How to Optimize Your Ecommerce Value Proposition
By Tom Wintaugh
Fulfilling wholesale orders requires a different approach than B2C selling—here's where to start.
Want to read this blog offline?
No worries, download the PDF version now and enjoy your reading later...Download PDF
As the economies of the world have increasingly shifted towards ecommerce, most B2B businesses have embraced the wave of digitization, with merchants reporting as much as 40% of all B2B revenue coming from online sources. It has become imperative for B2B enterprises to not just join the digital bandwagon, but to continually refine processes to meet the specific needs of their buyer audiences. B2B ecommerce still diverges significantly from the B2C model, especially in the critical sphere of order fulfillment. In this discussion, we will look at the essential elements that define successful wholesale fulfillment.
To precisely tailor strategies, it's very important to grasp the unique preferences and expectations of B2B buyers, a subject we have explored in detail here. This group generally prefers a more data-rich shopping experience which is personalized to their account details. Their orders tend to be more substantial, accompanied by expectations of swift, reliable shipping, advanced payment solutions, and customized pricing structures. Like B2C shoppers, they also seek detailed product information and attentive customer service. This spectrum of needs lends B2B ecommerce a greater complexity overall, necessitating a refined approach to order fulfillment.
B2B order fulfillment hinges on three major objectives—handling product data, customizing processes for B2B accounts, and mastering fast and transparent shipment of goods. Exceptional wholesale ecommerce fulfillment relies on these foundations:
Wrangling product data is at the core of effective fulfillment. Advanced ecommerce platforms can do most of the heavy lifting for product-related data like inventory levels, ERP data, product-based promotions, supplier data, and location tracking. Some merchants also employ a Product Information Management (PIM) system to facilitate management of large product catalogs, ensuring efficient handling of various product details and seamless updates across applications and departments.
Develop personalized pricing structures, predicated on a buyer's historical data and pre-negotiated agreements. Then, use ecommerce platform features to automatically communicate that pricing in promotions, product pages, and cart once the customer account logs in.
Different buyers have different ordering preference and methods. For example, a B2B client who is stocking multiple stores might need specialized ordering tools for bulk ordering and split shipments. A different client might place less orders but need more data in order to complete each sale, such as a price quote. As much as possible, help each customer find the most efficient way to place orders for their unique situation. Features such as easy reordering and saved order functionalities are very effective.
B2B orders, often characterized by their complexity, demand a nimble order management system capable of automating processing, accommodating multiple shipping addresses, looping in all of the appropriate internal staff members, and managing taxes and refunds. This type of system is even more crucial when various customers have different payment terms and expectations around routine ordering. Some ecommerce platforms include native order management systems, precluding the need for an external OMS.
Fast, trustworthy shipping services, including real-time updates and straightforward return policies, are the final component of good B2B order fulfillment. We outlined a list of excellent shipping partners here.
Successful B2B order fulfillment is one of the key ways to gain and retain customers, and should not take a backseat to other aspects of selling online. By leveraging product data systems, instituting personalized pricing, streamlining ordering, and accelerating shipping shipping, you can ensure that fulfillment systems are oriented to the specific demands of B2B clients. In this way, fulfillment can be a tool to make your business more competitive, more profitable, and more connected to your audience.
Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.