When most people think about E-commerce they think of Amazon, e-Bay and other online retailers selling products directly to consumers. But the scope and definition of E-commerce has expanded over the years to now include all kinds of businesses, including manufacturers, consultants, distributors and other types of B2Bs.Now before you cringe at the thought of a B2B conducting business over the web you have to shatter your idea of a traditional E-commerce website altogether. B2B ecommerce sites take on a very different form than a traditional retail site. Instead of a focus on product display and search functions, B2B E-commerce sites act as an ambassador or virtual salesperson for a business, gently guiding prospects through the sales cycle and educating them about problems and solutions.
Three reasons why E-commerce sites make sense for B2Bs:
Efficiency – When used in the right ways, E-commerce sites can streamline a B2B sales process tremendously. From screening prospects, to filling basic orders for manufacturers to generating leads from online marketing activities – an E-commerce site can do multiple jobs at once, freeing up the sales team for warm leads, prospecting and large accounts.
Communication – Not to be depended on as the sole source of communication for a business, an ecommerce site can be an invaluable resource for displaying information and reviews about products and services. In today’s world, most research is conducted online and prospects feel more comfortable learning about a business’ from the comfort of a computer screen. Not to mention, it’s a great place to host a blog with helpful articles related to your industry.
Cost – Naturally, there is an upfront cost to developing the infrastructure for an E-commerce system. But over time, as online sales processes are fine-tuned managing an ecommerce site will actually prove to reduce administrative costs and maximize productivity in the sales department.
Justin King, B2B E-Commerce Evangelist and Strategist, writes a blog focused on E-Commerce for B2B. In one blog article titled,
5 Great B2B eCommerce Websites King discusses five great B2B sites and what they are doing well.
One of his examples that you may be familiar with is
Quill Office Supplies. King praises Quill for the navigation and usability of their site among other things. “Quill.com is a great B2B site. They have focused on taxonomy, guided navigation, and search to make this a fantastic site,” King Said.
“I like how Quill merchandises as you hover over a category on their home page. Then as you go deeper into their site, they use product attributes to enable the customer to filter the search results.”
Another familiar example King gives is industrial supplier
Grainger. “From search to guided navigation, their site is fantastic at getting customers to the right product. In addition, they have great account tools (as a logged in user), and have set the standard for features such as Quick Order, “ King says.
If you are a B2B owner or manager and have written off the world of E-commerce as a B2C space – think again. The tools and groundwork have shown up to ensure B2B business’s increased success and operability with the right E-commerce tools.
About the Author
Rachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to small enterprises and non-profits. She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.