By Binny Joseph
B2B ecommerce solutions have far surpassed the growth of their B2C counterpart in the last few years. Recording a 31% increase in the gross merchandise volume (GMV) from 2013 to 2017, business to business online commerce is poised for exceptional growth in the times to come.
Going online with their enterprise business has not only opened new markets for wholesalers but also made the processes more streamlined and easier to manage. It has also helped the businesses save a lot on operational costs. Not only this the brands that opted for the ecommerce rote also got higher conversions, improved customer relationships and retention.
Having well designed B2B ecommerce solutions also offers better insight into business and requirements of the end clients. However, all these benefits can be lost if you are not aware of the common mistakes many enterprise businesses tend to make when they go online.
How to Identify the Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business
In the rush to go online many companies give less importance to some crucial aspects of starting an online enterprise business. As a result, they miss business opportunities and may not optimize the efficiencies of their system. In the long run, this becomes detrimental to the growth of the organization.
However, it is difficult to envision some of these pitfalls right in the beginning. To reduce the risk of failure, you need to look for B2B ecommerce solutions that have features to mitigate these risks. Let’s see what the common mistakes and what type of software solution are to opt for to overcome it;
A Poor Website Look Feel and Functionality
Your website leaves the first impression of your brand on the buyers who come through various online channels. And the modern online buyers, conditioned by their seamless B2C experiences expect a finetuned, fast, and visually engaging website.
If you are under the notion that business to business website need not have the same high level of UI/UX as its B2C counterpart, you are sadly mistaken. This misbelief can cost you dearly and turn away your genuine buyers to your competitors.
It is a known fact that we all use our mobile phones to begin the search for any service or product we are interested in, so, it naturally becomes important to look for B2B ecommerce solutions that allow your website to function seamlessly on multiple devices, especially smartphones.
Also, your website design should be well optimized for various devices. The site speed should also be fast so that it does not take ages for the site to load on mobile. The products on your site should be well organised in multi-tier categories and the navigation and search should make it easy for your clients to find what they are looking for.
Along with this a B2B ecommerce platform that is SEO friendly can help you rank faster on SERPs. If it has inbuilt features to add meta title, descriptions and keywords, handles canonical URL and other SEO features, it can help you get organic traffic faster.
Along with the special features needed for a B2B setup (like a multi-seller marketplace, multi-store, multilingual site, pricing overrides, bulk order processing, custom ricing etc.) if your platform takes care of the above, consider yourself lucky and go for it.
No Focus on Product Details
In an offline setup usually, a salesperson explains the details and features of your products to the buyers. When the customer surfs online for products the same role is played by the product details you provide on your site. If your site offers inadequate details or images of products, this is bound to result in loss of potential sale.
Your B2B ecommerce platform should offer you the functionality to add multiple images, videos, product descriptions and other relevant details of your products to keep your customers engaged and informed. If your product images cannot be displayed in high resolution, the buyers might not get a feel of their quality. This may distract them, and you might lose a potential sale.
Additionally, you should also have FAQ and user reviews on your products page to save time on queries and make the buying process faster. If you also add finer details like model number, weight (where applicable) it can help your clients make an instant purchase decision thus boosting your conversions.
Single Pricing for All Clients
Unlike B2C where the prices are the same for all customers, B2B ecommerce solutions need to have the inherent capability of offering custom pricing to each client. The prices of different clients in a business to business environment vary based on their order size, loyalty and longstanding relations and also the product’s availability in comparison to its demand.
If your business does not have automated processes to offer custom pricing to your clients, you might lose some customers eventually or earn a lesser profit margin. On the other hand, if your B2B ecommerce solutions offer features where you can offer wholesale and retail pricing, IP based pricing overrides, login-based pricing to your customer your enterprise business has a better chance at success.
Limited Payment Options
To get maximum conversions you must offer the maximum possible payment channels to your clients. Having limited payment methods on your website is a recipe for losing your clients. This fact becomes even more pronounced when you are dealing with enterprise clients spread across the globe.
If your B2B ecommerce platform allows you to add any number of payment channels including payment gateways, bank transactions, wallets etc. then you will be able to enable your clients to use the most convenient and viable payment option as per your choice.
So look out for a platform that offers to integrate with a variety of national and international payment gateways, enables multi-currency payments, IP based currency changes, location-based payment gateway selection, customized checkouts, automatic reconciliations, support for loyalty wallets etc to facilitate your domestic and international clients.
A B2B ecommerce platform with these features will not only meet the expectations of your client but will gradually also increase your sales volume.
Lack Of B2C Features
B2C ecommerce has set up high benchmark for website owners and now the savvy buyers want to have a smooth, easy and fun buying experience on B2B websites as well. With B2C buying conditioning our shopping experience every day, the clients now expect the same features and functionalities on a business to business site as well.
If you do not want to lag behind, you will have to incorporate B2C elements on your B2B ecommerce platform. Some of the features that can keep your customers happy and coming back for more to your brand are, seamless site navigation, cross-device compatibility, easy search, simple and quick checkout process, personalised deals in real time, notifications with offers in case of an abandoned cart, streamlined delivery options etc.
These features make your site more engaging and stickier and make it easier for clients to learn, search and finally buy products. Also, look for features like discount engine, faceted search, simplified taxes to make your end to end selling process faster and easier.
Not Able to Add Third-Parts Tools and Services
For your business to grow and adapt to the changing market dynamics you need a solution that is flexible and extensible. If your B2B ecommerce platform is rigid and does not adapt to changes you will find it difficult to add new elements to your site as per the requirements of your growing business.
Also, the platform should offer seamless integrations with a variety of third-party tools that make your processes easier and boost the efficiencies of your system. You should be able to add a variety of customer engagement channels like helpdesk, live chat, notifications, social media integrations, host of shipping and payment channels and any other API needed for the smooth functioning of your enterprise business.
If your B2B ecommerce platform takes up too much time or effort to integrate these or simply fails to integrate these, you will be stuck with a solution that does not change with the changing times. This will ultimately hamper your growth. So, look out for a solution that makes your business processes easy and seamless.
The modus operandi of a B2B environment is much different and usually, you appoint a person that works as the client’s point of contact between your clients and your brand. This person plays a great role in influencing their decisions as well as facilitating their purchase process. If you fail to offer this kind of support to your clients, you can annoy and lose them.
Since the final buying decision is made by a group of people at the client’s end there should be a dedicated person who keeps interacting with the team of your client and answers their queries.
If you do not have this support enabled through multiple channels on your B2B ecommerce platform, you might end up creating a communication gap which might cost you a potential order. So, choose a service provider that helps you stay connected with your customers through multiple communication channels like email, live chat, SMS and other similar tools
Business-to-business ecommerce is poised for a stupendous boom and it can take your venture to new markets and increase your revenue manifold. However, to be able to cater to the demands of your clients you need to offer them the most seamless and user-friendly buying experience. If you fail to provide the above-listed features, you might slowly lose out to your competition.
To avoid these pitfalls, run a thorough check and choose a B2B ecommerce platform that has inbuilt tools and features to not only create an awesome site but also offer a WOW buying experience to your enterprise clients.
Binny Joseph is an ecommerce marketing strategist with 5+ years of experience at StoreHippo. He writes extensively about the latest ecommerce trends and encourages people to take up the new ways to make their online business a better one. His articles regarding ecommerce platforms come from the rich experience of strategizing and handling online business across industry verticals.