B2B ecommerce is short for business to business electronic commerce. It refers to the selling of products and services between businesses through an online sales portal. Basically, a business makes its client’s business thrive by directing all its resources to make processes simpler and faster – to boost efficiency, productivity, and profitability. It requires a blend of design, user experience, strategic understanding of businesses, marketing, and software development skills to do it well.
Here are three key ways that B2B ecommerce is changing supply chain management and operations.
- B2B eCommerce connects trading partners. In this context, trading partners include consumers, suppliers and vendors. B2B eCommerce makes it easier for these involved parties to communicate with one another. Businesses are able to discern customer demands and connect them with the previously severed parts of the supply chain. For instance, a retailer expects high quality products from the supplier based on the data the latter provided. The same data will then be passed on to the manufacturer to ensure satisfaction.
- B2B eCommerce promotes transparency in the supply chain. B2B eCommerce fosters accurate and real-time data sharing by monitoring customer behavior as they interact in online portals. For instance, customers do not want to find out that a product is sold out until they check out. This is the fastest way to make customers unhappy, abandon their carts or cancel their orders. Product availability should be displayed so customers will know exactly what they are getting into if they choose to proceed with the purchase.
- Automation is the hallmark of B2B eCommerce. Businesses that leverage B2B eCommerce decrease order processing costs by about 30%. Flows of orders, processing and multiple business partners require an integrated eCommerce platform. A B2B eCommerce platform automatically synchronizes processes and takes over support operations to reduce if not completely eliminate human errors. It seamlessly transfers information among trading partners with less time spent on manual order entry.
While these changes are significant, there are disadvantages that need to be considered. B2B has a limited market. Many can enumerate 10 or more B2B companies, but they cannot name a few more B2B enterprises after Alibaba. This limited numbers make every lead valuable and a single loss devastating. Other disadvantages include long purchase decision time and an inverted power structure. B2b sales cycle involves multiple decision makers and stakeholders with total decision times that could stretch to months. Moreover, it requires a certain level of flexibility to meet customization demands of buyers.
B2B ecommerce has great impact on supply chain management and operations. It is changing the traditional approach to do business and is making previously inaccessible individuals cultivate an online presence.
Click here to find out why investing in B2B ecommerce is paramount to your business.