The B2B ecommerce is altogether a different world. In the B2B model, transactions are done between two business entities and not between individuals. One business is selling its products to another business.
Products that are usually an integral part of B2B transactions include IT equipment, medical equipment, office supplies etc.
Following are the top 8 characteristics of B2B ecommerce:
Multiple Decision Makers
In the B2B environment, there is more than one decision maker involved in buying a product. Multiple decision makers consult with each other before placing an order.
To be more precise, a B2B ecommerce software has an approval workflow to make purchases. An approval workflow is nothing but a series of steps that are taken in the purchasing process.
Multiple decision-makers take a look at the product/s that needs to be purchased. The approval workflow can either be serial or parallel.
In short, in a B2B ecommerce there are multiple approvers in the purchasing process. Multiple approvers decide whether the company really needs to purchase that product. The person placing the order is different than the one approving the order.
No wonder, the checkout process of B2B customers is far different from the B2C customers.
Buying Cycle is Longer
Long sales cycle is the hallmark of B2B ecommerce.
Since multiple approvers are involved in the buying cycle, decision making can be a lengthy process. Unlike B2C, it may take days to complete a buying cycle. Hence, as the owner of ecommerce store, you need to have patience when dealing with B2B customers.
From initial contact to sales, it is a time-taking process in a B2B environment.
Unlike B2C, one product catalog cannot be displayed to all B2B customers. Every B2B customer is after all an organization (a company), hence its requirements are very specific that are unlikely to match with any other B2B customer.
In a B2B ecommerce, catalog content will vary depending upon who has logged into the store. Inventory as well as product pricing is different for each and every B2B customer.
So if you plan to Build ecommerce store for B2B customers, make sure the store has provision to display customer-specific catalogs.
Customer-specific discounts is another feature of B2B online stores.
Guest logins are a strict no-no in a B2B environment. It is mandatory for customers to first register before making any purchases.
Access by registration is the only way by which customers can place orders in B2B stores.
Ability to View Past Orders
Usually, B2B customers buy the same products that they have ordered in the past. Keeping this in mind, every B2B Ecommerce solution makes the re-ordering process easy.
B2B ecommerce platforms allow its users to view and select their past orders with a single click. One-click reordering is one of the characteristics of B2B ecommerce.
Ability to Place Bulk Order
Unlike B2C, B2B customers do not purchase one or two products. They often purchase in bulk. Hence, every B2B store has the provision to order in bulk. There is a bulk order form wherein the customer can fill the details to receive the order in the required quantity.
It is a myth that B2B customers use only desktops to make purchases. A growing number of companies are now placing orders online through mobile devices.
Keeping the growing popularity of mobile commerce in mind, every B2B online store must have a responsive design so that large customers can access and comfortably view your store from any mobile devices.
When you are offering a responsive site, your B2B customers can use their smartphones, tablets, etc., for online shopping.
Offer a Range of Payment Options
B2B ecommerce provides a variety of payment options, apart from credit and debit card. Since you are dealing with a B2B customer ensure that there are ways to make payments such as Company PO and Company Check.
Other payment options such as Net 30 and Net 60 should also be considered as these payment methods eliminate the need to make immediate payments.
Irrespective of the features you offer on your ecommerce store, make sure your website is optimized for SEO. Having a SEO-friendly website is extremely important to get organic traffic through different search engines.