Starting a business to business (B2B) e-commerce company is a true challenge for anyone aspiring for success or for organizations trying to expand themselves. To secure a successful outcome, it needs careful planning before the start of its implementation.
From website development to digital marketing, you need to have a plan in place that will ensure a smooth and seamless implementation and execution of all B2B activities. Identify a solid digital marketing plan early on and getting started should be easier.
If you are one of those people who want to start one, keep on reading as I share the secrets on how to start a B2B e-commerce business in 11 steps.
Your 11-Step Guide to Successful B2B e-Commerce
1. Identify your goals
There should always be clear goals of why you want to start something. Diving into B2B e-commerce is no exception. That said, think of the goals you want to achieve in starting your web store.
Start by assessing your needs and goals. Ask yourself some questions, which answers will help lead you to the direction you want to go.
- What goals am I aiming for?
- Are these goals realistic?
- Is it going to be profitable for the company?
- What are the benefits it could bring to the company?
- Do the goals complement the company’s strategy?
- Whose problems do I aim to solve and who is my target market?
Do not limit your questions to just the ones mentioned above. Be curious and explore all the questions that need to be answered, so you can clearly identify your main goals.
Some of the best e-commerce business goals can focus on further growing the current company’s revenue, decreasing overhead cost, saving time for the salesforce and support team, and improving customer experience and efficiency in delivering products and services.
2. Choose your niche
This is vital to building a B2B e-commerce business.
In choosing your niche, think about the market. Does it cover a wide target audience? While it may be easier to advertise and focus on a specific and small niche, it could only cover a small number of customers. This limits your reach.
You might also consider niches that promise to generate lucrative revenue. However, don’t simply settle for this. Ask yourself if they could benefit your business in the long run. Hence, choose niches that have a steady growth trend and stay evergreen. This way, you would gain continuous revenue and would secure the future of your business.
Nonetheless, if you are someone who already has their own business, start with what you have. From this, figure out how you can expand and think of other products you can offer to the market.
3. Look for problems prevalent in the market
Now, it is time to identify the problems being faced by the customers in the particular niche you chose. By addressing these problems, you are more likely to attract customers who are looking for solutions to these unsolved problems.
For example, many companies producing beauty products still receive a lot of complaints. Although most of them promise to use natural ingredients, there are still cases when customers discover synthetic products in the mix. If you can promise the same thing and deliver, you have a greater chance to secure your success in this industry.
You can then expect a good response to your business and more traffic to your website.
4. Prepare your KPIs to measure your goals’ growth
After identifying your goals, it is time to set your key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you monitor the gradual growth of your business and is a great way to tell whether you are meeting your goals or not.
Do remember to focus your KPIs on the list of goals you have. These may include:
- The amount of revenue the online store is generating
- The time it saves for the company’s workers
- Improvement of your customer’s purchase experience
- Decrease in customers’ purchase errors
- Its success in solving the customer’s current problems
Make sure the KPIs you set are realistic, measurable, and achievable.
5. Identify your customers and make a list
Since your business is in B2B, remember that your customers are not just anyone surfing the web. You are offering products to other companies. Because of this, it is advantageous to identify these companies.
Which businesses out there need you? What are their product preferences and their activities? What are their needs that your online store could provide?
Having a list of the prospects to whom you could send your invites is the next thing you should do to drive traffic to your e-Commerce store. To make the list of your prospects, do not forget to include their contact details. You can send them invitations through your company’s e-commerce portal. This would alert them of your existence and the service or product you are offering.
6. Appoint people to work on the company’s e-commerce plan
If you already have a company that is just planning to start an online shop, you need to build an e-commerce team that would manage this project. Appoint someone as a manager. Be sure to choose someone who has the authority, capability, and enthusiasm in leading a group.
It is also best to get your directors or anyone with higher authority onboard this project if you have a large company. By having people like them in your project who have the authority to approve proposals, the project will be able to move forward continuously.
As for your team, it is best to add members from various departments of your company. This would guarantee that the strategies your e-commerce business would use are supported by the insights of a variety of experts that covers all areas of your organization.
You can also get the expertise of people who know the industry. These include marketing consultants and other professionals in the field.
It could be a challenge for small businesses to form these groups. With a limited workforce, it could mean an additional task for those who would be chosen. Nonetheless, with pure dedication, smart time management, and more effort, they will succeed.
7. Get the organization involved and educate them
One of the reasons it’s recommended that your team includes members from various departments of the company is for proper information dissemination. This makes it easy to inform the entire company of the plans, changes, and benefits it could bring to them. Share to them the goals the company is aiming for.
Through the support of the whole organization, you would be able to gather more insights and suggestions that could benefit the project. It makes each worker feel involved and valued. This is also the time to answer questions regarding the project and address any doubts and resistance.
If you have external forces working for you, it is best to inform them as well. They could be writers, IT workers, and other external agencies. Remember that a successful e-commerce business involves even the smallest member of the organization.
8. Plan your MVP
What is your company’s minimum viable product (MVP)?
The answer will allow you to first study the success of your product in the market and to focus on the areas that need to be addressed for further product improvement in the future.
To plan your MVP, start by performing market research. This allows you to see if your products or services would fit the market need. After that, list the basic features and functions of your MVP that could capture attention. Choose the ones that would fit your goals and would satisfy your customer’s curiosity about the basics of the products.
However, make sure to only list the features that are meant for the first year of the product’s presentation as it is just for your MVP. Upon launching the product, you can now assess its success by gathering data using internal and external feedback.
Your external feedback comes from your customers. So, expect a wide variety of comments or reviews, depending on what you offer. It could come from a teenager, a law student, a regular mom, a doctor, or perhaps a celebrity. Nonetheless, regardless of their status, treat the feedback with honesty if you want to know the things missing in your MVP.
9. Secure quality content for your web store
The success of your online store doesn’t just rely on the product. The data that would communicate the product’s features to the customers is crucial as well. There is always a need to provide quality materials for your site, starting from the product descriptions to the images to the site’s appearance.
You should also learn how to start a blog so you can expound on your products and services further. Through your blog, you can explain the benefits, how your products work, and other information that will prove useful and helpful to your target audience.
Is it something your internal workforce could provide? If not, you might want to consider help from external vendors or suppliers. Choose someone who could do things like deciding the best structure and categories for your web store and producing clear and quality technical content.
10. Create your website
There are lots of e-commerce software builders and platforms out there that you can choose from. You can build your site from scratch on your own and there is no urgent need to build a grand one, especially if you’re just starting your store. It is ideal to opt for platforms in beta mode as the aim is to gather information using your MVP.
In choosing an e-commerce builder, do remember to choose the best B2B e-commerce platform for when you build your website. Since there are big differences with B2B when compared to B2C companies, you would also need a platform that can integrate a fully automated B2B payment solution.
When you need help with digital marketing, hire a digital marketing agency if you don’t have them in-house. This is especially helpful for small businesses that can’t afford to have an in-house marketing team.
11. Provide an optimal viewing experience to the market
To ensure the success of your B2B e-commerce business, be sure to provide your customers with the relevant details of your business using other devices. It is possible through the use of adaptive design technology that will customize your site’s content depending on the device used like phones and tablets.
This lets your prospects view your content regardless of the device they use and allows them to purchase your products whenever they want. Your business is equipped to earn at any time.
It is truly challenging to ensure the success of an online store. Follow the steps provided above on how to start a B2B e-commerce business and you will be off to a good start.
Your work is not done yet, however. With businesses varying in sizes, workforce, environment, and resources, you as a business owner and a leader should take the initiative of walking the extra miles to sustain its development.
Look for specific steps that would suit the needs of your business and don’t be afraid to customize your process. Like a website that needs regular tweaking to improve its search ranking, you also need to be ready to adjust and adapt to the changes in the virtual marketplace.
The steps above could certainly give your business the spark it needs to capture the market’s attention. Future success, however, lies in your leadership and consistent dedication in ensuring its continued prosperity.
What are some first steps to take in order to start a B2B Ecommerce business?
- Identify your goals
- Choose your niche
- Looks for problems prevalent in the market
- Prepare your KPIs to measure your goals' growth
- Identify your customers and make a list
- Appoint people to work on the company's e-commerce plan
- Get the organization involved and educate them
- Plan your MVP
- Secure quality content for your web store
- Create your website
- Provide an optimal viewing experience to the market