One of the biggest challenges that today’s supplier face is B2B e-commerce, also known as Business to business electronic commerce.

Today’s B2B’s customer expectations are forcing what was once a constant industry to adapt to changing times in order to keep up with customers. Unlike before when customers would be satisfied with paper catalogs and placing orders in person or over the phone, the modern B2B customer wants to browse the items they want online and “click” to buy. They want more control and understanding over their experience as a buyer. It is for these reasons that B2B businesses should consider developing and executing a B2B e-commerce strategy.

What is B2B e-commerce?

A B2B e-commerce model focuses on providing products or services directly to other businesses over a computer network such as the internet where transactions and terms of sale are done. In any case, this may involve either an e-commerce marketplace where buyers and sellers come together or a portal- a website. While most of the B2B businesses in e-commerce are service providers, you will find office furniture, software, companies, document hosting companies, supply companies and a host of other e-commerce business models under B2B e-commerce.

How does B2B E-business work?

Business to business e-commerce works in the same manner as any other B2B model. The main goal of B2B e-commerce is to connect companies to their distributors, suppliers and other parts of the supply chain through electronic communication such as internet, email, and extranet. Strong customer relationships are crucial to a successful B2B e-commerce business.

Although this business model takes place over the internet, it goes beyond automated ordering systems and more into putting emphasis on relationships and less on transactions. A relationship centered B2B e-commerce business addresses more multifaceted transactions, multi-party deals, and comprehensive interactions, creating long-term business clients. Here are some key tips for companies looking to sell to other businesses using e-commerce:

1. Know your customer

Today’s savvy B2B customer is moving away from costly and time-consuming fax/mail orders, sales calls, and telephone exchanges towards e-commerce conveniences like 24/7 access, detailed and graphic rich websites, instant automated purchasing, flexible payment terms, customer reviews and more. You no longer have to contact potential customers for sale. Instead, they will come to you through your website. You, therefore, need to study your customer’s preferences to capture and build a successful and lasting B2B sales channel. Try to offer excellent customer service and technology along with functionality as well as some traditional touches to close a sale.

2. Enable interaction with the customer first, followed by transaction

Enabling communication first produces more value than closing a deal instantly. This will help you identify your potential clients' product specification and find out if they need further consultation beyond what is found in your FAQ or within the user review section.

Brainstorming sessions can be an excellent way to drive innovation.

3. Map the customer’s journey

The next step is to map your customer’s journey. This includes their buying behaviors and how they utilize different selling channels. When you understand your their commonalities in the buying journey, you will be better placed to create strategic tactics in prioritizing sales and marketing programs for various channels.

4. Match the buying phases with channels

Being able to understand when a customer progresses along their journey will help you direct the right effort to increase conversion rates. Know how prospects and existing clients browse and research products. Find out how they use online reviews, how they react to live customer service and how they handle their renewals and reordering. With this information, you can better direct them towards the channel best suited to closing deals.

5. Optimize revenue in every channel

Once you reach this point, you will be selling to multiple channels. Hence, you need to come up with a reliable multichannel management platform to help you manage your sales processes by linking all your sales channels. This will help you streamline your operations, increase your productivity and eliminate the time and money you would have spent on manual processes.

6. Mobile optimization

More B2B buyers are adopting mobile devices for researching and placing orders. It is crucial that you create a mobile-responsive website with the ability of multiple B2B purchases to deliver a satisfactory customer experience.

7. Payment options

Various studies indicate that lack of a payment option is one of the primary reasons why customers abandon their online shopping cart. Make sure that your e-commerce platform supports a variety of payment gateways. Other than accepting credit and debit cards, also integrate other alternative payment options such as Amazon Pay, Google Wallet, and PayPal. Additionally, consider offering extended credit periods and the ability to process partial or multiple payments to make doing business with you even more convenient.

Catering to your customer's needs and creating a convenient and seamless customer experience is key to increasing sales and revenue for your B2B e-commerce business. B2B e-commerce gives you the ability to get bids and interact with multiple manufacturers and suppliers. Take advantage of these features instead of waiting for the same company repeatedly.