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B2B eCommerce: The Growing Trend You Shouldn’t Ignore

December 22, 2022
7 min read
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Increasingly, B2B shoppers are gravitating towards digital sales channels. Learn why you can’t ignore the demand for B2B ecommerce options and how you can deliver on wholesale buyers’ expectations.

What is B2B eCommerce?

B2B ecommerce is the process of selling products (usually wholesale) to another business through a digital sales channel.

As shopping increasingly moves to an omnichannel (both online and in-store) experience, it only makes sense that B2B sales would move in the same direction. Consumers have become more comfortable shopping online, even making large purchases and expanding the types of products they’re willing to buy online.

Why Does B2B ecommerce Matter?

Whether you’re already an established B2B seller, or you’re looking to expand your business to include wholesale channels, ecommerce should be a priority as you build your omnichannel selling strategy.

Digital World

According to McKinsey, digital channel adoption is growing rapidly among B2B buyers. In fact, they report that a full two thirds of buyers now use digital sales channels at some point in the buying process.

For many B2B sellers, ecommerce is now one of their most valuable channels, accounting for as much revenue as in-person sales and more than traditional channels (including phone, email, and online chat).

Until recently, the prevailing school of thought was that B2B purchasers did not trust online sales channels and would not spend above a certain threshold on a fully digital interface. However, McKinsey goes on to report that 35% of B2B shoppers are comfortable spending upwards of a half a million dollars in an online transaction. What’s more, a full 77% are comfortable

spending $50,000 or more online.

Omnichannel Evolution

The growth of B2B ecommerce does not mean that traditional sales channels should be abandoned, but rather, ecommerce should be prioritized as a growing channel within an omnichannel strategy.

In another report, McKinsey reports that most B2B shoppers will interact with a supplier across 10 or more different sales channels.

The expectations of B2B buyers in a digital-first sales environment are not unlike those of general consumers. McKinsey found that purchases value:

  • Real-time customer service (80%)
  • Transparent pricing (80%)
  • Accurate inventory levels available online (81%)
  • Cross-channel consistency (80%)
  • Free shipping for any order (69%)
  • 2-day delivery options (67%)

Any merchant who sells direct to consumer or on ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon understands the need for fast, affordable shipping. Fortunately, the high volume of most B2B ecommerce sales can help offset the cost of fast shipping when partnering with the right outsourced fulfillment provider.

Types of B2B Sellers

Obviously, not all businesses are the same. If you’re looking to expand your business into B2B ecommerce channels, you are likely in one of two categories.

1. You may be a D2C or marketplace seller looking to expand into B2B sales.

If you’re and established ecommerce seller looking to increase volume and discover new customers through retail or marketplace partnerships, your options for expanding into B2B ecommerce may look familiar.

A B2B marketplace like Faire.com is a great way to gain exposure to independent retail shops looking to partner with other small businesses. The marketplace environment is familiar to most ecommerce merchants, making it an easy way to begin selling B2B.

If you’re looking to get your brand discovered by larger retail partners, you might consider joining a platform like Rangeme. Rangeme provides a platform for B2B sellers to display their products, make relationships with retail buyers, and complete transactions.

And finally, you may be considering adding a B2B ecommerce channel because wholesale buyers have reached out to you. In that case, if you use an ecommerce platform like Shopify, for example, you can simply add a password protected wholesale storefront to your online store.

2. You may be an established B2B seller using legacy sales channels.

In this case, you may be considering adding ecommerce capabilities to your website in order to sell more to your current customers. Established customers may find re-ordering online more convenient than having to make a phone call or send a purchase order.

However, you may be surprised to learn that adding ecommerce capabilities to your website can also attract new customers, especially as Millennials take up more positions as decision makers. In fact, a report from Gartner found that 44% of Millennial B2B buyers prefer a seller-free (read: digital) sales experience.

Digital sales channels also provide rich data that you can leverage for more targeted marketing and to make more informed procurement and manufacturing decisions.

B2B eCommerce Fulfillment

A savvy merchant knows that the post-click experience is key to customer retention and customer lifetime value (CLV). Fulfillment and delivery are key to that post-click experience, with 79% of consumers reporting that they are more likely to make a repeat purchase after a positive delivery experience.

At the end of the day, whether your customers are B2B or D2C, they are all ultimately consumers. and consumers have the same priorities when it comes to fulfillment, including:

  • Customization: The ability to choose method and time of delivery
  • Visibility/Tracking: At every stage of the purchase process, including delivery estimates at checkout and reliable last mile carrier tracking
  • Reliability: Beyond delivery speed, consumers value reliable delivery estimates and open communication throughout the delivery process

You may be selling to a mix of B2B customers – from mom and pop shops to major retailers. In order to simplify your operations and create a consistent cross-channel experience, it’s important to find a fulfillment solution in place that can support multiple transit modes (LTL, FTL, and small parcel) through a single network.

The key to simplified fulfillment operations is find a tech-enabled fulfillment solution, such as a 4PL or on-demand warehousing partner that integrates with all of your sales channels for simpler cross channel management and visibility.

Ware2Go’s B2B eCommerce Solution

Ware2Go is a UPS company that simplifies the end-to-end supply chain to enable businesses of all sizes to compete and win. With a nationwide network of full-service warehouses connected by best-in-class fulfillment software, Ware2Go merchants can easily expand into new channels like B2B ecommerce without taking on additional assets or additional risk.

If you’re looking for a fulfillment solution for your B2B ecommerce channel, explore Ware2Go’s solutions. If you’re looking for more ecommerce growth tips and the latest commerce and supply chain trends, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

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