The benefits of ecommerce for B2BThe major benefit of B2B ecommerce for buyers is the 24/7 convenience of ordering, the visible stock availability (without having to make a phone call) and up-to-date order status. This all reduces costs for the supplier as there are less phone calls and online orders are cheaper to process. As a result, both sides gain. But it’s important to realise that these benefits are at their most powerful for low value orders where the cost of processing and tracking orders is high relative to the price of the order. Answering queries about £10k orders has a much lower relative cost than answering queries about £50 orders. Low value orders are less common with B2B, so B2C sites typically see more benefit from web ordering.
No stopping the tideThere is, however, another factor. Most trade buyers are also consumers. That means that they are also online B2C consumers. It’s only human nature that they expect at least the same level of service in their professional lives as their personal ones. Sure, B2B sites have lagged the market. It’s also true that there are benefits from online ordering for B2B websites, although these are sometimes limited. But expectations are powerful things. Already, B2B ecommerce is moving online. It’s highly likely that online ordering, along with online order tracking, will become a vital part of selling B2B in the future, if only to meet these expectations, and whatever the cost to the supplier. Chris Barling is co-founder and chairman of ecommerce software and EPOS systems specialist of SellerDeck.
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