B2B eCommerce is on the rise and shifting at break-neck speed. In the past, B2B companies relied on offline resources to drive sales efforts and influence buyer behaviour. Today, B2B customers are more tech savvy, using multiple digital channels to research and purchase. As buyer demographics shift, this trend will only pick up the pace.
Current study shows that India will have 450 Mn smart phone users and close to 100 Mn 3G users by 2015. But we are still struggling with Infrastructure and bandwidth (High speed Internet).
eCommerce consists of three major categories
- Business to Business (B2B) eCommerce: is growing at a rate of 30% per year without any fanfare.
- Business to Consumer (B2C) eCommerce: is far behind B2B, but is growing at a rate of 60% per year and expected to catch up with B2B Commerce by 2015.
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C) eCommerce: is still in a nascent stage, probably because of lack of trust among both buyers and sellers.
In India, B2B eCommerce is growing at a decent speed, without much of ordeal that is associated with B2C eCommerce.
There are about a dozen major players in the B2B scene in India. They are given below:
India’s top B2B Websites
Trends on B2B eCommerce
Global B2B is estimated at $1.25 trillion. The companies of USA had 42% of their sales through B2B eCommerce.
B2B Commerce is undergoing radical and rapid transformation with more and more organisations learning from B2C and embracing electronic and now mobile commerce.
A recent Forrester study estimates the B2B eCommerce trend has already revolutionized the way business is conducted in the developed countries and the trend will pick up in India over the next 1-2 years. “Like B2C, many B2B organizations are establishing an online channel and they are now focusing on how to grow this channel to maximize revenue. The trend in fact is driven by an increasing focus on customer experience,” says the Forrester study
Forrester believes that B2B eCommerce organizations must address three key trends in the coming years:
- growing demand for B2C-like B2B eCommerce experiences;
- increasing channel conflict between direct sales organizations and eCommerce operations;
- rising demand for scarce B2B eCommerce talent
Experts believe that the B2B eCommerce can certainly be successful in India because of the vital role B2C has been playing in the past few years. Likewise, many believe that the B2B eCommerce model is backed by the prior establishment of a strong B2C market.
As opportunities are created, however, challenges arise as complexities of meeting the new obligations multiply. No place is this more true than in the payments arena, particularly as though B2B payments move to a global stage, as moving money across borders and currencies in a way that is secure, transparent and compliant is no easy feat, even in the age of online digital commerce.
Pressures for Adoption
The infrastructure for eCommerce is widely available: Internet connections are present in almost every organization across the country.
Employees are becoming more tech savvy, as technological solutions are more universally operable. Moreover, the eCommerce landscape is not alien to B2B users, most of if not all are already B2C eCommerce consumers.
On the supply side, project costs to develop a B2B site have been decreasing and many alternatives, such as B2B storefronts, have been developed. Additionally, storefronts such as hybrids B2B Commerce have the ability to integrate with ERP solutions for credit check and invoicing and also to the firm’s back end.
International B2B eCommerce is increasing as communication costs decrease and freedom of commerce grows in many geographies. Marketplaces such as Alibaba in China, ThomasNet.com in US, IndiaMART in India and EC21in South Korea attract millions of users monthly.
However, the greatest pressure to adopt to B2B eCommerce models is simple demand. With eCommerce enabled, at the end of the day companies can reach out to their customers in a way that customers find desirable.
However B2B eCommerce, while on the surface similar to its flashier cousin B2C, suffers from a unique set of complexities. Apart from expecting B2C features (order entry, order history, technical support information and status) B2B customers also demand specialized characteristics such as different user roles and multiple input points. Besides, the same supplier might have different catalogs, price lists, rules and discounts for different customers.
In turn, international B2B eCommerce has further challenges such as operating across different languages, cultures and legal, regulatory and logistical environments. Some companies provide help in establishing in different markets.
Not always evident at first, but presenting an extreme challenge, is the way international payments are made. Since some financial institutions may decline transactions arising from high-risk countries a firm wanting to enter those markets must consider alternative ways of facilitating payments.
Look for these when starting an eCommerce business
So, when you consider eCommerce business as an option, what all do you need to succeed? Since it enjoys the advantage of not needing a big physical space, sound eCommerce software is the most important need. One of the most important of these is choosing the right eCommerce platform. It should coordinate and synchronize all the functions of B2B eCommerce websites. You could also incorporate important elements such as eCommerce website design, eCommerce shopping cart and a functional eCommerce site. The B2B experience should be as intuitive as B2C.
3 Key Considerations
- Get Realistic about what disturbs your customers: – define and integrate your commerce solutions across the full buyer’s journey for a seamless, all inclusive experience.
- Keep it Simple: – a streamline technology stack will save you time and money and facilitate better experiences for your buyers.
- Give Personal Care: – delivering targeted content to existing and potential buyers is critical to staying competitive and driving revenue.
- Forrester Report Oct’13
- E-Commerce Industry in India(2011-2015), Survey Report
- ECommerce & E-Tailing in India.