats tracking and reporting allow you to gain insights into your B2B businesses online and drive specific campaigns. You cannot control what you cannot measure. The monitoring of business metrics must be detailed and easily accessible.

Many B2B ecommerce platforms and solutions share similar practices while providing slightly different sets of features and functions. Before you invest, it is always useful to research and examine the specific criteria vital to your business-to-business ecommerce model.

Virto Commerce business to business ecommerce solution is built to support complex scenarios. The possibilities of this platform meet the full spectrum of business requirements to succeed in a competitive market.

What is EDI and why is it useful for business-to-business ecommerce?

EDI (stands for electronic data interchange) is a paperless, highly efficient way to send various documents between companies (such as purchase orders and invoices). EDI lets businesses exchange information using a standardized format. It is generally used to help streamline the communication and build efficient workflow between a manufacturer and its supply chain.

In the retail industry, EDI helps to cut costs while still maintaining a high level of customer service.

EDI is not to be confused with a web store, however. Just like business-to-consumer and B2B ecommerce platforms, EDI and web stores serve different purposes. EDI is a more efficient way to handle communication between organizations regarding the recurring orders of standard goods. At the same time, a web store is more efficient when it comes to incidental purchases that do not need to be fully automated. Web stores are usually better for promoting new products to clients and exploring cross-selling and upselling options.

The benefits of integrated B2B ecommerce connected to ERP

Integrated B2B ecommerce is a system organization that uses business logic and data from your ERP (and potentially other systems) to increase your online store’s performance.

Integrated web store software dips directly into your ERP system, which helps avoid complex connections and allows data to be gathered directly, offering a number of important benefits, such as:

  • Product catalog that updates automatically and is always current
  • Custom pricing options
  • Drastically reduced the possibility of human error during order processing

Learn more about Virto Commerce B2B ecommerce platform

What is PIM and how is it beneficial for your business-to-business ecommerce system?

PIM systems enrich ERP product data by categorizing and unifying product data. The result can be used in your business-to-business ecommerce to ensure your product pages provide complete and comprehensive data.

Product information management (PIM) systems provide a considerable advantage for B2B ecommerce stores by providing more detailed product specifications.

What are B2B ecommerce KPIs?

KPIs give you an idea of how well your B2B online shopping cart platform is performing. Revenue is always a good indicator, but it is not the only one - there are several KPIs to make sure you’re on the right path. Below are a few examples:

Online Customer retention rate
A high number of returning visitors is a clear sign that your web store meets your clients’ demands! This KPI shows how well your B2B online store performs in terms of customer experience.
Average order value
What is business-to-business ecommerce getting out of this one? This KPI allows you to compare a customer’s average online order value with their offline spending helping you identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities and evaluate how well the online store performs.

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Ilse Lauwens
Director Marketing