When you think about ecommerce, you tend to think about consumer based shopping (B2C) - buying clothes from Asos or books from Amazon however did you know that business to business (B2B) ecommerce sales are actually almost double that of B2C sales?
As businesses focus more and more on reducing the total cost of procurement, the demand for electronic trading with suppliers has become more prevalent; especially with the introduction of electronic marketplaces such as Unimarket (www.unimarket.com) and Coupa (www.coupa.com).
It is almost becoming a necessity for all businesses to provide an ecommerce platform for their customers.
We have to remember though that B2B customers are different to B2C. While they expect the same level of user experience, they also expect to see their own agreed pricing; to see their own agreed product ranges and to be able to pay by invoice, not necessarily by credit card. They also want to be able to view and download invoices and may even request that you create a punch out / roundtrip link to their ERP system.
This may be a no brainer for larger organisations who have the budget to create a customised B2B ecommerce platform with various integrations but what about the SME suppliers? How are they expected to get started on the ecommerce journey?
Well, the good news is there are low cost "off the shelf" options available. The example I'm going to use today is "Shopify". Shopify is a powerful ecommerce solution that includes everything you need to be able to trade online. It is a fully hosted solution that involves no upfront investment; you simply pay a monthly fee with no minimum contract term. The basic package would cost you around $50 per month.
Although it started out as a B2C platform, there are now many 'apps' from their marketplace that you can add that allow you to customise the store for all B2B requirements, including punch out.
It is easy to use, very low cost and having a quality ecommerce platform like Shopify can certainly put SME's on a level playing field with their bigger competitors.
If you'd like to find out more about creating a B2B ecommerce store for your business then contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (+64) 221298618.