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B2B eCommerce: The Ultimate Guide for Online Sellers

Last updated April 27, 2022 8 min to read
B2B eCommerce
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In the US alone, B2B eCommerce is soon expected to reach $1.8 trillion, according to Forrester. Targeting a chunk of this expanding market, an increasing number of wholesalers and brands are moving their traditional B2B stores online.

In order to stand out from the crowd and meet the growing expectations of business customers, you’ll need to stay on top of the trends, utilize the best B2B eCommerce software and provide exceptional customer service.

Read on to learn about the potential of business-to-business eCommerce as well as the best tools to tap into it.

What is B2B eCommerce? 

B2B is selling or distributing goods or services from one business to another using an online platform. In B2B (compared to B2C), the transaction is between businesses (such as manufacturers or retailers) instead of the general public or individuals.

There are two models of operating in B2B eCommerce:

  • One is the direct model, in which companies set up their site to sell solutions directly to other businesses. 
  • The alternative is a through a B2B eCommerce marketplace, where many companies sell their products competing with each other on the same platform.

How big is B2B eCommerce?

B2B eCommerce is enormous. In 2019, the global B2B eCommerce market was worth US$12.2 trillion – 6 times that of the B2C market, according to Statista.

Globally, the Asia Pacific region leads the way, with a market share of almost 80%. This leaves North America and Europe far behind!

Three B2B eCommerce trends to watch in 2020

B2B eCommerce is evolving, just as buyers’ preferences and motivations change. These are the trends to look for this year: 

1. Rise of specialized marketplaces

Global marketplaces like Amazon Business or Alibaba have, arguably, no rivals. Right? Not exactly. There are plenty of more specialized B2B marketplaces emerging.

Thanks to specializing in specific segments, like car parts, chemicals, or healthcare, vertical industry marketplaces are gaining a bigger share of the pie. Offering a wider range of products in a particular area along with industry-specific services, specialized marketplaces are growing quickly.

FastMetals B2B eCommerce marketplace
Fastmetals is a popular B2B marketplace specialized in stainless steel and other metals.

Only five years ago, there were very few vertical marketplaces. Today, there are more than 70 B2B marketplaces in almost 13 diverse industries, according to research by Digital Commerce 360 B2B.

2. B2B eCommerce will continue to follow the B2C model

While the B2B industry has traditionally been behind the curve when it comes to technology, this is starting to shift.

This means that B2B customers have come to expect features that were, until recently, exclusively associated with the world of B2C, such as:

Just like on B2C sites, product pages will replicate essential features designed with the goal of converting in mind.

B2B eCommerce product page
Just like a regular B2C product page, Buy Swings displays basic information as well as shipping, warranty and reviews.

Search is also an important component of a B2B site, copying the optimized design of B2C sites. There’s a reason why: on-site searchers are 216% more likely to convert than regular users, according to research from WebLinc.

B2B eCommerce product page with search feature
Online Carparts offers powerful search functionality. You can search by item, car, part number, or by car parts with the aid of images.

3. Growing reliance on peers and review websites

Who do you trust when you’re looking into buying new software for your customer support team? You’ll probably ask members of the community. And most likely, you’ll look at reviews online. Expect the same behavior as part of the B2B buying journey – reviews can make or break a deal.

A recent survey by Demand Gen found that buyers are developing a growing reliance on peers, current users, and review websites.

The importance of reviews
Spare parts site Parts Town adds a module showing customer reviews on its home page.

Top B2B eCommerce Strategies and Best Practices

You’re interested in getting a chunk of the ever-expanding B2B eCommerce market. What do you need to make it a success? We take a look at some highly effective eCommerce strategies and best practices.

Gather leads using webinar, reports, and e-books

In the online world, our email address is our currency. People won’t give it away easily. If you want to gather leads, you need to offer something in return.

According to the 2019 B2B Buyers Survey Report, B2B buyers are most likely to trade their contact information for content like webinars, whitepapers, reports, and e-books.

Newsletter sign-up
Hubspot’s site offers a B2B guide in exchange for your contact details.

Just remember that stories are far more powerful than feature lists and product specifications. Great eCommerce marketing puts the customer at the front and center of its strategy. While it can seem counter intuitive, your product should come further down the eCommerce funnel.

Use sales reps as agents for change

As B2B eCommerce platforms evolve so does the role of sales reps. It’s no longer about endlessly convincing prospects about how great a product is. Instead, it’s about listening and figuring out how your product can help buyers. It’s also about training customers so that they are independent and can easily analyze the data and make an accurate business decision on value themselves.

Listen to your customers’ feedback

You think you know your customer, but have you actually listened to what they have to say? Often, what you have in mind about how they use your product is completely different from reality. Getting customer feedback and opinions from an early stage ensures you’ll be designing an eCommerce platform that genuinely works for your buyers. 

Top B2B eCommerce software and solutions

Realizing the huge potential for growth that B2B eCommerce has, the landscape for eCommerce software is rapidly expanding. This is good news – it means better pricing and the likelihood that you’ll find the right solution for your needs.

When deciding which B2B eCommerce platform is right for you, the first thing you should do is ask yourself which features are crucial for your business. For example, do you have a large inventory? Then you’ll need software with a powerful search integration.

Read on to learn about the key B2B eCommerce software and solutions that you should evaluate for your business needs.

Shopify Plus 

There’s a reason why Shopify stock has surged nearly 4,600% since the company’s IPO five years ago. The Canada-based eCommerce platform has managed to consistently improve their product and offer a solid and easy to use eCommerce platform.

Even during the COVID-19 crisis, Shopify has managed to succeed as a business, helping struggling businesses capitalize on eCommerce penetration.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus lets you access a wholesale eCommerce channel that you can add to your website with just a few clicks. Since it’s super customizable, Shopify lets you basically tap into any feature you could want, like integrating customer data from your ERP, integrating with eBay, or segmenting your customers based on buying behavior. You can also connect your Shopify store with an app like Sumo or Smile.io to customize it further.

Related: The Best B2B eCommerce Platforms in the World

WooCommerce

If you’re using WordPress, the open-source WooCommerce platform is a safe bet. You won’t be alone – over 40% of online stores are currently using WooCommerce to sell online.

WooCommerce has hundreds of free and paid extensions so you have plenty of options to customize your site. The platform has a specific plugin for B2B customers, aimed at resellers.

B2B eCommerce site using WooCommerce
Three Marks Coffee is a great example of a B2B website using WooCommerce.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is an easy-to-use, customizable CRM favored by those in the tech or creative industries. You can set it up in seconds and it’s an affordable option for small and medium-sized B2B eCommerce.

Pipedrive

Katana

Katana is a visual inventory management software designed for manufacturing eCommerce looking to scale. Why is inventory management so crucial in eCommerce? If you have too much stock, then you are piling up cash and using up space. If you have too little of it, it means delays and unhappy customers. You also need to ensure you don’t sell something that’s out of stock!

Katana gives visibility on every order from the time it’s received through to the customers’ doorstep. Plus it integrates with Shopify and WooCommerce.

Katana

Sumo

Sumo’s motto is clear: “Pop-ups don’t have to suck.” This simple tool allows businesses to create beautiful pop-ups that appear on clicks, timers, and before people leave. It’s a simple way to invite your B2B audience to sign up for discounts, newsletters, and product guides.

Sumo also works with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.

Sumo

Leadfeeder

Leadfeeder is a web visitor identification tool aimed at B2B marketers and salespeople. You can use it to find out which companies visit your website, even if they never fill out a form or get in touch with you. If your target company visits your site, you’ll be notified.

Use it to discover new prospects and monitor existing customers.

Leadfeeder

eDesk

B2B eCommerce sellers are often dealing in large quantities. That means you need to be on top of your inventory and customer communications at all times.

With a dedicated eCommerce helpdesk like eDesk, you have integrations that connect the platforms you sell on, your inventory management software as well as customer communication channels. This enables you to have every vital piece of information at your fingertips, allowing you to resolve customer queries quickly and easily.

eDesk customer support software

Biggest eCommerce B2B marketplaces

If you don’t have the budget to create your own customized online store, you can look into selling on a marketplace instead. By selling directly on a marketplace you can reduce marketing costs since that’ll be done by the platform. 

One disadvantage, however, is that you’ll lose brand awareness – the look and feel of the site are controlled by the marketplace itself. You’ll also be selling on a site with hundreds or thousands of competitors.

On the plus side, you’ll have access to a sizable, engaged audience of potential customers.

Amazon Business

Amazon Business is the B2B counterpart of Amazon, a site focused on businesses of all sizes. The numbers on Amazon Business are also huge: by joining the platform you’ll be sharing space with over 150,000 sellers, with sales of $10 billion per year. 

Amazon Business
Amazon Business offers access to hundreds of millions of products across business-relevant categories from sellers worldwide.

One of the big advantages of selling on Amazon Business is that people are already familiar with the purchasing experience of the site. And it’s obvious that the Amazon customer experience is a successful one!

Alibaba

Alibaba is the largest B2B online marketplace in the world. Coming from China, it operates globally. The numbers are impressive, too: businesses selling on Alibaba have access to almost 13 million active buyers globally and reach 190 countries.

Alibaba
Alibaba is a huge B2B eCommerce marketplace that can help you reach millions of customers.

Final words

B2B eCommerce is a massive industry and is set to grow even larger. If you’re currently only selling to consumers, but you have a product that could be sold wholesale you should seriously consider expanding. Before you do so, make sure you’re prepared and have all the right software to set yourself up for success!

Did you know that over 60% of US online retail purchases were made through Amazon last year? Amazon’s hold over eCommerce is well established, with 9.1 million active Amazon sellers worldwide and an average of 66 thousand orders per day. Newer sellers may be wondering how they can get more sales on Amazon in such a competitive environment.

The truth is, they absolutely can because with Amazon’s booming market share come many opportunities. We’ve assembled this digestible list of 14 quick wins and strategic moves, to help you up your game and sell more on Amazon.

1. Do keyword research

Having the right keywords can be one of the most important tactics in reaching your target audiences. Using the keywords that are common to searches for your products is the objective, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is a constantly evolving game. That means that keywords used successfully in the past may not be as effective with updated search engine algorithms today.

The terms used by customers to find products change daily and are affected by seasonal, cultural, and economic factors. Hence, it’s important to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and make sure you cast a wide net when implementing keywords for each product listing.

Each product should be optimized with as many relevant keywords as possible – into the hundreds! This gives you the best possible chance of getting your products found by customers, helping you sell more on Amazon.

Amazon keyword research tools like Helium 10, SellerApp, Jungle Scout, and AMZ One can help by generating a list of related keywords with search volume, competition level, and other useful metrics, making it easier for you to choose the best keywords for your product listing

2. Use a repricing tool to get more sales on Amazon

When it comes to sealing the deal and making a sale, price is a main deciding factor for many customers. As an Amazon seller, you always want to make sure you’re pricing your products competitively, but equally, you don’t want to lose your margin! 

This is something that using repricing software can help with. Repricing software automates the pricing process in real-time, ensuring your prices stay in line with those of competitors, and with market fluctuations, while you get more sales on Amazon.

Repricing software also has many customisable features that allow you to set prices at optimal levels to help drive sales, without compromising profit. It’s worth taking a trial to see how it can help lift your sales. 

3. Get more Amazon reviews

Online reviews are important to spread confidence through word of month and for building credibility for your brand. It’s also a fact that 72% of shoppers won’t buy until they’ve read reviews of a product from people like themselves – people they trust. 

Even a strong product with great marketing behind it still has to overcome the fear of the unknown if there’s no social proof. Plus, positive reviews are a significant factor in deciding which products win the Amazon Buy Box.

Get more Amazon reviews by encouraging feedback from your customers. The best way to do this is by utilizing feedback software to automate the process.

4. Provide great customer service

Customer service is absolutely essential in eCommerce. Offering top-quality customer service not only adds value, but helps retain customers. A big part of making a sale is assuring the customer that they can trust you to deliver, and that trust is hard earned but easily lost. Providing good eCommerce customer service is critical, and committing to providing great customer service is all the more so!

As an Amazon seller, you need to be on top of your customer service. Responsiveness, a friendly manner and quick and easy resolution processes are all ingredients that make for a winning approach to great customer service. 

But it can be confusing trying to streamline it all. Thankfully, there are all sorts of tools available to make this job easier, like helpdesk software to keep all your customer interactions in one place. This helps you to respond quickly and accurately to customer inquiries when they come in, so that your customers always know you’ve got their back.

5. Leverage Amazon seller tools

The best part about being an Amazon seller is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are numerous tools available to help you maximize your business and get the most out of selling on Amazon, whether third-party or FBA. 

From repricing tools, to help desk software, to review software and even shipping assistance, many tools exist on the market today that specifically help Amazon sellers optimize their listings, prices, feedback, shipping, customer service and even their taxes. 

There are many different seller tools available, so it’s worth reading about options and making an informed decision about the right ones to choose for your business. With the right tools, you can grow your business more than you ever thought possible. 

6. Get more sales on Amazon with ads

Running ads is almost guaranteed to help you get more sales on Amazon, but it’s easy to just throw money at them and hope for the best. You can do better! Pay attention to your advertising cost of sales (ACOS) metric, the figure for how much ad spend you need in order to make a sale.

By advertising more efficiently, you lower your ACOS and ensure you get more bang for your buck. Over time, you’ll learn what works and you can employ a strategy with regards to how you run your ads. Taking an insight-driven approach to Amazon ads results in a more profitable Amazon business!

7. Optimise your product pages

The old saying goes that 80% of readers never make it past the headline of any piece of content. That means once you’ve written your product title, you’ve effectively spent 80 cents of your dollar.

When writing product titles, stick to the formula of:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Features (size, colour, gender etc). 

This lets you include the right keywords in the right order to immediately tell shoppers that this is the product for them.

Moreover, making sure to visually design your product pages so that they’re clean, simple and easy to read will also help win over shoppers. No one wants to read through a cluttered page. The more straightforward (yet informative) and the cleaner you make your design, the more likely you’ll be to win over those elusive eyeballs!

8. Win the Amazon Buy Box

The quickest way to get more sales on Amazon is by ensuring that your products show up consistently in the Amazon Buy Box (the area in the top right of a product page, where shoppers can ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’). This is because over 82% of sales happen through this highly sought after space.

Although the exact formula to win the Buy Box is unknown, there are a few things that we know are essential. These are mainly metrics that prove the seller is providing a good customer experience. Customer reviews play a big role here. The more positive reviews a seller can amass, the likelihood of winning the Buy Box increases. 

In addition to reviews, something else that’s obviously very important to Amazon shoppers is price! By using repricing software, you can automatically set your prices at the optimal level to win the Buy Box and maximize profit, even if you’ve got an enormous inventory.

9. Amazon account health rating

The Amazon account health rating (AHR) is a new feature that helps you monitor your account health based on its adherence to Amazon seller policies. 

It considers both negative factors (such as the number of unresolved policy violations on your account) as well as positive factors (how your account positively impacts the customer experience through its selling activities). 

Each account will be given a rating, which is regularly reviewed as Amazon monitors the performance of its sellers. If your account is off-target, you will be notified so that you can improve your performance. Conversely, a good AHR rating will work in your favor, helping assure customers that they’re doing business with a compliant seller. 

10. Maintain your Amazon SLA

A big part of being a seller is cultivating trust with your customers. That means showing them that you operate in an above-board manner and that you’ll make good on your promise of fulfillment to them. One way of doing that is by making sure your Amazon store has a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is a promise to your customers that they’ll receive their orders on time. When it comes to fulfillment, the SLA is based on the capacity to fulfill open orders and on-time shipping and delivery. 

SLAs help manage customer expectations by defining standards and outlining circumstances under which you as the seller won’t be liable for unfulfilled promises (e.g., natural disasters preventing shipping, etc). 

eDesk’s customer service solution is designed to alert you when your SLA is expiring, so your business is never caught without one. Having a current SLA helps you maintain transparency with customers, thereby building trust which helps ensure customer loyalty.  

11. Focus on products that already sell

Most ambitious business owners want to try new streams of revenue, but it’s important not to lose sight of the things that are making you money now. 

By doubling down on the products that already provide your Amazon store with a reliable revenue stream, you not only deliver to market demand but ensure that you have the financial runway required to take risks on innovative new products, if need be. 

Review your financial statements every quarter and look at the items that are performing best in your store. Think about how you can continue to market these with ads, SEO keywords and upgraded images to maximize their selling potential in your online store. 

12. Sync your inventory

Inventory can be a delicate balancing act. Hold too much inventory for too long and you need to pay over the odds to store it. But hold too little inventory and you lose out on vital sales, or even customers, due to an inability to fulfill. Amazon can also penalize you if your inventory performance isn’t up to standard.

Stock control is something every seller needs to understand and have the capability to manage for optimal results. Smart inventory management is an under-appreciated way to increase your Amazon sales and profit margin. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Investing in the right tools and software can help sellers take the stress out of balancing supply and demand.

13. Expand into new Amazon marketplaces 

Amazon currently has 20 marketplaces around the world, which include the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Australia and more. 

You can scale your brand by moving into some of these marketplaces. This can involve doing market research to find out which products are popular in each market and then uplevelling your shipping operations in order to be able to ship globally.  

But expanding into new markets also means you’ll need to take language into consideration and localize your listings so that they feature each marketplace’s local language and SEO keywords in the appropriate language. Multilingual customer service is also needed in order to be able to service customers across various marketplaces in their local language. 

Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. eDesk’s help desk solution is designed to support customer service and workflow in multiple languages, so you can expand your business without investing in the overhead of hiring a global team. 

14. Spy on your competitors

Ok, maybe “spy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but profitable sellers are always on the lookout for what their competitors are doing. You want to make sure you’re offering the right inventory for your market at the right prices. Repricing software will monitor this for you, taking the guesswork out of pricing at the right levels. 

Using data gleaned from helpdesk reporting can also help you gather valuable insights and feedback from your customers, which will help you to better understand what customers want and need. Acting on analytics-driven insights from easy-to-read reports means you’re always one step ahead of the competition. 

Final thoughts

The quest to increase your store’s Amazon sales doesn’t need to be an uphill struggle. There are many resources available to Amazon sellers today to help them optimize their store and develop a healthy sales pipeline. 

By staying in touch with how the Amazon platform grows and using the right tech tools to drive your business, you can continue to do what you do best: building a great brand, winning customers, retaining existing customers and improving your bottom line. 

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