The pandemic changed how people interact with businesses and has given an additional surge to the already growing B2B eCommerce industry.
“ According to a survey, a majority of B2B buyers in the United States researched at least two B2B websites prior to completing any purchase, highlighting the ever-increasing importance of online visibility for businesses. ” (Source: Statista).
As more and more B2B businesses are finding their niche on digital platforms, the competition is getting fierce. B2B eCommerce comes with its own set of challenges, this guide talks about these challenges and the ways to overcome them in detail.
1. Bulk Deal Pricing
The pricing structure for B2B eCommerce companies is generally based on the volume of the products and handling bulk pricing becomes quite a hurdle for the processing systems. Furthermore, different customers would have different pricing for the same bulk of products and managing everything at once can get overwhelming.
To tackle the pricing challenge, B2B businesses can use platforms offering quote management that allows volume discounts when companies order a specified amount of a product. Implementing pricing strategies can go a long way in improving the customer experience, and increase your sales volume in the long-run.
Here are some of the strategies that can be implemented to overcome any pricing related B2B eCommerce challenges:
- Offer a Free Product and Add Shipping Charges
It is a win-win strategy for both the customers and the business.
A good example of this pricing strategy is Grant Cardone, that caters to both B2C and B2B audiences.
The above image refers to a booklet that they are selling for free but charging for shipping. This way, the company can establish a stronger customer base while introducing them to new courses.
Here is another example from Leather Quartz Analog Watches selling a watch for free but asking for shipping charges- a good way to upsell on shipping.
- Product Bundling
Product Bundling groups several related products into a single commodity that you list across channels for a comparatively lower price than the combined cost of each product. This is a common product-based pricing strategy which works well both in the B2C and B2B industry.
You should always opt for a mixed bundling strategy. This allows customers to either purchase the products in a bundle or as individual products. This method has proven to be a more effective strategy and can increase sales by over 20%.
Here is an example of bundle pricing on Amazon. This Nikon camera is bundled with 22 other “accessory” items like memory cards, lenses, camera straps, flash devices, etc. by the seller and sold at a comprehensive price. The items included in this bundle are all useful to a person who enjoys photography and is more likely to get sold. It’s a win-win for both seller and buyer.
Another B2B bundling example is AT&T grouping their internet package with voice or TV.
- Dynamic Pricing
This concept means businesses change their pricing based on the quantity sold. For instance, medical supplies that have a limited shelf price could be sold at lesser prices and in bulk when their expiry dates are approaching.
It’s fairly very common to see the implementation of dynamic pricing when market conditions experience a surge or a downfall.
In B2B eCommerce, you can increase the price of high demand products when you have low stock availability. This creates a sense of urgency and influences customers to make an immediate purchase.
At EasyEcom, we offer both product bundling and dynamic pricing on our B2B eCommerce marketing portal. Offering different pricing strategies is a common practice at EasyEcom to enable sellers with multiple options to suit their business needs and ensure end-customer satisfaction.
- Predatory Pricing
It is a common strategy applied to undercut your competitors by providing products at a lower cost than their actual value.
A good example of this is Amazon sellers lowering down their price to beat competition and winning the Amazon Buy-Box.
If you are interested, here’s how you can win an Amazon Buy-Box
- Channel-based pricing
As the name suggests, this means offering different prices across sales channels. This helps in maintaining your ROI and encourages customers to buy more from your digital store.
For example, Asana’s partnership program offers partners and customers special discounts if they sign up from a referral program.
2. Customizable Shopping Cart and User-Friendly Website
In eCommerce, whether it is B2B or B2C, it is imperative to have a user-friendly shopping cart that enables customers to easily locate products, and compare prices and features with other products.
If a B2B eCommerce company offers a wide range of product lines and/or of different brands, it becomes even more important to have a customizable shopping cart. A customizable shopping cart must have a customized design along with a feature set. These elements could be product images, description, reviews, CTA, etc.
The modern buyers do their research before putting their faith and money in your business and you don’t want them to find any loopholes.
The B2B companies who have recently started out on the digital platforms should take care of the basic things that are expected out of an online store.
On a primary level, your B2B online store should offer the following features:
- In-bulk product ordering: Your store should provide users with a convenient easy-to-use interface for ordering products in bulk, or else the customer would spend hours just filling the cart. This certainly will hamper customer experience, and, in turn, your future sales.
The above image belongs to Mountain Crest Gardens, a fast growing online succulent seller catering to wholesale buyers. Although, they do not have a dedicated wholesale landing page but they have an entire section of site dedicated to wholesale where they allow buyers to place orders in bulk.
- Easy Re-ordering: Many B2B companies have a clientele that buys from them on a regular basis. Hence, an ideal B2B store should enable reordering of items in just one-click.
- Shut storefront on unauthorized users: Only genuine customers should have access to the storefront.
- Allow multiple users to access one account: This ensures multiple B2B stakeholders in purchase decision have easy access to data
- Hybrid eCommerce: This is important if you are catering to both B2B and B2C audience. Cochez and Office Depot, for example, allow clients to enter with the same log-in as regular and commercial clients.
- Enhanced Search capabilities: Advanced search capabilities along with a multi-store eCommerce platform help tackle the challenge of managing multiple product lines and different brands. It also allows you to sell their product or service globally since the software can be customized for different currencies and multiple languages.
- Payment Methods: Always set up flexible payment methods to ensure that buyers can place large volume orders and pay as per their convenience and platform of choice. Providing flexible payment methods makes your B2B eCommerce company more competitive in the market.
- Product Display: Product display in high-quality pushes customers to make a faster purchase decision.
Take into account the following criteria for an effective product display:
- Upload top-notch product images- Use a light background in your images and if possible, provide a 360-degree view of the product to display the product from all angles. The more authentic the image, the better are the chances of the product getting sold.
- Product description: Write an accurate and complete product description. The buyers should not be looking for assistance regarding the features. This only increases the purchase time and makes them indecisive.
- Easy Return Policy: Your return and refund policy should be clearly visible and the entire process must be hassle-free. This strengthens the buyer’s confidence in your brand.
- Customer Reviews: Always keep a section for product reviews. This will help you get insights into whether or not a product is working out for your customers.
Here is an example of a good product landing page from Kap Seven.
3. Shipping and Fulfillment
For any eCommerce business, timely delivery is a fundamental expectation. While it’s relatively easier to handle shipping for B2C businesses, the very nature of B2B products makes it slightly difficult to tackle shipping-related issues. Delayed delivery can lead to order cancellation and not to mention, it gives your brand a bad reputation.
One of the best ways to tackle shipment issues is to integrate shipment software like Shippigo, Sellbrite, etc. into your website or the platform you are currently using as your marketplace. This streamlines order processing and also ensures that buyers are receiving the right product in the right quantity and that the delivery information is accurate.
Here’s what you can do with a shipping software:
- Track your previous and upcoming orders.
- Keep track of the orders in transit to stay well-informed while answering client queries.
- A shipping software also helps in offering customized buying experiences based on their shopping locales of the buyers.
Order fulfillment involves multiple people, processes, and technologies. Moreover, there are online checkout processes, payment providers, order management, picking and packing, shipping, and delivery. Between the order being placed to the final delivery, there can be a lot of things that can go wrong if the fulfillment is not done with precision. However, the logistics ecosystem that we have today can offer multiple solutions to optimize delivery processes for eCommerce businesses.
For the B2B companies previously operating offline, fulfillment can be a major pain point and without proper knowledge of what can be done about it, they are bound to be doomed.
To handle the B2B eCommerce challenges pertaining to fulfillment, you can either own multiple warehouses and make sure that all your current and potential customers are within reach or engage third-parties to reach your customers for you. If you don’t want to spend your resources on warehouse management, you can always look for 3PLs and 4PLs to help you with order fulfillment. These companies manage the entire distribution, storage, transport, and fulfillment process for a lot of businesses at once and are well-versed with the rules and guidelines that come along with the entire process of fulfillment.
In a previous article, we have discussed in detail how to ship your products to keep your customers satisfied. You can check it out here.
4. Product Diversity and Customization
Managing different kinds and categories of products under one website is one of the biggest challenges for B2B eCommerce companies. When you are selling mixed products under one parent company, the mixup chances are very high. If the categories of products have manageable product diversification, you don’t need to look for any other options. Otherwise, you should consider microsites within the main website for different departments.
With microsites for different product categories, you can effectively control different sections of your product catalog and separately resolve the issues and client queries that come with it.
Microsites also help in order management, transactions, shipments and running multiple subsites enables you to quickly identify any errors and rectify them immediately. You can also have dedicated support teams for different sites and manage all your products smoothly.
One of the best examples of a B2B business using microsites is Adobe. The company is currently handling an entire suite of several different products currently and it is impossible to handle them all using the same website. The company handles multiple sites for different products and has deployed dedicated teams for the same.
Speaking of diversification, product customization can also be a major pain point for B2B eCommerce companies if not handled with precision. The client base of a B2B company seeks customization to a certain level.
While customization can be difficult for B2B companies operating digitally, there are several tools and software available that help with configuration, customization of the products and also help provide a real-time view to the buyers.
5. Maintaining Client Relationships
Managing client relationships is a crucial aspect of B2B eCommerce companies. While offering customer-specific pricing is a major part of strengthening your relations with your clients, there is still a lot to it.
Every client has their own set of requirements, and their expectations from your company might also vary. If you are not considerate of their expectations, the client might take their business to someone else. This holds true for both existing clients and prospects. You have to take into account all the strategies to cater to all kinds of clients and website visitors.
To keep situations under control, you need to work on your client relationship management strategy and delegate the tasks to your team.
- For the inactive accounts, have a follow-up strategy in place and conduct regular checks to identify what’s working for your clients.
- Assign different accounts to different team members and check on the status regularly.
To take care of the prospects, you should consider integrating a CRM like Zoho, HubSpot, Salesforce, etc. to your B2B eCommerce store essentially streamlines client interactions and everything is recorded so you can always go back and check what requires your attention.
Volvo Construction Equipment presents a great example of integrating a cross-channel marketing strategy to boost sales using CRM. The company’s biggest challenge is to nurture its leads to conversion. Their team keeps track of every interaction on social media, website, and other platforms. With all their cross-channel campaigns combined with CRM software allowing access to important users’ information, Volvo CE made $100 million in annual sales in 2018 alone.
When you overcome these challenges, you can start working on your marketing strategies to stay ahead of the competition. In our previous article, we discussed all the essential B2B eCommerce marketing strategies that you need to check out. Also, check out the top B2B features that we offer, here.
If you are looking for an omnichannel inventory management solution with integrated B2B order management for your eCommerce business, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly sign up for a demo here.