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For the multi-channel business, B2B ecommerce can often be the black sheep of the family. Tucked away behind a ‘supplier login’ button, the online element of the B2B offering frequently receives a fraction of the attention paid to the online B2C experience.

Businesses who sell directly to customers and supply resellers, as well as potentially manufacture their own products, have a lot on their plate. Rightly, there has often been a significant amount of focus dedicated to online B2C over the last 20 or so years. 

But how much opportunity has been missed on the B2B side? Given how B2C ecommerce has changed consumer behaviour (and increased revenues), what changes could come about within businesses who dedicate more time to the online B2B ecommerce experience?

Charting online customer journeys

When you developed your online B2C solution a lot of work probably went into thinking about what the customer wants.

Where would they start on their journey? How would you get them to their desired purchase point? How can you sell more high margin items? How can you make the online experience work for the customer and generate more revenue for your business?

But often, in a multi-channel business, we find none of these questions have been asked about the online B2B experience.

B2B may even make up a higher percentage of revenue than B2C and yet there’s little thought gone into what the B2B buyer needs..

And the two journeys are very different, needing different online experiences to facilitate successful purchases.

A B2C online buyer pays for their goods before they receive them and pays the same price as everyone else who visits your ecommerce site.

A B2B online buyer almost never pays upfront and depending on their relationship with you may have different pricing to other B2B buyers, based on a huge range of factors.

When new B2C clients sign up to use your ecommerce site they simply register for an ecommerce account. A new B2B buyer will require an account to invoice to and a credit check to ensure their viability.

Rarely do we see the online B2B experience in multi-channel businesses cater for these and many other fundamental differences.

B2B eCommerce in multi-channel: the under-invested in ‘secret’ to unlocking growth?

The days before you implemented your B2C ecommerce solution probably don’t bear thinking about. Mail and telephone orders from individual customers. A huge amount of paperwork and manual process.

The odds are that your B2C eCommerce solution has made those days and that paperwork things of the past.

But for many multi-channel businesses the same change still needs to happen in their B2B eCommerce solution.

B2B in these businesses has likely suffered, from what we have seen, from a lack of investment and a lack of available, viable options. 

Readily available B2C solutions, such as Shopify, do offer B2B functionality, but at a high price point. The cost of this sort of solution, coupled with the fact that some functionality is an adapted version of tools intended for the B2C market, can lead to frustration and further delayed investment.

And yet, successful B2B eCommerce projects in a multi-channel environment are perfectly possible, with the right solution and a good understanding of the requirements.

Deployed successfully, businesses can control offers and promotions to their B2B client base, offering an ordering system reminiscent of B2C, but with all of the controls and options needed in the B2B environment.

Through engagement and outreach - the sort of contact B2B buyers are used to - high levels of adoption of the eCommerce offering can be achieved, with rising digital basket values and large amounts of BI to tailor the offering in the future.

In short: all of the advantages of creating a B2C eCommerce platform.

For multi-channel businesses with B2B components, now is as good a time as any to address the online experience and open up a new path to growth in 2021 and beyond.

If you'd like to find out how b2b.store could work for your multi-channel business, please get in touch with the team.