Four approaches for driving B2B commerce ROI

By Sarah MacDonald

B2B companies aren’t always set-up to trade online. However, the B2B ecommerce market is following in the footsteps of its B2C counterpart and growing exponentially. More and more wholesalers are opening web stores, looking to innovate their sales strategy and streamline old-fashioned processes by automating ordering functions. But simply, they’re striving to match the efforts of their competitors’ digital commerce offering and in turn please their customers.

Implementing an ecommerce strategy can be a delicate process and requires an investment of time, capital and manpower. During this process, return on investment should be top of mind. Identifying ROI in both the short and long term can help the business’s goals and, ultimately, ensure any investments are worthwhile.

Here, we outline four approaches that can help catapult B2B brands on the path to success. You can read more when you download the full report here.

New friends, news sales

Nine out of ten B2B buyers start their research online. Therefore, creating new, mobile-friendly content is key. Publishing best practice tips, product specifications and customer reviews can enrich the browsing experience and put the brand on new customers’ radars.

Simplifying the buying journey is also a great way to capture the attention of new buyers: a fast and convenient buying process can help retailers stand out from the competition. This can be achieved by implementing personalisation features such as fast reordering based on past orders or presets.

One of the advantages of digital commerce is its ability to go beyond geographical boundaries. Trading online can help B2Bs expand into new markets by reaching customers in places where they don’t have a sales team. In order to do so, retailers should aim to support cross-border commerce by featuring localised content and enabling the relevant payment methods and shipping options that are popular in that region.


Old friends, more sales

Retaining customers is just as important as acquiring new ones.

Vendors should leverage their websites to give customers full visibility of their product line and prevent them from falling into a rut of buying the same “favourite” products. Optimal online merchandising, advanced search capabilities and automated “also-bought” promotions can help make customers aware of products they hadn’t considered.

Retailers should also get clever with the data they possess on their returning clients and utilise it to deliver a better shopping experience. A huge 80% of B2B companies say that buyer expectations are higher because of what they experience as consumers. Smart, personalised product recommendations, based on browsing and shopping behaviour and enabled by artificial intelligence, can play an important role in perfecting customer interactions and increasing transaction value.

Another tactic B2Bs can steal from direct-to-consumer retail is the omnichannel approach. Retailers today aim to delight their customers across store, desktop and mobile, so B2B buyers will expect nothing less. Customers who can buy when and where they want are likely to spend more: that’s why B2B sellers should strive to provide an impeccable experience across all their sales channels.

An excellent example of a B2B retailer which worked to refine the purchasing experience for its existing customers is Selco, a UK-based supplier of building equipment. Read more about their story by downloading the full report.


High and low

Many B2Bs who are embracing ecommerce are doing so in the hope of increasing their profit margins and cutting down costs. Selling online can help achieve this in many ways.

When customers buy online, it typically costs the business less. A strong ecommerce site can reduce operational costs by encouraging customers to take advantage of self-service sales. Many B2B customers like to shop independently via a vendor’s website – placing orders, tracking shipments, obtaining credit and running reports. Ultimately, self-service options are easier for customers and more cost-effective for the business.

eCommerce can also help increase revenue by experimenting with new business models. Selling to consumers can sometimes be more profitable than working with distributors. B2B sellers could therefore benefit from an online solution which also supports B2C.

Finally, implementing technological solutions can reduce costs by automating manual workflows. Routine processes like credit applications and new customer registration often involve a lot of manual work, such as sending emails or time spent on the phone. They can be a time-consuming hassle for both vendors and customers. Retailers should look to automate these processes to save significant time and reduce human error.


Increased efficiency

Self-service purchasing options not only save the business money, but are also a great way to increase accuracy. Data input errors can happen when sales representatives take orders in person and on the phone. When customers input their own orders, fewer errors occur, so self-service purchase options can help reduce costly mistakes.

Moreover, website technology like intelligent fulfilment systems can help identify the quickest and most cost-effective way to source each order. Enabling configuration of business rules for the “best” fulfilment choice, based on whether faster delivery speed, lower costs or increased margins are being prioritised can yield strong results.

Lastly, a web store can empower B2Bs to constantly improve by providing “one stop” business intelligence. Consolidating data from multiple business systems can be a major challenge: business intelligence tools should be able to pull together data from multiple sources and quickly generate a range of reports, thereby saving time and manpower, and providing insights that drive business growth.

Want to learn more?

Investing in ecommerce can be a big step for a B2B retailer – from choosing and purchasing the right platform, to devising an online sales strategy and training a team. However, if businesses focus on establishing their key objectives and implementing the correct solution to achieve them, they are set to benefit greatly from this investment.

Sarah MacDonald, Northern EMEA Marketing, Magento, an Adobe solution


Magento, an Adobe company, is a leading provider of cloud commerce innovation to merchants and brands across B2C and B2B industries and was recently named a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. In addition to its flagship digital commerce platform, Magento boasts a strong portfolio of cloudbased omnichannel solutions that empower merchants to successfully integrate digital and physical shopping experiences. Magento is the #1 provider to the Internet Retailer Top 1000, the B2B 300, and the Top 500 Guides for Europe and Latin America.

Magento is supported by a vast global network of solution and technology partners, a highly active global developer community, and the largest eCommerce marketplace for extensions, all available for download on the Magento Marketplace.

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