Updated: Nov 16
It’s hard to ignore the exciting growth of B2B eCommerce in recent years. In 2021, the global B2B eCommerce market stood at $17.9 trillion, over 5 times that of the B2C market. And the market is still growing today.
Knowing this, it’s a good idea to get in on the action. But whether you’re launching a B2B webshop or optimizing an existing one, you’ll need a solid game plan reinforced with some strategic moves that push your business forward.
So, what are they? This article will break down our 7-point checklist for building a B2B eCommerce business that takes your company to new heights.
Table of contents
Building a B2B eCommerce business: The ulimate game plan
Make self-service easy
Create a personalized experience
Offer customized pricing and flexible payment options
Create a B2B eCommerce ecosystem with the right technology
Expand your customer communication channels
Fine-tune your product and marketing
Make optimizing your store with customer feedback a priority
What it takes to build a successful B2B eCommerce business
Building a B2B eCommerce business: The ultimate game plan
So you’re locked in and ready to build a B2B eCommerce store. Or perhaps you’ve got a webshop already that you’re looking to optimize, props to you! Now all you need is the know-how. We’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the steps to build a B2B eCommerce business that’s a money-making machine.
1. Make self-service easy
Have you ever wondered what the typical B2B buyers’ daily to-do list looks like?
From managing inventory for multiple SKUs and tracking purchase orders to communicating with suppliers worldwide, there are many high-stakes tasks to complete. And sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all.
So, to ensure your online store is a hit, it’s crucial you add self-service features that make it easy for B2B buyers to manage global operations on their schedule. This could look like creating:
A portal for order submissions accessible 24/7 instead of customers needing to call sales reps.
An online, templated purchase order management solution.
A shoppable catalog or product listings with in-depth descriptions and pricing for different quantities so shoppers understand what they’ll receive before they hit “buy”.
An admin dashboard where buyers can raise tickets for special requests, get quotes, place orders, and track shipments.
AI customer service chatbot to answer basic questions and complete simple admin tasks.
Order history, reordering features, and saved items list on the website.
A knowledge base and FAQ covering your terms, conditions, warranties, common issues, and procedures.
A responsive, intuitive website with personalization features (more on this later).
A software with integration and data importing capabilities.
2. Create a personalized experience
Traditionally, B2B commerce is a people’s game played one-on-one and companies win business through in-person meetings, sealed with a handshake. However, as B2B eCommerce sales become more popular, it’s easy to lose this personal touch and the business-boosting perks that come with it, like higher average order value (AOV) and stronger customer relationships. But not all is lost. There’s a solution—personalization.
45% of shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase from an eCommerce store that offers personalized recommendations. Also, 73% of people expect businesses to understand their unique needs and expectations.
So, how do you offer a personalized experience? There are a few ways, for example:
Data segmentations: Split your customer’s according to their site and buying behavior
Customized product recommendations: Send specific catalogs and product bundles, and create timely offers and promotions
Relevant contents: Show role- or industry-specific articles, testimonials
3. Offer customized pricing and flexible payment options
Pricing is a critical factor in the B2B buying journey, in fact, cost is so influential it can be the difference between a buyer closing a sale or walking away empty-handed. So come prepared.
Set terms on who qualifies for specific pricing and discounts and when (preferably before your store launches). Don’t forget to outline shipping and tax estimates clearly so buyers can gauge how these will impact inventory costs. For example, you could set sliding scale discounts based on quantity ordered or customer loyalty.
Also, examine payment trends in B2B eCommerce along with your competitors’ payment stack to understand which solutions to onboard. Note that 95% of B2B buyers want to pay by invoice with net terms, and this is solved by implementing a B2B Buy Now Pay Later (B2B BNPL) solution. So, for best results, ensure a tailor-made B2B BNPL solution is part of the mix to offer more flexibility to customers while improving your AOV and conversions.
Top tip: Check out Sprinque to see what they can do to optimize your B2B payment journey
4. Create a B2B eCommerce ecosystem with the right technology
Want to build a B2B eCommerce business that stands the test of time? Pick eCommerce solutions that’ll make managing and scaling operations easy. As a baseline, onboard solutions that:
Handle tasks specific to B2B commerce. For instance, if you sell bulk stock with various quantities and pricing, you’ll need a B2B eCommerce solution that can display tiered pricing options to buyers. Other times customers may order over the phone and have a rep process it for them online. Your B2B eCommerce platform should be able to cover this scenario too. Outline your typical sales journeys and find a solution to serve them.
Eliminate manual processes. Tracking orders with email chains and Excel spreadsheets makes errors more likely. Look for a solution that automates things like inventory management and updating shipment tracking information. If there’s an existing ERP or accounting system, it’s also important to find a solution that can link to all operational systems seamlessly.
Empower team members. Running a B2B eCommerce business is a team sport. To ensure your team works efficiently and productively, use a solution that provides or integrates with tools each team member needs to execute their role. Ensure you can:
Create admin roles. E.g., The Purchase Manager would typically have full access to the system, plus the authority to access and block access.
Set user-based permissions. For example, allowing junior buyers to see limited information like quotes, SKUs, and prices, plus the ability to request payment but not execute transactions.
Extra points if you can find a solution that covers all three bases and unifies your tech stack on one easy-to-use platform.
5. Expand your customer communication channels
If your B2B commerce is offline, you may be used to communicating with B2B buyers on more traditional channels like phone and email. But as you implement a B2B eCommerce arm to your business, it's important to offer newer methods for buyers to reach you that complement your online setup. Here are some communication channels to try:
Social media messaging
You should also revisit how you communicate with your audience to drive more engagement and customer satisfaction. To put this in perspective, let’s say you handle customer queries via phone. Why not switch things up by creating a thread on social media covering your most frequently asked questions and recurring issues? Then encourage buyers to post queries on your social media for a quick response that they and other customers can refer back to.
6. Fine-tune your product(s) and marketing
When you start selling online, the world opens up. However, with this opportunity can come stiff competition. To stand out and win sales, you need to serve the market with a better offer than what’s already out there. Having a superior offer will help you gain brand advocates that’ll bring in more customers and provide social proof.
Presenting an above-average product can take many forms, like using better materials in your products or putting an interesting spin on how you present your offers, or launching new items. So, research which avenue will provide your company with the most bang for its buck.
Now on to your marketing. B2B commerce has developed a reputation for being archaic in its marketing approach due to the focus on offline methods like trade shows, industry journal ads, and cold outreach. So, as you launch or relaunch your B2B eCommerce store, go against the grain.
Experiment with online marketing efforts that’ll support your B2B eCommerce store’s buying journey. For instance, you could work with influencers like authorities in your space on LinkedIn and Twitter. You could also trial pay-per-click advertising on social media, search engines, and eCommerce platforms.
7. Make optimizing your store with customer feedback a priority
Making incremental improvements to your B2B eCommerce business will be an essential part of your online selling journey. And where better to get your pointers than from your customers? When done correctly, your efforts won’t be in vain, as 77% of consumers view brands more favorably when they collect and apply customer feedback. As you analyze customer feedback, it’s important to combine this with an agile approach to running your store. Stop, assess, and tweak your strategy based on your store’s data and most recurrent customer suggestions.
Here are some ways you can gather customer sentiments and use them to improve your business:
Social media listening
Webshop analytics and marketing analytics
Surveys (incentivized for more completion)
Collect honest and impartial reviews
Dedicated email address for feedback
What it takes to build a successful B2B eCommerce Business
B2B eCommerce presents an enormous opportunity for ambitious B2B commerce companies to expand their customer base, sales, and territories. But success comes at a price. You’ll need to have the right tools, strategies, and mindset to craft a winning B2B eCommerce store.
So, get into the mind of your customer. Understand their struggles, wants, and needs. Then set out to solve them in your store’s setup and offerings. As you progress on your B2B eCommerce journey, pay attention to B2B eCommerce trends and customer opinions and be ready to pivot to keep your business going strong.
There’s no time like the present, so take the steps towards your B2B eCommerce dream today, like researching B2B eCommerce platforms, or finding an agency partner. Good luck!
Curious about how Sprinque can help you build a successful B2B e-commerce business? Book a meeting with us today.