The B2B online store guide: advantages, requirements and best practice

11.04.2023
by Meike Müller
E-Commerce
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Are you already in the B2B business and now considering entering the world of e-commerce with your company? Or maybe you're still at the very beginning and are just starting your B2B business. No matter what your starting position is, in this article you will find all the important information for creating a B2B online store.

Reading time 5 min

What to expect in this article:
  1. What is a B2B online store?
  2. B2B: online or offline?
    1. The advantages of a B2B online shop
  3. What types of B2B online stores can you run?
  4. Step by step to your B2B store
    1. Your goals for your B2B store
    2. Finding target groups if you don't have any yet
    3. Planning the structure of your online shop
    4. A store system that suits your company
    5. Legal and tax requirements
    6. Customer support
    7. Marketing methods
    8. Measuring success
  5. Must haves: What does a good B2B online store need?
    1. The presentation of the products
    2. The prices in the B2B store
    3. Functional user administration
    4. Information in the customer portal
    5. Order functions for business customers
  6. Best practice: An example of a good B2B store
  7. Our conclusion
  8. FAQ
    1. How do you get B2B customers?
    2. What products and services are offered in B2B business, for example
    3. Which tools can be used for customer retention in the B2B sector?
    4. What is a quick order?
    5. What role does search engine optimization play for a B2B online store?
    6. What is Orocommerce?
    7. What is Spryker?
    8. What sales channels and distribution channels are there in the B2B sector?
    9. What is a punchout?
    10. Is it worthwhile for a wholesaler to create a B2B store?

What is a B2B online store?

A B2B store is aimed at companies and not private buyers. The abbreviation B2B stands for business-to-business. A company's products and services are sold to other companies online. For this reason, the net price is usually displayed directly in the online store, as VAT is refunded for most business customers. It is important for customers to be able to enter their VAT identification number directly in the B2B store.

B2B: online or offline?

B2B retailers are often faced with the challenge of whether they want to sell their products to their customers online or offline. After all, both business models have their advantages and disadvantages. Offline, companies can advise their customers with direct contact in their store, for example. More complicated products in particular require an individual presentation and introduction. In the same way, individual wishes can also be better discussed. Potential customers can be met at presentations and trade fairs, but also through telephone canvassing. The emotional level is crucial here. Of course, the range of the store is also limited. There are also high fixed costs for renting a store and employing staff on site. This, in turn, is the great advantage of a B2B online store, which can be operated at comparatively low cost. A wide reach can be established with an online store. It is also possible to sell and ship abroad. An online store can also have advantages for customers. They don't have to travel, saving them time and money. Of course, you can operate both a brick-and-mortar store and an online store for your B2B business in order to increase your reach as much as possible and let customers decide whether they like the brick-and-mortar store better or whether they prefer to find out about and buy your products online.

The advantages of a B2B online shop

We have summarized the advantages for your B2B online store here:

  • Wide reach: With an online store in the B2B sector, you can reach a larger number of customers directly. The reach is not just limited to the local or regional market.
  • 24/7 shopping: Customers also have the opportunity to find out about the range and buy the products they need at any time of day, every day of the week. They do not have to take opening hours and public holidays into account.
  • Individual offers: By running an online store, you have the opportunity to collect individual customer data and can then create personalized offers that suit your target group. You can also ask for customer feedback after the purchase and thus improve your offer.
  • Cost savings: Operating a store can save both rental costs and personnel costs.

What types of B2B online stores can you operate?

If you decide to operate a B2B store, you have the option of doing so in three different ways. You can choose between a mixed B2B and B2C store, a wholesale sales channel or a pure B2B online store.

With a mixed B2B and B2C online store, you can sell to business and private customers. However, the challenge here is to correctly implement the requirements of the different target groups. This can already be seen in the price, as private customers require gross prices. The net price is usually displayed for business customers. The technology and design of your online store must therefore be well thought out.

A so-called wholesale channel is usually also suitable for wholesalers. Prices, discounts, minimum orders, etc. are set there in a similar way to another store. However, it is not a direct order when a customer fills in the desired quantity etc., but only a draft. You can then make your customer an individualized offer that takes into account the selected quantity and suggests suitable quantity discounts, etc.

In a normal B2B store, you concentrate solely on the target group of companies. You don't have to consider anything that is important for private buyers. This allows you to focus entirely on business-to-business requirements when designing and offering your products. You also need to ask for the VAT identification number or proof of the customer's trade to ensure that only business customers buy from you.

Step by step to your B2B store with these questions

Before you create your own B2B store, you should answer a few questions that are important for its creation. This will also help you find out what type of B2B store is right for you and what the structure, design and functionality of your online store should be like.

1. your goals for your B2B store

It is of course important that you know what your goals are before you create your B2B online store. It is also important to know whether you are just starting your business or whether you already have a stationary business. You should then consider the following questions regarding your objectives: Do you want to generate higher sales or tackle the issue of acquiring new customers? Do you want to increase customer loyalty?

2. find a target group if you don't have one yet

In order to design your B2B store correctly and attractively, you should first think about which target group you want to reach with your products if you haven't already done so. Who or which company will be interested in your products or services? You can determine this based on organizational characteristics such as company size or location, but also on economic characteristics such as finances, inventory and liquidity. The general purchasing behavior and purchasing times also play a role. Of course, there are always people behind a company who are responsible for purchasing for your company. You should also consider the decision-makers in this company when analyzing your target group.

3. planning the structure of your online shop

Once you have defined your goals and target group, you can plan the structure of your online store. Of course, this assumes that you already know your product range. A user-friendly design that suits your target group is important for the structure of your online store. Build in clear navigation so that your customers can quickly find what they are looking for. A good selection of payment and shipping methods is also important so that business customers can pay using their preferred payment method and receive their products quickly. You should also think about different functions that you would like to include, such as a search function or an order history.

4. a store system that suits your company

You can also use a store system to implement a successful B2B online store. A store system is software that allows you to create an online store relatively easily. Many functions are usually already available for you to choose from. In another article, we have selected and compared ten different store systems for B2B business. Take a look if you want to find the perfect store system for your B2B store.

5 Legal and tax requirements

When you open a B2B online store, there are also many legal and tax requirements that need to be met. These include the legal form of your company, data protection with regard to customer data, your legal notice and terms and conditions, as well as issues such as trademark law and taxes, depending on the country you are selling in.

6. customer support

There can always be queries and problems. But how should customers be able to get in touch with you? Do you need telephone support or is email support enough? When are your office hours and how quickly will customers get an answer to their query?

7. marketing methods

This step only takes place once your store is practically up and running, but thinking about marketing issues can never happen soon enough. After all, you want to reach customers. There are so many different options here. See what suits your niche and can be implemented well in your team.

8. measuring success

Measuring success is also only possible once customers can visit your B2B store. Here you can use free tools such as Google Analytics, but many store systems also offer direct options for measuring your success.

What does a good B2B online store need?

Of course, it is important that you tailor your B2B online store precisely to your target group. You should scrutinize this in every detail, whether it's the design, the product selection or the checkout process. We have summarized what you should generally pay attention to in your B2B online store so that it is tailored to business customers in our must-haves:

The presentation of the products

When presenting your product range or services, you should make sure that all available information is visible in your online store. This is because business customers are usually interested in far more details than private customers. For example, provide information on all technical specifications and certifications, if available. Above all, packaging units with all details about size units, pallets and boxes are necessary. It is even better if business customers also have the option of downloading the product information as a PDF. You should also post good product photos and, even better, create product videos and integrate them into your B2B online store. Filter options in the product search are also essential so that your customers can quickly find what they are looking for. Online business is also international. Think about whether you offer your online store directly in multiple languages and have international shipping options available.

Prices in the B2B store

For your prices in the online store, there are several functions in the B2B sector that can be helpful for your success. Firstly, you should of course also display your prices in net terms, as this is common in business-to-business. Secondly, customer-specific price scales are also helpful to encourage customers to make larger purchases. This allows you to set discounts based on volume or individual contracts or agreements.

Feature-rich user administration

Well thought-out user administration makes your own work easier and saves you time. Of course, this is also an advantage for your customers. They can make and change various settings themselves. For example, they can set a different delivery and billing address, but they can also set a contact person from their company in your online store. You or your employees can contact this person if there are any queries or special offers.

Information in the customer portal

Of course, your customers also want to know everything about their orders. That's why you need to create a clear customer portal that contains all information about current and past orders. This includes invoices, delivery bills and shipment tracking for the latest order. Ideally, customers can also download everything they need directly from here. You should also provide the option to create returns or place repeat orders here.

The ordering functions for business customers

It is not only better for your customers, but also for you that the order runs smoothly and can be completed as quickly as possible. After all, a conversion should not be interrupted by a time-consuming ordering process. A good tip is to incorporate a quick order function directly. This allows your customers to order their desired products with just a few clicks. Another plus point is that you offer interfaces that transfer directly ordered products to your customers' merchandise management system (Wawi). This saves your customers a lot of work.

Of course, you should also offer various payment methods so that your customers can pay using their preferred payment method.

Best practice: An example of a good B2B store

As an online store agency, we at EXWE have already implemented several B2B stores. We would like to introduce you to one of these projects. These are the B2B stores premioloon.com and premioloon.vip, which are aimed at business customers. The range includes balloons of all kinds. The target group are customers who themselves run an online store or a retail store for party articles and balloons or are active in the event sector.

premioloon.com is a normal business-to-business store aimed at all corporate customers. In contrast, we have also created the B2B store premioloon.vip, which is intended exclusively for selected customers who must be invited in advance. Here, customers can expect special discount and loyalty promotions that other customers do not receive. This is a great way to cater to the needs of special customers and regular customers. But we have also incorporated a special promotion in the normal store at the customer's request, which is aimed at customers who have reached a certain amount in orders. Discounts can be secured via a bonus point system.

Both stores also offer the option of customizing balloons, for example with your own text or images.

Our conclusion

If you would like to know which store systems are suitable for creating your B2B store, we have also compiled a detailed list of the various B2B systems for you in an additional article. We have compared a total of ten store systems and highlighted their advantages and disadvantages. Find out which store system suits your company!

FAQ about B2B business

In our FAQ, we answer further questions about B2B business. If you didn't find the answers you were looking for in our article, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We will also be happy to answer your questions about the business-to-business store in person.

  • How do you get B2B customers?

    To attract B2B customers, it is important to offer a positive shopping experience. To do this, you and your company should respond to the needs of your customers or end consumers and understand their requirements in order to offer products and services that meet their needs. It is also important that you come up with a good marketing strategy to reach your customers in the first place. Networking at events and trade fairs can also be helpful in getting you noticed.

    You should also make sure that you respond quickly and professionally to requests for quotations from potential customers and provide them with a customized offer if necessary. Furthermore, building a long-term business relationship is crucial. As a trustworthy and reliable partner, you can continuously convince your customers of your high-quality products and services.

    One way to build a strong business relationship is to contact customers regularly to ensure that they are satisfied with the products and services offered. You should also regularly gather feedback from your customers to improve your offering.

  • For example, what products and services are offered in B2B business?

    Typical products and services in the B2B sector include raw materials, machines, software solutions, consulting services, logistics or financial services. Compared to the B2C sector, B2B products are often more expensive, more specific and require more advice and expertise. However, there is also the opportunity to save money through volume discounts. These volume discounts are only possible from a high order total and are therefore only available to business customers. We have summarized the differences between B2B and B2C products below: In most cases, the purchasing process for products in the B2B sector is longer than in the B2C sector, as detailed consultation and, depending on the case, negotiations are often necessary. In most cases, an offer tailored to the company's individual needs must also be prepared. The prices in online stores are also usually quoted differently. In the B2B sector, the net amount and in the B2C sector the gross amount are common. In addition, the sums involved are usually much higher in the B2B sector than in online stores for private end customers.

  • Which tools can be used for customer loyalty in the B2B sector?

    To improve customer loyalty, you can use CRM or customer relationship management, among other things. This is software that collects customer data and can help you to analyze and use it accordingly. This data can be crucial for reaching customers, especially in the area of marketing. Of course, it also helps your customer loyalty if you have personal contact and give your customers the opportunity to speak directly to you or an employee, chat or exchange emails if they have questions or problems. With the option to leave a review, you also increase customer trust and can obtain honest feedback to improve your products, services and service. Catch up with your customers or potential customers by writing a personal newsletter to inform them about the latest products. Of course, you can also run special bonus promotions to build customer loyalty. There are loyalty cards or points for this, for example. Overall, there are many different methods that strengthen customer loyalty. Simply try out what suits your products or services and your target group best.

  • What is a quick order?

    A quick order in B2B is a feature that allows customers to place orders quickly and easily by entering a list of product numbers or SKU numbers instead of selecting each product individually and adding it to the shopping cart. This is particularly useful for businesses that regularly place large orders or who already know which products they need.

    The quick order function is particularly relevant for certain customer groups in the B2B sector, such as buyers or companies that place recurring orders. These customers often already have an overview of the products they need and want to save time by being able to place orders quickly and easily.

    Quick orders can also help to improve order accuracy, as customers can specify exactly which products and quantities they need, rather than manually selecting them and adding them to the basket. This can reduce the risk of errors and save time.

    For companies that regularly update their product catalogs, it is important to ensure that their quick order feature is up to date and includes all new products and SKU numbers. This will ensure that customers can place orders quickly and easily without having to access outdated product information.

  • What role does search engine optimization play for a B2B online store?

    Search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role for a B2B online store as it allows the company to be found by potential customers who are actively searching for products or services that the company offers. Through an effective SEO strategy, a B2B online store can improve its visibility in search engine results, which in turn can lead to more traffic, higher sales and improved competitive positioning.

    In the B2B sector, companies compete with other companies for orders and customers. With a targeted SEO strategy, a company can improve the visibility and ranking of its products and services in search engine results and thus gain an advantage over competitors.

    An increase in sales is another benefit of a successful SEO strategy. By increasing traffic to the website and improving the ranking in search engine results, B2B online stores can reach more potential customers and thus increase their sales. In addition, an automated SEO strategy can enable a B2B online store to optimize its website more efficiently and effectively.

  • What is Orocommerce?

    OroCommerce is a B2B e-commerce platform designed specifically for B2B sales. The platform was developed by Oro Inc., a company that specializes in B2B software development.

    OroCommerce offers a variety of features and tools tailored to the specific needs of B2B companies. These include the management of complex product hierarchies and structures, support for contract and pricing agreements, the integration of payment and shipping options and the ability to manage customer-specific prices and discounts.

    The platform also has an extensive API that allows companies to integrate OroCommerce into their existing systems and create seamless e-commerce experiences for their customers. In addition, the platform is modular, which allows companies to customize and extend the platform to meet their specific needs.

    OroCommerce is an open-source platform, which means that developers can customize and extend the platform to meet the specific needs of their customers. The platform is also available in the cloud and can be run on various cloud platforms such as AWS and Google Cloud.

  • What is Spryker?

    Spryker is an e-commerce platform that provides companies with modular store software that allows them to create and operate online stores quickly and easily. The platform is known for its flexibility and scalability, allowing companies to easily customize their online stores to their specific needs and expand them as required.

    With Spryker, companies can easily manage and update their product assortment to ensure that their customers always have access to the latest products. The platform also offers a variety of integrated features, including order management, payment and shipping processing, and customer management, to help companies run their e-commerce operations efficiently.

  • What sales channels and distribution channels are there in the B2B sector?

    There are various sales and distribution channels in the B2B sector, which can vary depending on the company and product. Here are some of the most common sales channels in the B2B sector:

    1.Direct sales: this is where the company sells its products directly to the customer without the mediation of a third party. This can be done through the use of sales staff, online stores or direct mailings.

    2. indirect sales: In this case, the company sells its products to the customer via intermediaries or distributors. These intermediaries handle the sale and distribution of the products and receive a commission in return.

    3. partner distribution: The company works with other companies to sell its products. This can be done through strategic partnerships, joint ventures or alliances.

    4. online sales: The company sells its products via the Internet, e.g. via its own online stores or online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay.

    5. trade fairs and events: The company presents its products at trade fairs and events in order to address potential customers and establish business relationships.

    Depending on the company and product, a combination of different sales channels can be the most effective way of attracting customers and increasing sales.

  • What is a punchout?

    A punchout is a technology that enables customers to access a supplier's catalog or store directly from their own purchasing system and place orders without having to log in to each store individually. The customer can therefore access the supplier's catalog, select products and place orders directly from their own system without having to log in to the supplier's store.

    This process is also known as "round-trip shopping", as the customer returns to their own system after completing the purchase. The process is designed in such a way that the customer experiences a seamless transition between the systems and the shopping experience is simplified as a result.

    Punchouts are particularly relevant in the B2B sector as they allow customers to place orders quickly and efficiently without having to log in to each store or supplier individually. This speeds up the purchasing process and increases efficiency. In addition, companies can benefit from punchouts as they can strengthen customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction.

  • Is it worthwhile for a wholesaler to create a B2B store

    Yes, it is definitely worthwhile for a wholesaler to create a B2B store. A B2B store offers a variety of benefits that can improve sales and business processes.

    A B2B store enables wholesalers to make their product range available online. Through a well-structured product catalog, customers can easily browse the entire range, view product descriptions, compare prices and obtain relevant information about the products. This makes it easier for customers to find the products they are looking for and increases efficiency in the ordering process.

    The ordering process is optimized by a B2B store. Customers can place their orders online around the clock without having to rely on the availability of a sales representative. This saves time and improves customer satisfaction. Orders can also be processed automatically, which reduces the error rate and shortens processing times.

    A B2B store also supports the wholesaler's sales structure. It enables the seamless integration of sales channels, such as direct sales, field sales and online sales. Through the B2B store, sales staff can better serve and support customers by giving them access to up-to-date information, price lists and special offers. The B2B store can also serve as an effective tool for new customer acquisition by offering potential customers an easy and convenient way to get to know the product range and place orders.

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Meike
Meike
from 11.04.2023

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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