Can e-Commerce in the B2B segment change the balance of power in your market

16 October 2016   |    Nikita Pazin   |   Business

Recently, we have been hearing more and more questions about e-commerce in the B2B sphere. This is quite natural, because there are three factors at once. First , after saturation of the main market segments with online stores, the majority of users appreciated the convenience of making purchases online and online, the second - most companies have already used the main traditional means of increasing market share, and the third - they were technologically ready to work under the new rules. Companies specializing in the trade of consumables and materials for production are still interested in this area. As I wrote above, each player has a certain niche, and fight for the customer at the service level. This is the main difference from solutions designed for an ordinary private buyer. If ordinary online stores pay more attention to the presentation of the product and its price, and the purchase process takes a back seat, then in corporate solutions, it is the purchase process and related operations that require the most attention. And this is not the only difference.

The main difference is in the audience. As a rule, modern trading companies already have websites with a product catalog, and some even have a personal account that allows their clients to perform certain routine operations. What should we call e-commerce a B2B project? Such projects have the following characteristics:

  • The online store is integrated into the company's business processes. Updating the catalog, placing orders, shipping, monitoring payment for orders, etc. occurs automatically and requires only monitoring. Often, integration with CRM is also implemented.
  • Most of the traditional interaction with the client has been moved online, which reduces the company's costs. For example, the customer himself is responsible for creating orders, and he can also get all the current information about his order in his personal account. The load on managers is reduced many times. Document flow is also transferred to your personal account. All necessary documents can be downloaded and printed by the user. The load on the accounting Department is reduced.
  • It is possible to work individually with each client. In addition to traditional volume discounts, individual discounts, and so on, you can analyze the actions of each customer and offer the most popular products or services. For fairly important clients, it is possible to create their personal account on a third-level domain with the Analytics system code installed separately.
  • The client is offered integration mechanisms. In addition to the traditional API for inventory balances and prices, such projects seek to offer software solutions that allow them to integrate into their client's business process.for example, when planning to fill out a production warehouse, an application can be generated in the client's accounting system and automatically get to the online store.
  • And the last and not the most obvious, but very important aspect - different employees with different access rights to information can interact with the company on behalf of the client.

The implementation of all these requirements imposes quite serious requirements on the company's information system and the efficiency of its business processes. Working with clients of different scales in such conditions also poses a certain challenge to the flexibility of the company itself. Because in the B2B segment, it is often more likely to work with 10 large clients than with two hundred small ones. The passage of orders and those from the other has to do with minimal manual intervention. This problem is very similar to the problem of organizing traffic with a complex interchange of trucks and cars - if everyone goes to the intersection, the average speed will decrease, if cars go to the designated lane, then the trucks will quickly form a traffic jam. And if you add motorcyclists and bicyclists, the task will increase many times.

In contrast to traditional online stores, the activities of which can sometimes be taken out as an independent project that exists simultaneously with an offline business. A B2B project requires full integration into all company departments and existing business processes. So what can the implementation of such a project bring?: thanks to the development of the functions of the personal account, it is possible to attract new customers or poach them from a competitor. In other words, the whole conversation boils down to just two things - reducing costs and providing new services for customers.

But, unfortunately, the issues of finding customers and attracting them will mostly be solved by traditional methods, since customers start looking for a new supplier only in two cases - if they are no longer satisfied with working with them, or if there are new needs that the current supplier cannot cover.

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