A few months back, we dove into the advantages of using Amazon and eBay’s B2B marketplace platforms to broaden your company’s reach and increase your overall sales numbers.
(Note: There are certainly other marketplace platforms to check out, as well.)
However, that last article admittedly glances over a major issue you’re almost bound to encounter when entering any of these marketplaces:
While traditional B2B companies have been much slower to dive into the e-commerce world than their B2C counterparts, that trend is currently undergoing a huge shift. According to data collected by Avatar, the world of B2B e-commerce is expected to grow from $855 billion in 2016 to $1.13 trillion by 2020 - in the US alone. Worldwide, the industry will B2B sales via e-commerce transaction are expected to hit $6.7 trillion by 2020.
On the one hand, this means you’ll undoubtedly have numerous opportunities to reach a huge audience of eager customers. On the other, you’re definitely not going to be the only provider out there.
All this being said, it’s clear you’re going to need to do something to make your brand stand out
How to Get Your Brand Noticed on B2B Marketplaces
If you’re just getting started in the world of e-commerce - or if your past efforts to do so have fallen short of your expectations - it’s easy to be intimidated by the prospect of diving in amongst a sea of competitors who seem to know exactly what they’re doing.
Don’t worry. You already know much more than you think you do.
Though the medium may be different from the traditional wholesale B2B channels you’re used to using, the fundamentals remain the same. Essentially, your goal is to optimize two areas:
- The logistical aspects of your online hub
- Your customers’ overall experience with your brand
Let’s take a look at how you can get this done.
Optimize Site Logistics
One of the perks of using an existing online marketplace platform is that you don’t need to worry about creating a website from scratch; the layout, navigation, and all other technical aspects of website design are taken care of by the host company.
However, there are still certain aspects of your online hub that you will be responsible for. These areas, of course, are the ones you want to focus heavily on in order to set your brand apart from the competition.
The main area of consideration, here, is the way in which you present the products you offer for sale. Essentially, you need to give potential customers as much information as you possibly can on your product pages - and do so as succinctly as possible.
This information includes (but is not limited to):
- Product title
- Detailed product description
- Typical uses for the product
- Customer reviews and commentary
Not only will providing such information upfront make potential customers more likely to move forward with the purchasing process (as they won’t need to take the extra step of “contacting you for more information”), but it will also optimize your product page’s SEO (since you’ll be using related terms throughout the page).
Another major area to focus on is the way in which you present your products visually. Simply put: your product photos could make or break your potential customers’ view of not just the product in question, but your brand as a whole.
That being said, you don’t want to leave your product photographs as an afterthought. There are a number of ways to optimize product photos, but for the sake of brevity, we can boil the advice down to the following:
- Use a combination of studio and action shots (where applicable)
- Provide photos taken from numerous angles and distances
- Take the time to learn how different lenses, lighting, and other factors affect your photographs
Again, the goal here is to frontload potential customers with information about the products you offer so they don’t have to spend excess time and energy figuring everything out on their own. In turn, if they do need to reach out to a representative of your company, they’ll be much further along in their buyer’s journey when they do so.
Optimize the Customer Experience
I’m going to go out on a limb and say you probably know how vital CX is regarding attracting - and maintaining - a loyal customer base.
Surprisingly, when it comes to B2B e-commerce, this isn’t exactly the norm. For a variety of reasons, the online experience for many B2B consumers simply doesn’t match up to the offline experience provided by the very same companies.
As we said earlier: the fundamentals haven’t changed. Yes, e-commerce marketplaces allow your B2B company to expand your reach and streamline certain aspects of your customers’ journey - but it absolutely cannot replace other aspects of your service.
In other words, you can’t take a “set it and forget it” approach to your e-commerce initiatives and expect customers to flock to your online store.
Though you can now provide more information upfront than ever before, you still need to be available to give more info to your customers upon request.
Though you can use automation and other technology to optimize baseline pricing and other terms of transactions, you’ll typically still need to provide individual attention to your clients - especially your brand new ones - to determine how you can best meet their needs
And, when contingencies arise (such as complaints or other problems), you definitely need to be available to mitigate the issue, or your complaining customers will quickly defect directly to a competing provider.
Essentially, your presence on a B2B marketplace is meant to streamline only those processes that don’t require human-to-human contact between your company and your customers.
With that said, there certainly are aspects of the B2B transaction that will always require such contact. Keep these points in mind, and you’ll all but ensure a positive experience for your new e-commerce customers.
As we alluded to earlier, the B2B world is slowly but surely coming to the realization that e-commerce as a platform is not only here to stay, but can be an incredible boon for companies that decide to hop on board.
However, it’s not simply enough to be present on these platforms. As is always the case regardless of the platform, focusing on providing your customers with the best experience they could possibly expect is the best way to keep them coming back for more.