Advantages of B2B Ecommerce [Infographic]: 10 Reasons to Make the Move from B2C into B2B and Online Wholesale

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce [Infographic]: 10 Reasons to Make the Move from B2C into B2B and Online Wholesale

The worlds of B2B and B2C are colliding. And their stomping ground is ecommerce.

Unfortunately, very few B2C merchants are reaping the rich opportunities that moving into B2B and especially online wholesale present.

That’s why today — on the heels of Monday’s in-depth guide, B2B Ecommerce: How the Best in B2B Sales Succeed Online — we’re going to take a detailed, data-driven look at the advantages of B2B ecommerce.

Whether you’re already up and running, just getting started, or haven’t even considered B2B and online wholesale as a major channel … here are 10 reasons why now is the time.

Click here to jump to the full infographic.

1. Global B2B Ecommerce Is $5.5 Trillion Larger than B2C Ecommerce

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 1: Global B2B Ecommerce Is $5.5 Trillion Larger than B2C Ecommerce

Infographic transcript:

2017 B2C Ecommerce Sales: $2.143 trillion. 2017 B2B Ecommerce Sales: $7.661 trillion. That’s a 257.4% difference in market size. And yet … B2B organization identified adapting to the “era of empowered customers” as their top challenge: (1) Customers are increasingly using digital channels to shop; we need to be there: 54%. (2) Need to reach a wider shopper base to sell our products: 46%.

According to the most recent findings from Statista, by the close of 2017, B2C ecommerce sales will hit $2.143 trillion worldwide. B2B ecommerce sales — on the other hand — will reach $7.661 trillion. That’s a 257.4% difference in market size.

And yet … B2B organizations identified adapting to the “era of empowered customers” as their top challenge:

  1. Customers are increasingly using digital channels to shop; we need to be there: 54%
  2. Need to reach a wider shopper base to sell our products: 46%

Want one-on-one guidance for B2B ecommerce?

Shopify Plus hosts ecommerce’s largest ecosystem of Merchant Success Managers and award-winning Agency Partners.

Those are just two of the reasons — along with a dedicated Wholesale Channel for B2B sales — our merchants are growing 120% year over year.


Connect with an ecommerce expert today

2. B2B Customers Prefer Ecommerce Self-Service at Every Stage of the Funnel

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 2: B2B Customers Prefer Ecommerce Self-Service at Every Stage of the Funnel

Infographic transcript:

By a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate. B2B customers are 57% of the way through a purchase before they reach out. 86% prefer using self-service tools for reordering rather than talking to a sales representative.

While a top challenge to existing organizations, current B2C merchants have an enormous competitive advantage because they’re already used to offering self-service options.

By a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate. Moreover, typical B2B customers — according to research from CEB now Gartner — are 57% of the way through a purchase before they reach out.

Even more powerful for ongoing sales, 86% prefer using self-service tools for reordering rather than talking to a sales representative. In fact, by 2020, one million US B2B sales people will lose their jobs to self-service ecommerce. All this means …

3. Online Content Is the First Place Customers Turn When Making B2B Buying Decisions

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 3: Online Content Is the First Place Customers Turn When Making B2B Buying Decisions

Infographic transcript:

98% of B2B buyers do at least some online research. 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. “Most effective” B2B sales content: Product information: 35%. Demos: 31%. Best practices: 20%. Case studies: 19%. Expert opinions: 19%.

An astounding 98% of B2B buyers do at least some online research. This isn’t to say that human contact is completely irrelevant.

However, backing up the 57% stat from above, SiriusDecisions has gone to great lengths researching and defending an even more promising number: “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”

As for what type of content to cultivate, B2B buyers rated the following content types as “most effective” to sales:

  1. Product information: 35%
  2. Demos: 31%
  3. Best practices: 20%
  4. Case studies: 19%
  5. Expert opinions: 19%

4. Average Order Sizes and Conversion Rates in B2B Ecommerce Dwarfs B2C

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 4: Average Order Sizes and Conversion Rates in B2B Ecommerce Dwarfs B2C

Infographic transcript:

B2B average order value: $491. B2C average order value: $147. Internet Retailer: “The average conversion rate reported by the B2B survey respondents was 10%, much higher than the 3% average reported by business-to-consumer executives.” Forrester: “B2B buyers not only report higher total spend online, but also higher percentages of work purchases made online, and a larger average purchase size for online work purchases.”

While the average order value in B2C ecommerce is roughly $147, B2B’s average order value comes in at over double that: $491.

According to the same Internet Retailer research: “The average conversion rate reported by the B2B survey respondents was 10%, much higher than the 3% average reported by business-to-consumer executives.”

Likewise, Forrester found: “B2B buyers not only report higher total spend online, but also higher percentages of work purchases made online, and a larger average purchase size for online work purchases.”

5. Most B2B Buyers Prefer the B2C Ecommerce Experience

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 5: Most B2B Buyers Prefer the B2C Ecommerce Experience

Infographic transcript:

Business customers rank the following B2C capabilities as increasingly essential to their online shopping experience: Enhanced search functionality: 62%. Ratings and reviews: 56%. Personalized recommendations: 54%. Promotions and special offers: 51%. Mobile-optimized website: 41%. 69% of business buyers prefer direct payments like credit cards and online gateways over purchase orders and invoices.

B2C ecommerce has profoundly influenced B2B expectations. Business customers rank the following B2C capabilities as increasingly essential to their online shopping experience:

  • Enhanced search functionality: 62%
  • Ratings and reviews: 56%
  • Personalized recommendations: 54%
  • Promotions and special offers: 51%
  • Mobile-optimized website: 41%

Surprisingly, 69% of business buyers prefer direct payments like credit cards or online gateways over purchase orders and invoices.

All of this is good news for B2C merchants thinking about moving into B2B or wholesale. Instead of recreating the wheel, a compelling B2B site should integrate the best-practices your existing site already provides.

To segment the two audiences, Shopify Plus makes creating multiple storefronts easy. In addition, apps like Locksmith enable you to password protect not only specific product collections, but also to create subscriber-only sales and content. Multiple storefronts are only the start …

6. Wholesale Ecommerce Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated for Merchants or Customers 

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 6: Wholesale Ecommerce Doesn’t Have to Complicated for Merchants or Customers

Infographic transcript:

Traditional wholesale buyers prefer simplicity over all the bells and whistles of B2C ecommerce. This applies to resellers, small franchises, and B2C outlets. These types of buyers are used to spreadsheets, phone calls, and faxed order forms. Catering to them is crucial depending on your market and goals.

The only caveat to the last advantage of B2B has to do with wholesale.

In the case of resellers — like independent retail stores, small-to-medium franchises, and B2C outlets — some B2B buyers prefer simplicity over the bells and whistles of B2C ecommerce. 

In many cases, catering to these types of buyers means offering them a digital version of the spreadsheets and faxed order forms they’re used to.

Shopify Plus’ Wholesale Channel strikes that balance beautifully. As Pierre Verrier, Director of Design and Development at Noticed puts it:

“The greatest myth around wholesale ecommerce is that it’s difficult to get your sales channel up and running. Using Shopify Plus and the Wholesale Channel is a fast and convenient way to get selling and give your customers the optimal portal to streamline their ordering process.”

7. Dynamic Pricing Makes Larger Purchases Easier and More Profitable

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 7: Dynamic Pricing Makes Larger Purchases Easier and More Profitable

Infographic transcript:

At 62%, automated pricing optimization is the number one technology innovation current B2B providers are investing in. Cloud-based ecommerce meets this challenge head on. Shopify Scripts: Automatic price changes based on order size, product volume, availability, and customer location. Draft Orders: Negotiated deals for complex B2B transactions that can be automated into a customer’s account. Wholesale Channel: Password-protected storefront for resellers and high-volume customers with personalized pricing.

At 62%, automated pricing optimization is the number one technology innovation current B2B providers are planning to invest in.

Why? Because dynamic pricing — prices that automatically adjust to volume, customer-order history, and market forces — makes optimizing margins a data-driven exercise rather than a mix of production costs and “gut” feelings.

Unfortunately, as McKinsey & Company recently pointed out:

“Many marketers end up simply burying their heads in the sand. They develop prices based on simplistic factors … fall back on old practices to manage the products as they always have or cite ‘market prices’ as an excuse for not attacking the issues.”

Cloud-based ecommerce meets this challenge head on. For instance, Shopify Plus merchants can implement dynamic, personalized pricing through a host of methods:

  • Shopify Scripts: Automatic price changes based on order size, product volume, availability, and customer location.
  • Draft Orders: Negotiated deals for complex, first-time B2B transactions that can then be automated into the customer’s on-going account.
  • Wholesale Channel: Password-protected storefront for resellers, high-volume customers, negotiated deals, and both exclusive pricing as well as products.

8. Transparent Ecommerce Pricing Drives Repeat B2B Purchases

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 8: Transparent Ecommerce Pricing Drives Repeat B2B Purchases

Infographic transcript:

Transparency in pricing and product details is the number one factor in repeat B2B orders. Consistently lower prices is only the fourth most important. 85% of buyers want full transparency: “All relevant shipping fees, duties, and taxes, so they know what they are paying.” Giving customers a loyalty or rewards program that is equally transparent incentivizes repeat purchases all the more.

Another major advantage of B2B ecommerce stems from its public-facing nature.

Transparency in pricing and product details is the number one factor in repeat B2B purchases. Strangely enough, the same study found that “consistently lower prices” is only the fourth most determinate factor.

In other words, customers want to know the truth … and they want to know they’re getting the truth more than getting the lowest price. In fact, 85% of buyers want full transparency from merchants, which includes “all relevant shipping fees, duties, and taxes, so they know what they are paying.”

The advantages of B2B ecommerce lets you do exactly that. Front-loading your product description pages with retail pricing versus volume discounts — whether it’s within a password protected collection or wholesale channel — along with all applicable fees give buyers confidence as they research and as they return to buy.

In addition, giving customers a loyalty or rewards program that is equally transparent and easy to understand only incentivizes repeat purchases all the more.

9. B2B Buyers Want Easy Checkouts and Digital Customer Service

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 9: B2B Buyers Want Easy Checkouts and Digital Customer Service

Infographic transcript:

Customers are extremely or somewhat likely to switch brands if a company: Has a difficult purchasing or checkout process: 74%. Doesn’t personalize their communications: 52%. Lacks an easy-to-use mobile experience: 50%. 64% of B2C customers expect companies to respond and interact in real time 80% of B2B customers expect companies to respond and interact in real time.

B2B customers are extremely or somewhat likely to switch brands if a company …

  • Has a difficult purchasing or checkout process: 74%
  • Doesn’t personalize their communications: 52%
  • Lacks an easy-to-use mobile experience: 50%

Again — just like the other advantages of B2B — here we see the overlap between B2B and B2C expectations. When it comes to service, the need to make it easy is even more pronounced. While 64% of B2C customers expect companies to respond and interact in real time, 80% of B2B customers expect that same service.

Fortunately, ecommerce is uniquely suited to meet that demand. Online chat support leads to the highest customer satisfaction rating:

  1. Chat: 92%
  2. Voice: 88%
  3. Email: 85%
  4. Web form: 85%
  5. Facebook: 84%
  6. Twitter: 77%

10. Ecommerce Integrates Directly with B2B and Wholesale Systems

Advantages of B2B Ecommerce 10: Ecommerce Integrates Directly with B2B and Wholesale Systems

Infographic transcript:

B2B companies agree that ecommerce must integrate with other business critical tools: 75% Back-end systems. 74% Warehouse, shipping, and fulfillment 3PLs. 62% Social media platforms.

B2B companies agree that ecommerce must integrate with other business critical tools:

  • Back-end systems: 75%
  • Warehouse, shipping, and fulfillment 3PLs: 74% 
  • Social media platforms: 62% 

Shopify Plus simplifies B2B ecommerce through its Partners and ready-made APIs:

  • Inventory Management: OrderBot, Stitch Labs, Trade Gecko, Freestyle Solutions
  • Shipping & Fulfillment: Shipstation, Shipwire, Decimal
  • Enterprise Resource Planning: Netsuite, Dynamics
  • Electronic Data Interchange: nChannel, Virtual Logistics (VL Omni), Fisher Technology

All told, the advantages of B2B ecommerce and online wholesale have never been more ripe.

Ready to make the move?

Shopify Plus’ dedicated Wholesale Channel for B2B sales, Merchant Success Managers, and award-winning Agency Partners are just a few of the reasons our merchants are growing 120% year over year.


Connect with an ecommerce expert today

Special thanks to Venngage — an infographic maker meant for non-designers — for their help creating this infographic. If you’re looking to easily visualize content, take a look at their templates and sign up for a free account.

 

About the Author

Aaron Orendorff is a content marketer at Shopify Plus as well as a regular contributor to sites like Mashable, Lifehacker, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, The Huffington Post and more. You can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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