Gartner estimates “75% of B2B procurement spending will happen via online marketplaces within the next five years”. The influx of millennials at decision-making positions has led to a surge in online B2B spending. 79% of millennials expect B2B sellers to use e-commerce platforms for offering a personalized buying experience.
Three-quarters of millennials are handling business procurement, which makes up for a huge amount of online transactions and B2B marketplaces cannot retain it without rendering contemporary challenges obsolete.
B2B Vs B2C: What are the key differences?
The crucial differences between B2B and B2C e-commerce boil down to one thing i.e customers. While the B2B and B2C customer journey resemble a lot but both purchase for thoroughly different reasons. Understanding the customer psyche and requirements is the key to creating a custom e-commerce offering that wins you, the customer. Let’s traverse through the key differences between B2B and B2C customers.
The Psyche Differences: B2B and B2C customers think differently, while B2C customers want to complete their journey from “Buy Now” to “Thank You for Shopping with Us” faster, B2B customers want to slow down, look at the varied nuances before making a purchase.
Also, B2C customers shop independently whereas B2B customers have to develop sync between varied stakeholders before making a purchase.
Retention marketing Vs Incentive Marketing: B2C customers are able to make an instant decision because they look for features like color, design, size or affordability, which can be influenced by incentive marketing. With B2B customers, decision making takes longer and involves varied other stakeholders, by focusing on retention and offering logistics support, post-sale support, and affordable credit line, marketplaces can retain customers for a longer period of time.
The Checkout Process: B2C marketplaces optimize the checkout process to stop leaks and reduce cart abandonment rate whereas B2B marketplaces need to make it more informative. Displaying the seller’s contact info, facilitating chat options and ensuring the smoother transition from one phase to another is the key for B2B. Adding “request for demo” and “get a call” are perhaps tools that improve the chances of conversion.
B2B E-commerce Challenges & Solutions
Increasing return rates and frauds by customers are the prevalent challenges of B2C whereas B2B marketplaces are constantly battling to offer huge credit lines and manage freight shipments.
Some of the biggest challenges faced by B2B includes
1. Managing Multiple Sellers on the Platform
The likes of Apple, General Motor, Phillips and Ford have built their B2B e-commerce platform to assist businesses to procure products in bulk. Since Apple and Phillips are standalone B2B sites, where they are the manufacturer and seller, they easily cater to the varied demands of customers.
B2B marketplaces are having a tough time managing sellers because the crowd consists of manufacturers, resellers, and wholesalers in varying proportions. Seller management includes straining tasks like categorization, prioritization of services and seller support.
Challenges of Seller Management
- Identifying and separating genuine sellers from the crowd of unauthorized sellers
- Ensuring fair selling opportunity for every seller
- Ensuring easier onboarding for sellers
- Offering requisite support to the seller in case of frauds by customers
B2B marketplaces can put a set of checks in place to ensure only genuine and authorized sellers are provided with an opportunity to sell on their platform. Some of the checks that every B2B marketplace should put in place include:
Document verification: By asking sellers to submit their letter of authorization or dealership certificate, marketplaces can protect their platforms from fake sellers.
Manual Checks: B2B marketplaces like Alibaba have put a manual check procedure in place. After conducting a manual check of products, Alibaba labels sellers as Gold and Gold Plus, which help consumers differentiate between genuine and fake sellers.
2. Offering Bulk Deal Pricing for Customers
B2C marketplaces rely on incentive marketing to drive sales hence products on these platforms are always at the best price. On the contrary, B2B marketplaces offer pricing based on the client’s requirement.
Bulk deal pricing is perhaps the biggest challenge B2B marketplaces face. Many clients go away because they cannot find the perfect quote for their bulk order. B2B players are caught in a loop here because revealing the cheapest seller will create unfair selling opportunities for other sellers.
Bulk deal pricing is a prevalent challenge and it needs to be addressed with shrewd use of technology.
Challenges with Bulk Deal Pricing
- Lack of data of sellers willing to handle orders over a specific number
- Lack of information related to logistics and handling charges for quoting a final price
- No availability of data related to time for processing bulk orders
B2B marketplaces can rely on state-of-the-art technology and methodologies to create a system that collects requisite information from sellers. Based on the collected information, marketplaces can recommend sellers who can handle bulk orders. The marketplace can also integrate filters through which buyers can add their requirements and receive seller suggestions accordingly.
3. Duplicate Content across the Platform
The B2B seller crowd includes manufacturers, wholesalers, and resellers. Every manufacturer provides wholesalers and resellers with content (images and product description) that educates people about the product. When creating an online catalog, the manufacturer, wholesaler, and reseller end up using the same content, which leads to multiple issues like increased return rates, brand interference, and dipping customer experience.
In some cases, the same manufacturer supplies products to multiple brands. Brands change the name of the company and use the same content for creating an online catalog, which leads to duplicate content issues.
69% of B2B marketplaces say they expect to stop printing paper catalogs within 5 years. With the digital catalog, issues like duplicate or low-quality content need to be identified and removed in the very first stage.
How duplicate content impacts the marketplace?
It deprives genuine sellers of the opportunity: By using a copied product description, unauthorized sellers can easily convince users to buy from them and deprive genuine sellers of the opportunity. Unauthorized sellers can also acquire higher on-site search rankings with the help of copied content.
Brand Interference: A person looking for a genuine lunchbox will be shown products from the unauthorized seller with imitated products because he or she has copied the product description of genuine products. Brand interference impacts both genuine sellers as well as the marketplace because the user ends up buying products from an unauthorized seller and later files for return.
Be it a B2C or a B2B marketplace, they can contain impacts of duplicate content by putting a set of checks in place. With catalog quality checks, marketplaces can ensure that only genuine sellers with unique content are able to list their products on the platform.
Here’s how it can be done
Establish a set of rules: when it comes to product images to ensure that all images are:
- Of high quality adhering to internal and international guidelines
- Free of logos
- Displayed on a white background
- Are free of contact details
List products with unique content: No matter whether it is a reseller or a wholesaler, they must furnish unique product descriptions to obtain an opportunity to sell. By ensuring no duplicate content is published on the site, marketplaces can help sellers acquire:
- Better search engine rankings
- Customers that pay attention to the details
- Higher rating because products won’t be returned
4. Handling Credit Line Requests from Buyers
B2C marketplaces have introduced in-house “buy now pay later” features to influence customers into spending more. Amazon and Flipkart are running Amazon Pay EMI and Flipkart Pay Later to stop customers from abandoning carts. These services require no credit card, these are the line of credit provided by marketplaces themselves. The credit limit is dependent upon the purchase history of customers.
The dilemma with B2B is that transactions are very high in volume and it is impossible for both parties to shell out such money in one instance. Buyers generally request a period of 30 to 90 days for repayment. Some buyers request a grace period of up to 180 based on the size of orders.
Often marketplaces are funded organizations function on thin ice with investors. Most marketplaces have no funds to extend a credit line to buyers. Also, the sellers look up to the marketplaces for regular payments.
A study shows offering credit lines leads to a 35% increase in average order value and can also lead to a 100% increase in reorders. Offering credit lines helps organizations pay for the product over a period of time without impacting the core processes.
B2B marketplaces can put in a system, which determines the creditworthiness of the buyers and offers them with the required grace period. Collaborating with Fintech organizations like B2C marketplaces to offer a line of credit to worth customers.
Note: Amazon Pay EMI is offering card-less credit by getting in collaboration with Emerging Payments. Similarly, Flipkart’s card-less credit is powered by IDFC Bank.
5. Handling High-Volume Shipments
The average order values for B2B were $491 in comparison to $147 for B2C in 2017, which means users buy in bulk from B2B. Since it is organizations and businesses with a hundred thousand employees who buy from the B2B site the volume is generally bigger.
On B2B marketplaces, organizations often do transactions that require freight shipments. With the increasing size of the order the trouble of logistics increases. Marketplaces can easily ship smaller orders through road transport and ensure faster delivery but handling orders that require freight shipment is perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by B2B today.
B2C marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart have established logistics companies as their subsidiary. These marketplaces acquired existing logistics companies and rebranded them to meet the growing needs of fast and reliable delivery.
B2B marketplaces with deep-pockets can simplify their logistics either by creating a logistics company from scratch or by acquiring one. For the nascent B2B players, outsourcing seems to be a good option. By letting a team of professionals handle logistics, B2B marketplaces can focus on other important aspects of business development.
6. Compliances for Keeping Customer Data Secure
In 2020, $3.92 million is the average cost of a data breach. With e-commerce and Fintech start-ups being the prime target of hackers because of the humongous cardholders’ data they store, abiding by varied compliances becomes necessary.
Certification and compliances help marketplaces ensure that all personal data of a user is protected and stored behind a safe wall. Compliances also boost customers’ confidence and allow them to shop without fear of getting their data accessed by unauthorized personnel.
Some of the impacts of failing compliances include
- A hefty fine imposed by varied councils and governments
- Bad reputation leading to the closure of the business
- Misuse of your platform for carrying out funding for trafficking and terrorism
B2B marketplaces can avoid fines and a bad name by acquiring a set of compliances and certifications like:
PCI DSS: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ensures that all cardholders’ data are safe and secure from unauthorized access. By encrypting all data before it is transported over a network, PCI DSS compliance protects the personal data of online shoppers.
KYC: Know Your Compliance is one of the must compliances because it helps governments identify people who use online platforms for funding terrorism and trafficking. Under this compliance, businesses are required to report all kinds of bulk and suspicious transaction to the government.
ISO: ISO family includes a list of certifications that prepares businesses for a safer tomorrow.
Here’s how getting varied ISO certification helps
- Ensures that your employees are abiding by secure practices
- Allow third-parties to trust your APIs and integrate with their platform
- Build an incomparable reputation in professionalism
Earlier, manufacturers were not concerned with how their products are presented or sold, their concerns were limited to the supply chain. With B2B in trend, manufacturers are coaxed to adopt Amazon’s style of presentation to enamor customers. Today, B2B marketplaces are doubling as the sales representative for these manufacturers.
By getting to the core of challenges and solving them, B2B marketplaces can create a platform where manufacturers can get into business directly with the organization. One such platform will benefit everyone the manufacturer, procurer, and the marketplace.