E-commerce isn't just important for B2C

B2B E-Commerce – What SMEs Should Know

With the change from offline to online, buyers are changing their behavior – retail is going digital. This trend has been seen in the B2C sector for years and is becoming more and more important in the B2B area. The growth in B2B e-commerce is rapid and it is estimated that the value of this market will reach US $ 20.9 trillion by 2027 (Intrado, 2020). The questions arise as to whether concepts from the B2C area can simply be adopted and transferred to the B2B sector, what is the difference between the two areas and which requirements must be met so that B2B providers can gain a competitive advantage from this trend.

Published

08 June 2021

Main photo

©Elena - stock.adobe.com

Why is the success of B2B e-commerce?

One of the most important advantages of e-commerce, both in B2C and B2B, is the convenient shopping process that can be done at any time and from any location. The numerous comparison options give customers the opportunity to obtain objective information and make a decision without additional effort.

How is B2B e-commerce different?

The main difference between the two areas results from the different customer behavior. In the B2C area, the prices are fixed, the order quantities are significantly lower and the processing of the purchase and delivery is very standardized. In contrast, in the B2B area, the focus is on the individual needs of the customer. To achieve this, we work step by step with the provider. The main goal of B2B e-commerce is to understand the customer’s wishes more precisely before the purchase process and to offer him an individual solution as a basis for long-term cooperation.

Features of the purchasing process in B2B e-commerce

For this reason, the following features arise for B2B e-commerce retailers:

  • The purchase process is characterized by a detailed information and comparison research.
  • Prices vary greatly and are dependent on various general conditions, such as the order quantity and the exact customer requirements.
  • The delivery process is much more complex, often needs-based and must therefore be designed flexibly for the customer.
  • The process does not end with a direct sale, but with the expressed interest in a product or service (generation of a lead).

E-Marketing: Challenge or Opportunity for B2B Companies?

This complexity in the B2B area makes it difficult for companies to independently set up a successful system for handling a purchase process. The task is increasingly being taken over by independent B2B portals, thus enabling a more efficient solution for successfully handling e-marketing and other steps. Examples of portals are DirectIndustry, EUROPAGES, IndiaMart or Industrystock. One of the greatest advantages of the B2B platforms is that they offer functions that support the targeted search behavior of buyers in the B2B area. The result: a high level of interest on the part of the buyer to get in touch with the provider and request additional information. Registered suppliers receive high-quality inbound leads that can be easily converted by sales.

What significance does B2B e-commerce play for SMEs?

The companies that benefit most from the proliferation of B2B e-commerce are exporting SMEs. Thanks to the spread of international B2B platforms with transparent search functions, German SMEs appear alongside large producers from India, China and the USA. This gives them the chance to win new customers around the world without having to invest in the development of e-commerce systems.

Conclusion: e-commerce in the B2B area is particularly worthwhile for SMEs

With the rapid development of technology, e-commerce is becoming more and more important and is also positioning itself as an important sales channel in the B2B area. Companies must use this development as an opportunity to identify their customers more efficiently on the Internet and to be able to better respond to their needs in the pre-sale process. Portal marketing enables successful e-marketing in the B2B area, without programming effort or high costs.

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