With more and more merchants willing to go online, the business-to-business model has witnessed a huge surge in recent years. Driven by the goal to increase efficiency, these wholesale companies are now looking for web-based, automated solutions. However, online B2B is a complex setup. It has more complexities in its ordering process, elaborate back-end processes along with a huge collection of features needed for running the show. So naturally, the business goals and working models are vastly different from that of a B2C model. The B2C model comprises a diverse group of customers who have smaller ticket sizes of single or multiple purchases. The B2B business, on the other hand, has a smaller set of customers who place large purchase orders.
Given the small clientele, maintaining a strong and long-term partnership with its clients is the key to success for any wholesale business. So, for any enterprise company looking to convert its business into an online store, it’s imperative that they look for the convenience of their clients. And it can be achieved through picking a well-planned ecommerce solution that provides a seamless buying experience. Moreover, it must also focus on the usability aspect of the store that will eventually tap a large number of buyers.
Unlike the B2C sales that are more impulsive, wholesale purchases are more rational, fact based, lengthy in nature and done in large quantities through a well-planned buying strategy. Hence, a business to business website needs to cater to some unique features that will facilitate the decision-making process of their clients.
Let us look at the top 5 engaging tools and features that will ensure the success of a B2B website.
1.Smooth User Experience
That should be your top priority! No matter what platform your customers opt – a mobile, laptop or tablet, your website must be responsive and optimized for a seamless shopping experience. Keep in mind that during an offline transaction mode, the selling party offers a point of contact i.e. a manager who acts as an agent between the two business entities and takes the deal forward. He handles the initial processes of negotiations, discounts before the final deal is made.The enterprise buyers are accustomed to that.
So, when those customers are operating online, they need a similar if not a better user experience. It becomes imperative to ensure that their experience is seamless, effortless and uncomplicated. This is sure to make them feel at home!
In a B2B transaction, products are usually purchased in bulk. So, the website must have an easy-to-search categories and catalogues where the user can select the desired quantity. Moreover, it requires an uncomplicated and functional navigation flow with minimal steps and easily readable font type. A smooth navigation ensures lower bounce rates and happy customers. Space management, images, links, webpage title, detailed product specifications, page loading time, hierarchical categories, catalogues etc. should be accurate to enhance the visual appeal of the ecommerce site.
The website must incorporate special forms to gather the exact requirements of the clients for which custom offers can be made. For an improved user-experience, a strong multi-channel support mechanism should also be included in the form of live chat, SMS, email, mobile notifications, browser etc. Any questions, requests or concerns of a potential client can now be answered – just with a click of a button. This guarantees the preferential treatment they received in the offline mode.
2. Multiple Payment Channels
Given the bulk size, frequency and the complex nature of a wholesale business, a B2B setup requires more effective payment channels than a B2C ecommerce website. The goal is to improve cash flow and through swift issuing, receiving and processing of payments. All of this can be achieved through effective digital payment solutions.
So, mere multiple-choice payment option is not sufficient. Rather, a wholesale setup must offer flexible payment solutions to adapt to the unique needs of its target audience. Along with a host of national and international payment gateways, B2B sites must also have provision for bank transfers, COD, offline payments, credit and debit card payments etc. to offer flexibility to their clients. Such customized checkout flow and adaptive payment modes ensure smooth transactions between both the parties even for bulk purchases. This saves sufficient time and resources. Remember, the payment gateways integrated in the website must easily adapt to the diverse needs of the involved parties and should be secure and hassle-free.
In case of virtual payment transactions, the security net of these ecommerce gateways must be strong and safe. This will give the vendors the assurance to enter into business with new and unknown clients.
3. Personalized Pricing
Pricing is a key factor for the success of any business and it becomes even more important for a wholesale businesses. Given the nature of business, B2B pricing is not uniform for its clients as in the case of B2C environment. The pricing in a business-to-business environment is sensitive, critical and dynamic which is based on order volume, purchase frequency, relationship with any given client, perceived product value, economic environment etc.
So, a successful wholesale online solution provider must offer personalized pricing. This feature will enable the enterprise business to adjust his pricing to offer special deals to each of its clients. However, it must keep in mind all the variable factors. Also, the ecommerce platform must have the feature of a segment-based pricing. This will allow the wholesaler to offer special or customized pricing to a segmented customer group. For example, if a wholesaler wants to target a new foreign market, he may want to offer specific discounts to tap a potential client. The website must be equipped to handle such special situations.
Employing effective pricing strategy in a B2B environment can be really complex. For a successful run, wholesale business should also provide options for minimum order quantity, retail pricing, pricing overrides where price changes based on client login and few other features for exclusive circumstances. A business-to-business platform that is equipped with features to tweak prices or provides flexible pricing configuration capabilities definitely gives a winning edge to your wholesale business.
4. Confidentiality and Security
Maintaining business confidentiality is of paramount importance in every business environment. A typical B2B order process involves multiple people unlike a B2C scenario. Therefore, segregating one user group from the other is one of the key elements for a wholesale environment. Incorporating features like separate logins for resellers, business registration with website, etc. are important for maintaining confidentiality.
Let us imagine an online wholesale business scenario with a variety of user roles, each having a different level of database accessing. In this case if the solution provider includes security features to implement granular user roles, audit logs, separate vendor dashboards (in case of a marketplace environment) it will become much easier to assign different roles to different user groups. This ensures total security of the complete database.
B2B ecommerce also needs to integrate the feature of restricted login-based access to its clients. This feature not only offers unique pricing and deals to maintain the confidentiality but also allows to restrict purchases from unidentified clients or unknown locations that are unsafe and insecure.
5. Multiple Shipping Channels
Regardless of the size, nature and type of an ecommerce business, simplified and hassle-free shipping plays a significant role in the success of a business. But for wholesale businesses, streamlined shipping is a challenge as it involves shipping large volume orders not only to their clients but also their warehouses that are located at numerous business territories.
However, even for freight transportation, wholesale customers expect the same levels of reliability and responsiveness as they receive from their consumer experience. So, ensuring clients of speedy and damage free delivery of goods surely increases business reliability. Wholesale businesses should look for an ecommerce platform that offers integrated shipping to serve domestic as well as international customers.
Moreover, the shipping channel must be automated to handle bulk orders, cut short manual intervention for printing labels and ensure organized pickups.
Try providing buyers with extra benefits like discounted shipping rates, flat shipping rates, free shipping (if possible) along with timely deliveries, wide location coverage and building distribution centers. These features help in achieving a high customer retention rate thereby, boosting your wholesale business.
Your website reflects the value and working ethics of your business. Hence, providing a seamless, positive and satisfying experience to your valued customers and website visitors is important in building a trusting and long-lasting business relationship. Not to mention, it surely boosts conversions and escalates business growth.
Given the host of available B2B ecommerce platforms in the market, at times it can still be challenging to find all the required features in a single platform. Look for an ecommerce platform that is well equipped to handle the diverse requirements of a B2B website and offers a comprehensive solution to help your wholesaler business maximize its ROI.
So, looking to start a website for your wholesale business? Well, you should definitely include looking for a solution that has the above-mentioned features in it. And, if you find these features in an ecommerce platform, make sure to first opt for a free trial run. That will give you a clear understanding of its functionality and help explore its features before you take the final plunge.