20 Ways to Grow Your B2B eCommerce Sales
B2B eCommerce sales are projected to top 1 trillion dollars in the US in the coming years. They already surpassed 800 billion in 2016 and should hit almost 900 billion this year alone! These are staggering numbers and far outweigh the B2C numbers more people are aware of. With such huge numbers, why is it that there is so much focus on B2C eCommerce? Perhaps it’s simply that B2B eCommerce is much more complicated and often behind the scenes.
Having worked with many B2B eCommerce companies over the past five years, we feel these 20 things can potentially help move the needle for your company. Not all of them may be ideal for your specific business use case but should be investigated and evaluated as a potential solution to grow sales.
1) Matrix Ordering:
Matrix Ordering is something many B2B customers are used to since most catalogs have been structured in a similar format. Matrix ordering essentially brings the benefit of catalog simplicity to online. In today’s modern world, it is not too difficult to implement Matrix ordering via some sort of extension like this one for Magento 2. You can do Matrix ordering via multiple attributes or you could also do it via size and quantity discounts. There are many ways to make it work and make it easier for your customers to order large quantities of multiple SKU’s which is typically the best way to increase B2B eCommerce sales.
2) Volume Order Discounts
Volume order discounts are critical for attracting larger purchases. Many business to business companies will offer major discounts to larger customers, however, you can even go a step further by offering volume order discounts on top of that or simply offer them to retail customers or customers with smaller discounts.
One of the best examples of this is a site 4imprint.com in the promotional products industry. They have a cool sliding scale that offers discounts as you order more:
Maybe you need to order new paper towels or other basic things for your office every month, or ever two weeks? Whatever your needs are, it’s very possible you may need some sort of subscription service to fulfill them, rather than reordering manually all the time. Subscription is a great way to grow your B2B eCommerce sales, and there is really no excuse because subscriptions are available in the marketplace of almost every major platform like Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, and more.
4) Consumer like user experience
Although businesses may have slightly more complex purchasing requirements like purchase orders, at the end of the day they want to purchase through a user-friendly and easy to navigate interface. Consumerization of B2B eCommerce is nothing new and has been talked about for a while now. It’s time to take it seriously and build a rock solid user experience that rivals the high- quality designs of major business to consumer eCommerce sites.
Look at top sites like Grainger and Quill.com that are doing a good job of this.
5) Clear Corporate and B2B Discounting
Offering personalized corporate and B2B discounts is going to make people buy through your site rather than via another site in which they can’t get such pricing. Making sure the price discounts are clear and competitive could entice them to buy more. It’s also possible showing them that if they hit new buying tiers like buying over $100,000 in product a year they can get even more discounts, leading them to buy more and more.
6) Freight Shipping & Shipping Options
Offering freight shipping online is a way to make people purchase all the way through versus having to worry about shipping after the purchase or simply not buying at all because they don’t like the shipping price. B2B orders are usually larger and may require freight, thus optimizing the shipping options via Freight and multiple options so they can choose the right speed and cost for their situation will increase sales.
There are many platforms like ShipperHQ that can help you do this. Builddirect.com is a great example of a company that does a good job offering shipping for a complicated and difficult large order.
Integrations are critical for a successful B2B eCommerce store. In most cases, you need to integrate with your ERP system, a CRM, a PIM system, Payment, Shipping, and potentially much much more. Many of these integrations like payment and shipping can be done through default platform functionality via a system like Magento or an extension to the platform. However, for more niche systems, you may need to build a custom integration. This is where you will need to find good developers who have experience with integrations and can handle these more complex requirements.
If your systems are not integrated, you will have a tough time scaling your B2B eCommerce operations and growing sales. Make sure you have a plan to integrate all of your systems, even if it’s not all on launch day, it should be part of the long-term plan. At the very least you should have your Inventory systems, Order Management Systems, and Financial Systems synced so that you can automate the order and financial workflow of eCommerce into your normal accounting process and fulfillment process.
8) Incredible Search
B2B users often know what they want, therefore they don’t want to spend a bunch of time clicking around to find the product. Search is the best way to provide the quickest path to buyers who know what they want.
What’s better than having a site in which customers go on, search for what they want, and buy. All you have to do is ship product and fulfill. This should be every B2B companies dream and something they invest heavily in.
Search no longer has to be custom built. There are now many major solutions that are fairly cost effective to implement like Elastic Search, Klevu Search, Celebros, and much more. I highly suggest leveraging a solution like this that can offer incredible search power without a huge cost.
9) Connected Corporate Accounts
This feature can be crucial. Let’s say you sell to CVS and they are one of your largest B2B customers. Each CVS store may have different needs and purchasing request. You can’t treat each CVS user and store as a different customer, they are all part of the same corporate account.
Therefore you should have some sort of structure like Corporate => Store / Franchise level => Individual users. This can be done with new platforms like Magento Commerce 2.2 and other extensions and apps for most major platforms.
10) Purchasing Approval Workflows
In business organizations, it’s not always ok to just buy whatever you want, in fact in almost all cases it is not. You might need to get a purchase order, have higher management teams reviews your orders, and many other things that can slow down purchasing. Having some sort of approval workflow that is flexible for most if not all customer needs might allow you to sell to more complex organizations that require some sort of workflow.
11) Requisition Lists
Requisition lists are valuable for larger customers who may want to build a list to purchase in the future. Having the ability to create requisitions lists ahead of time and have your manager or superiors approve them could lead to many more B2B sales. Magento 2.2 Commerce edition just launched the requisition list feature.
12) Pay Via Purchase Order
This is a simple feature to implement in which customers can simply input their purchase order number and buy. Amazon business recently implemented this and major platforms like Magento, and other eCommerce platforms have this feature. Most larger companies require purchase orders for larger purchases thus a purchase order functionality for buying is necessary to gain larger business.
13) High-Quality Product Information
This might seem obvious, but it amazes me how many B2B companies struggle with this. This should be the foundation of your site, no one wants to buy a product that has little to no information. An image, short description, and the price are not enough. Most companies have in-depth technical data sheets. Those should all be translated to attributes and live web content that is crawlable via Google. There is no excuse in today’s world to not have good product information.
You can also leverage PIM systems like Sales Layer and Salsify to better organize your data and integrate it into Magento, Shopify, Demandware, etc.
14) Credit Limits
Offering pay via credit and having clear credit limits as to what they have available to pay is a great way to get more sales. Most B2B customers like this option and it gives them purchasing flexibility. Offering credit limits and pay via credit is a great way to incentivize them to buy more. You can also offer ways for them to pay down their credit in their account pages so they could literally order everything they want, at the prices they are designated, and pay down their credit limit as they need to.
15) Easy Reordering
Reordering product should be easy and require very few clicks. Ideally, you would just login into your account and be able to view past orders easily and with one or two clicks reorder such products. Many B2B companies may reorder the same products over and over which is why subscriptions are helpful but sometimes they want to manually do this if it’s not always on an interval schedule.
16) Search By Part Number
You may have incredibly search powered by machine learning, but sometimes B2B customers just want to simply search by part number. If they know what they want they may want to easily get to it to be able to order more quickly and search by part number serves that simple purpose.
17) Quoting Capabilities
Not everyone wants to buy on the spot. They may want to get a quote on a larger order and compare to other vendors. Having the ability to add to Quote like an add to cart feature is incredibly useful. Cart 2 Quote offers this functionality for Magento, and I am sure there are other solutions like this for other popular platforms.
18) Great Account Pages Functionality
Having really good account pages is critical to ensuring B2B customers are happy with their service. The account pages serve many purposes. The ability to view pending orders so that you know if they have been shipped, reordering easily, adding new users to your account, returning products, and many other account page functions are critical to B2B eCommerce success. The account pages are often looked and should be heavily invested in as you grow your eCommerce business.
19) Transactional Email Templates
Having clear and useful transactional email templates that go out when an order is placed, shipped, and other information that might help the customer feel more comfortable with their order can go a long way. Most eCommerce platforms will have these set-up by default but customizing them and personalizing can go a long way in making your brand stand out.
Don’t settle for the status quo and stick to the default templates, invest in making them better for your customers.
20) Product Configurator / Product Wizard Functionality
You may sell something more complicated than your run of the bell B2B widget. If you sell something more complicated you may need something a little more robust to help guide your customers to the right product purchase or set of products. With today’s modern eCommerce platforms its easier than ever to create some sort of product wizard in which the customer can choose their options and completely configure their product. This may include personalizing or customizing the product which can get more tricky but still is very doable in today’s world.