Wholesalers—or businesses that sell products in bulk, at a discount, to other businesses—are rapidly embracing eCommerce to improve the customer experience, streamline internal operations, and extend their reach.
Moving the buying and selling process online is still a relatively new idea for manufacturers, distributors, and other B2B companies—especially those that initiated their digital transformation out of necessity due to COVID-19. Over the past few years, buyer expectations have changed dramatically and innovative technologies like AI and IoT have presented new opportunities for wholesalers.
In other words, wholesale eCommerce is here to stay, and businesses that ignore this fact will almost certainly get left behind.
Let’s take a closer look at how B2B eCommerce has changed the wholesale business.
Modern B2B and B2C buyers have similar expectations
In the early days of eCommerce, the buyer population was made up of individual consumers, attracted to the convenience and competitive prices offered by services like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
In traditional B2B environments, the customer experience is largely influenced by the client’s relationship with a salesperson—whose day is filled with making phone calls, attending in-person meetings, and writing proposals.
For two decades, the internet became our culture’s new shopping mall. And as online stores became faster, simpler, and more accessible, consumer expectations shifted dramatically. Now, regardless of the product or service they’re buying, people expect companies to provide a frictionless customer experience—where they get what they want, when they want it.
While the majority of eCommerce sites are still B2C, an increasing number of B2B companies are adopting digital sales and marketing channels to maintain a competitive edge and match their customers’ expectations. After all, today’s wholesale buyers are the same people who go online to buy groceries, clothes, tools, gifts, pet food, and so on.
By providing an online experience that imitates the standard B2C journey, wholesalers allow their customers to save time, money, and effort.
Take industrial supply company Grainger for example. This brand’s B2B eCommerce site delivers a user experience that’s not too different from that of Walmart or Target. But it’s specifically designed for manufacturers, construction companies, and other wholesale buyers. The site makes it easy for customers to set up an account, find specific items, purchase products in bulk, check the status of their order, or connect with a salesperson if necessary.
There are many benefits of B2B eCommerce for wholesalers
Beyond the risk of falling behind the times, there are many reasons to invest in B2B eCommerce.
Here are some of the key benefits wholesalers experience when effectively building, maintaining, and optimizing their digital sales and marketing channels.
- Enhancing the client experience: With a user-centric, responsive, self-service sales portal, your customers can quickly and easily find products and make purchases from their desktop or mobile device—and without the help of a sales representative. This level of user convenience promotes higher sales, fewer customer service requests, and stronger client relationships over time.
- Attracting more customers: An effective omnichannel B2B eCommerce strategy will help your brand reach customers around the world via its website, social media platforms, and digital marketplaces.
- Automating manual processes: By implementing the right tools, you can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks in domains like inventory management, order fulfillment, and billing—resulting in higher productivity and efficiency across teams.
- Leveraging data: Through data analytics, you can get to know your customers better by seeing how they interact with the sales portal. Collecting, centralizing, and analyzing user data enables smarter decisions when it comes to optimizing the website, developing new products, sharpening sales and marketing strategies, and so on.
- Lowering costs: Because your buyers won’t require as much assistance from sales or customer service representatives, B2B eCommerce allows you to cut down on payroll costs.
B2B eCommerce platforms are becoming more advanced
To start selling products online, your wholesale business will need a B2B eCommerce platform that matches its unique goals and requirements. Industry-leading platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are a good place to start, as they regularly deploy new features and functionality aimed at optimizing online B2B stores—both on the front and back end.
When evaluating B2B eCommerce platforms, it’s important to consider the following:
- Do the platform’s costs align with your project’s budget? This will depend on how big your business is, how long it takes to set up the website, who will be maintaining the site, and a variety of other factors.
- Can the platform integrate with other critical third-party applications, like your business’ ERP, CRM, CMS, and so on? This is imperative for establishing smooth workflows and data communication between different teams and systems.
- Does the platform offer modern search and browsing capabilities? This will play an important role in streamlining the buyer experience, especially if your business offers many different products and variants.
- Is the platform designed to enable SEO and other content marketing strategies? Responsive web pages, customizable URL structures, and optimized content are essential when it comes to securing high rankings in search engines.
- Does the platform support a wide range of payment gateways and options? Providing the ability to use different payment methods and currencies will help reduce friction in your buyer journey.
Getting started with wholesale eCommerce
When your wholesale business is ready to embrace B2B eCommerce or modernize its existing technology stack, Codal is here to help.
Our team has years of experience building B2B portals, marketing websites, and internal web applications for wholesalers across all industries. In that time, we’ve worked with many cutting-edge technologies and established partnerships with the most innovative service providers in the game.
Codal is a Certified Shopify Plus Partner and Elite BigCommerce Partner, which means we regularly leverage these platforms to create superior eCommerce solutions for our clients.
Our team will design, develop, test, and deploy elegant digital solutions for your wholesale business, enabling it to thrive in the increasingly-competitive eCommerce landscape.
Interested in learning more about how Codal uses data-driven design to create B2B eCommerce experiences that strengthen client engagement, cut costs, and increase revenue? Get in touch with a member of our team today!