B2B Tips for Expanding into eCommerce
Branching into the world of B2B eCommerce
Business-to-business companies are increasingly joining the eCommerce community online. While some B2B businesses may feel that they don’t need to or shouldn’t branch out online, they may need to think again. According to a study done by Forrester in 2013, B2B companies that hold out on employing eCommerce are taking a huge risk. These companies could quickly become obsolete seeing as how the study also found that 69 percent of the B2B companies they surveyed said that they anticipate that they will quit producing print catalogs in the next five years. Don’t let your B2B business become outdated. Here are five steps to help your B2B company expand into the B2B eCommerce world.
1) Proving a Need
When choosing whether or not to take your B2B business online, you first need to prove a need for it. Will it be easier for your customers to buy from you online? Is your product or service not already being sold online by another B2B company? Can you provide a lower price or better customer service than the other options provided online? If your business can answer yes to any of these questions, then you are able to prove that there is a need for your products or services to be offered online through an eCommerce website. The emerging prominence of eCommerce in B2B, however, may prove this need for you on its own.
2) Setting Requirements
After you have proven a need for your B2B business to branch into eCommerce, you must begin to plan for your online store. You will need to decide what your business needs to do in order to operate online. Will you need to offer varied pricing for different customers? Are there special procedures and processes that need to take place when a customer is ordering and purchasing from you? Will you allow for different kinds of payments and payment terms? All of these questions, plus various others, need to be asked and answered when setting your requirements for your eCommerce store. Be extremely thorough here, because the success of subsequent steps depend on making sure your specific needs are met.
3) Selecting a Platform
Next, your B2B company needs to select an eCommerce platform to use for your B2B eCommerce store. When choosing a platform, it is important to look at one that is engineered for B2B businesses and is flexible enough to be customized for your business’s specific needs. You must select a platform that can handle all or your requirements that you envisioned in step two. If you can't find a platform that does so, consider seeking a customized eCommerce platform. The solution you adopt needs to allow your business to make all of the modifications and integrations necessary to help your eCommerce website run smoothly and efficiently.
The next step is perhaps the most exciting step of achieving B2B eCommerce: launching your eCommerce website. It is wise to hire a web development company or have members of your staff that have been dedicated to creating your eCommerce site and customizing and integrating the eCommerce platform that you selected for your site. The developers will have set up your eCommerce website, tested it for usability, and maybe even done a soft launch of your site before it is launched to the general public. Be sure to contact your previous, current and potential customers letting them know the day that your eCommerce site will launch as well as all the information they need to know about it. Update all of your company information and collateral to include your new eCommerce website’s address. Consider having your marketing and sales teams offer incentives for visiting the eCommerce site, and plan an event, online or in person, to celebrate your eCommerce site’s launch.
Every reputable B2B eCommerce site has good customer support as well as good support for their eCommerce site itself. If you have a web development company design your eCommerce site, make sure that they will be available to you if and when issues arise. If you choose you have staff from your company develop the website or hire someone on to handle the eCommerce site after the fact, make sure that they are well versed and understand the inner workings of your eCommerce site. Nothing is worse than losing a sale because your eCommerce site isn’t working right or has gone down.
Clarity Can Help
At Clarity, we understand the importance of expanding into eCommerce for B2B. With decades of combined experience helping B2B companies create their eCommerce websites, Clarity is no stranger to the needs of B2B businesses. Our Clarity eCommerce platform was built to handle the requirements of B2B eCommerce while being flexible enough to be customizable for each individual business that we have worked with. To find out more about how Clarity can help your B2B company achieve eCommerce, call or click to contact us today!