The B2B Onlineshop Guide: Advantages, Requirements and Best Practice
You are already in the B2B business and are now thinking about entering the e-commerce world with your company? Or maybe you're still at the very beginning and just starting your B2B business. No matter what your starting point is, in this post you'll find all the important information you need to create a B2B online store.
Reading time 5 min
- What is a B2B online store?
- B2B: online or offline?
- What types of B2B online stores can you run?
- Step by step to your B2B store
- Must Haves: What does a good B2B online store need?
- Best Practice: An example of a good B2B store
- Our conclusion
- How do you get B2B customers?
- What products and services are offered in B2B stores, for example
- What tools can be used for customer retention in B2B?
- What is a quick order?
- What role does search engine optimization play for a B2B online store?
- What is Orocommerce?
- What is Spryker?
- What are the sales channels and distribution channels in B2B?
- What is a punchout?
What is a B2B online store?
A B2B store addresses its offer to companies and not to private buyers. The abbreviation B2B stands for business-to-business. Products and services of a company are sold to other companies online. For this reason, the net price is usually displayed directly in the online store, since VAT is refunded for most business customers. It is important for this that customers in the B2B store can also directly indicate their VAT identification number.
B2B: online or offline?
B2B retailers are often faced with the challenge of whether to bring their products to their customers online or offline. After all, both business models have their advantages and disadvantages. Offline, companies can advise their customers on direct contact in their retail 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, among other things. The emotional level is decisive here. In return, of course, the reach of the retail store is limited. Likewise, there are high fixed costs due to the rent of a store and the employment of staff on site. This, in turn, is the great advantage of a B2B online store, which can be operated at comparatively low cost. With an online store, a large reach can be built up. It is also possible to sell and ship abroad. An online store can also be associated with advantages for the customers. They don't need to travel and thus save time and also money. Of course, for your B2B business you can do both brick-and-mortar and online shopping 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 learn about and buy your products online.
The advantages of a B2B online shop
We have summarized the advantages of your B2B online store here:
- Wide reach: with a B2B online store, you can reach a larger number of customers directly. The reach is not only limited to the local or regional market.
- 24/7 Shopping: Customers also have the opportunity to find out about the product range and purchase needed products at any time of day, every day of the week. They do not have to consider opening hours or holidays.
- Individual offers: By operating an online store, you have the opportunity to collect individual customer data and can then also create individualized offers that suit your target group. You can also collect customer feedback after the purchase to improve your offer.
- Cost savings: By operating a store, both rental costs and personnel costs can be saved.
What types of B2B online stores can you run?
If you decide to run a B2B store, you have the option to do it 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 customers and private customers. However, the challenge here is to correctly implement the requirements of the different target groups. This is already evident in the price, because private customers need the gross prices. For business customers, the net price is usually displayed. Thus, the technology and design of your online store must be well thought out.
For wholesalers, a so-called wholesale channel is usually also suitable. There, similar to another store, prices, discounts, minimum orders, etc. will be set. However, it is not a direct order when a customer fills in the desired quantity, etc., but only a draft. After that you can make an individualized offer to your customer, based on the selected quantity, suggesting suitable quantity discounts, etc.
In a normal B2B store, you focus solely on the target group of companies. Everything that is important for private buyers, you do not have to consider here. This allows you to focus on business-to-business requirements in terms of design and offer. You also need to ask for the sales tax identification number or proof of the customer's business 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 the creation. In this way, you will also find out what type of B2B store is suitable for you and how the structure, design and functionality of your online store must be.
1. your goals for your B2B store
Of course, it's important that you know what your goals are before creating your B2B online store. Here it is also crucial whether you are just starting your business or if you are already stationary. Then you should deal with the following questions regarding the objective: Do you want to generate higher sales or tackle the issue of acquiring new customers? Do you want to increase customer loyalty?
2. find your target group, if you don't have one yet
To get your B2B store right and appealing, 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 on the basis of organizational characteristics such as the size of the company or the location of the company, but also on the basis of economic characteristics, which consist of finances, stocks and liquidity. Likewise, the general buying behavior and the purchase timing also play a role. Of course, there are always people behind a company who do the purchasing for your company. You should also consider the decision makers in this company when analyzing the target group.
3. planning the construction of your online shop
Once you have determined 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. Important for the structure of your online store is a user-friendly design that fits your target group. Build in a clear navigation so that your customers can quickly find what they are looking for. Also important is a good selection of payment and shipping methods, so that business customers can pay with their preferred payment method and receive their products quickly. You should also think about different features you would like to include, such as a search function or an order history.
4. a store system that suits your company
For the implementation of a successful B2B online store, you can also use a store system. A store system is a software with which you can create an online store relatively easily. Here are usually already many functions available for you to choose from. In another article we have selected ten different store systems for B2B business and compared them with each other. Take a look there 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 must be met. These include the legal form of your company, data protection regarding customer data, your imprint and terms and conditions, as well as issues such as trademark law and taxes depending on the country you are selling to.
6. customer support
There can always be questions and problems. But how should customers be able to contact you? Do you need telephone support or is e-mail support sufficient? When are your office hours and how quickly do customers get an answer to their inquiry?
7. marketing methods
This step takes place after your store is up and running, but it's never too early to start thinking about marketing. After all, you want to reach customers. There are so many different ways to do this. See what fits your niche and what works well for your team.
8. success measurement
Measuring success is also only possible when customers can visit your B2B store. Here you can use free tools like Google Analytics, but also many store systems offer direct ways to measure your success.
What does a good B2B online store need?
Of course, it is important that you align your B2B online store exactly with your target group. You should question this in every detail, whether it's the design, the product selection or the check-out process. We have summarized what you should generally look for 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 the information available is visible in your online store. This is because business customers are usually interested in many more details than private customers. So give information about all technical specifications and certifications, if available. Especially packaging units with all details about size units, pallets or cartons are necessary. It is even better if business customers also have the option to download the product information as a PDF. Likewise, you should post good product photos and better yet create product videos and include them in 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 webshop directly in multiple languages and have international shipping options ready.
Prices in the B2B store
For your prices in the online store, there are some features in the B2B area that can be helpful for your success. On the one hand, you should of course display your prices in net, as this is common in business-to-business. On the other hand, customer-specific price scales are also helpful to encourage customers to make larger purchases. You can set discounts based on volume or individual contracts or agreements.
Feature-rich user administration
A well-designed 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 want to know everything about their orders. Therefore, it is necessary that you create a clear customer portal, in which all information about current and past orders are included. This includes invoices, delivery bills and also the tracking of the most recent order. Ideally, customers should also be able to download everything they need directly from here. Here you should also give the option to create returns or place repeat orders.
Ordering functions for business customers
The fact that the order runs smoothly and can best be completed as quickly as possible is not better for your customers, but also for you. After all, a conversion shouldn't be cut short by a laborious ordering process. A good tip is to directly include a quick order function. This way, your customers can order their desired products with just a few clicks. Another plus point is that you offer interfaces that directly transfer ordered products to your customers' merchandise management system (Wawi). This saves your customers a lot of work.
Of course, you should also offer different 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. It is the B2B stores premioloon.com and premioloon.vip, which are aimed at business customers. The assortment includes balloons of all kinds. The target group is customers who themselves run an online store or a retail store for party supplies and balloons, or who are active in the event sector.
premioloon.com is a normal business-to-business store, aimed at any corporate customers. In contrast, we have also created B2B store premioloon.vip, which is intended exclusively for selected customers who must be invited beforehand. Here, customers can expect special discount and loyalty promotions that other customers do not receive. This is a nice way to cater to the needs of special customers and regular customers. But even in the normal store, we have built in a special promotion at the request of the customer, aimed at customers who have reached a certain amount in orders. This way, discounts can be secured via a bonus point system.
In addition, both stores also offer the option of customizing balloons, for example with your own text or images.
If you want to know which store systems are suitable for creating your B2B store, we have also compiled a detailed list of the various B2B systems in an additional article. In total, we have compared 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 get some answers in our article, don't hesitate to contact us. We will also be happy to answer your questions about the business-to-business store personally.
How do you get B2B customers?
To attract B2B customers, it is important to offer a positive shopping experience. To do this, your business should be responsive to the needs of your customers or end users 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 shows can also be helpful in getting you noticed.
In addition, you should make sure that you respond quickly and professionally to requests for proposals 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 make sure they are satisfied with the products and services you offer. You should also regularly solicit feedback from their customers to help you improve your offerings.
For example, what products and services are offered in B2B?
Typical products and services in B2B include raw materials, machinery, software solutions, consulting services, logistics or financial services. Compared to B2C, B2B products are often more expensive, more specific and require more consulting and expertise. However, there is also the possibility to save due to volume discounts. These volume discounts are only possible for high order sums 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 individual company must also be prepared. Prices in online stores are also usually quoted differently. Thus, in the B2B area the net amount and in the B2C area the gross amount are common. In addition, in the B2B area, we are usually talking about much higher sums than in online stores for private end customers.
What tools can be used for customer retention in B2B?
For better customer retention, you can use, among other things, a CRM or Customer Relationship Management. This is software that collects customer data and can help you analyze and use it accordingly. Especially in the field of marketing, this data can be crucial for reaching customers. Of course, it also helps your customer loyalty if you have personal contact and give your customers the opportunity to speak directly with you or an employee, chat or exchange emails if they have questions or problems. Having the option to leave a review also builds customer trust and allows you to get honest feedback to improve your products, services and support. Catch up with your customers or potential customers by writing a personal newsletter to inform them about the latest products. In addition, you can of course also carry out special bonus promotions to bind customers to you. For this purpose, there are, for example, loyalty cards or points. All in all, there are many different methods to strengthen customer loyalty. Just 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 quickly and easily place orders by entering a list of product numbers or SKU numbers, rather than selecting each product individually and adding it to their cart. This is especially useful for businesses that regularly place large orders or who already know what products they need.
The Quick Order feature is especially relevant for certain B2B customer groups, such as buyers or companies that place recurring orders. These clientele 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 improve order accuracy by allowing customers to specify exactly which products and quantities they need, rather than manually selecting them and adding them to the shopping cart. This can reduce the risk of errors and save time.
For companies that regularly update their product catalogs, it's important to ensure that their quick order feature is up to date and includes all new products and SKU numbers. This ensures 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 enables 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. Moreover, 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 management of complex product hierarchies and structures, support for contract and pricing agreements, integration of payment and shipping options, and the ability to manage custom pricing and discounts.
The platform also has an extensive API that allows companies to integrate OroCommerce with their existing systems and create seamless e-commerce experiences for their customers. In addition, the platform is modular, which allows businesses to customize and extend the platform to meet their specific needs.
OroCommerce is an open source platform, which means 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 run on various cloud platforms such as AWS and Google Cloud.
What is Spryker?
Spryker is an e-commerce platform that provides businesses with modular store software that allows them to create and run online stores quickly and easily. The platform is known for its flexibility and scalability, which allows businesses to easily customize their online stores to meet their specific needs and expand as needed.
With Spryker, businesses 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 businesses run their e-commerce operations efficiently.
What are the sales channels and distribution channels in B2B?
In B2B, there are various sales and distribution channels that can vary depending on the company and product. Here are some of the most common sales channels in B2B:
1.Direct sales: where the company sells its products directly to the customer without the intermediation of third parties. This can be done through the use of sales representatives, online stores or direct mailings.
2.Indirect sales: Here the company sells its products to the customer through intermediaries or distributors. These intermediaries handle the sale and distribution of the products and receive a commission for doing so.
3.Partner distribution: Here, the company collaborates with other companies to sell its products. This can be done through strategic partnerships, joint ventures or alliances.
4.Online sales: Here the company sells its products via the Internet, e.g. through its own online stores or online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay.
5.Trade shows and events: Here, the company presents its products at trade shows 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 most effective in attracting customers and increasing sales.
What is a punchout?
A punchout is a technology that allows customers to access a supplier's catalog or store directly from their own purchasing system and place orders without having to log into each store individually. In other words, customers can 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 in addition.
This process is also referred to as "roundtrip shopping," as the customer returns to his own system after completing the purchase. The process is designed so that the customer experiences a seamless transition between systems, simplifying the shopping experience.
Punchouts are particularly relevant in B2B, as they allow customers to place orders quickly and efficiently without having to log into each store or supplier individually. This speeds up the purchasing process and increases efficiency. In addition, companies can benefit from punchouts because they can strengthen customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction.
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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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