When most people think of e-commerce, they tend to focus on the B2C market — and with good reason. In just the U.S. alone, consumers spend more than $600 billion every year, shopping online.
Yet there’s an even larger slice of the e-commerce pie — one that many businesses overlook.
According to market research company Forrester, the U.S. B2B market generates $1.1 trillion in annual sales. Although e-commerce only represents 12 percent of total transactional volume for B2B businesses, not bringing more of your products and services online is a huge mistake.
This is especially true given that spending is only set to increase, with B2B e-commerce sales expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023.
Why Don’t More B2B Businesses Sell Online?
We tend to think of corporate decision makers as logical, analytical actors who only make purchases based on sound reasoning. This is partially why some businesses are reluctant to move more of their offerings online.
Whether you’re selling to companies or consumers, there’s always a living, breathing person behind every purchasing decision:
- These individuals are driven by the same emotions, needs and wants as everyone else
- They crave the ease, speed and convenience that online shopping offers
The only difference is that corporate buyers have much larger budgets — which is why B2B spending is nearly double what consumers spend.
Understanding the Benefits of B2B E-Commerce
The most obvious advantage of moving online is that you’re able to generate more sales. In addition to your physical storefront, you now have a virtual one that can continue generating new sales — even after normal business hours.
In addition, digital stores cost a fraction of what it takes to maintain a physical one. That’s because you don’t have to worry about:
- Large staffs
All you need is a functional website that can display inventory and process payments. Maintaining this only requires one person.
How Do You Find B2B Customers for Your Store?
Big-ticket items naturally lend themselves to extensive online research. Simply by launching an e-commerce store, you’ll already be positioned where corporate buyers tend to congregate anyway.
However, you can further enhance your chances of success by adopting a few best practices gleaned from the world of B2C e-commerce.
1. Make Buying Easy
It’s important that you have a fast, mobile-ready website with intuitive navigation. By taking a few cues from Amazon, you can reduce friction by offering:
- One-click buying
- Free shipping
- Expedited delivery
2. Offer More Payment Options
Most consumers use Level I credit cards when shopping online, but corporate buyers typically need more payment options — especially those with enhanced security. Consider offering Levels 2 and 3 credit card processing.
It may also make sense to explore alternative payment options such as ACH, PayPal and even cryptocurrencies.
E-Commerce As an Extension — Not a Replacement
E-commerce isn’t a replacement for your existing storefront. Rather, it helps establish another avenue through which to sell products and services that you already sell.
In a world where many businesses haven’t moved more of their operations online yet, your e-commerce store can act as a powerful differentiator.
However, that competitive advantage won’t last indefinitely. With trillions of dollars up for grabs, all businesses will eventually have an online presence. Long-term success will favor those who start sooner — rather than later.
Want to learn more about B2B e-commerce? Contact an expert at CDI Technology.