eCommerce Marketing Opportunities for B2B Online Stores
In case you haven’t heard us mention it lately, B2B eCommerce is on the rise, and giving your retailers the option of placing wholesale orders online 24/7 has huge implications for your business. Not only will you see more frequent re-orders (along with healthier cash flow and a more even distribution of revenue), you’ll also see impacts on your sales reps’ time and effectiveness. Another less emphasized but very exciting implication of B2B eCommerce is that it opens up an array of marketing opportunities that might have been previously unavailable to your brand. While in the world of B2C, brands are able to stay connected to consumers through email marketing, promotions, and other forms of engagement on the web, brands have thus far had very limited ways of communicating with their B2B customers (i.e. retailers), often beginning and ending with a sales rep’s visit to their store. Now, however, as B2B eCommerce grows in importance and adoption, many of the marketing tactics that work in the B2C eCommerce space are becoming relevant to brands doing wholesale. Here are some of the top B2B eCommerce marketing opportunities that brands are leveraging to drive up sales among their retail buyers.
eCommerce Marketing Opportunities for B2B
1. Maintain a permanent brand showcase.
If you haven’t yet implemented B2B eCommerce, a full visual of your product line, with images, descriptions and prices exists only in paper catalogs or––a little better––on your reps’ mobile devices (if they are currently using mobile order writing software). The problem with this approach is that it requires someone else to be in the presence of your retailers for them to interact with your brand and buy your products. Having your entire catalog easily located at a URL that you can share with your customers means they always know where to go to find exactly what they need. It means you can build a more positive and engaging brand experience, and interact with retailers outside of the occasional face-to-face meeting.
2. Offer training materials, merchandising guidelines, and promotional videos.
Your B2B eCommerce portal should also be a place to direct your customers to all the complementary marketing assets that will help them sell your line. Whether it’s training materials to clarify any product questions, merchandising guidelines to steer your retailers in the right direction, or promotional videos that highlight your products in their best light, these assets complement the buying experience by addressing questions and concerns right when the buyer needs it most. While previously, you may have needed to rely heavily on your reps as the only channel through which to build your brand, these easily accessible marketing materials can enhance your brand experience by allowing you to tell your brand story exactly how you want to tell it.
3. Run promotions that immediately convert into orders.
Probably the most significant marketing impact of B2B eCommerce, it is now possible for you to run promotions that your B2B customers can immediately jump on. While previously, you might have been running a promotion that you had to hype weeks before a sales rep visited a store, you can now mass email your retailers with promotional offerings, link them directly to your site, and allow them to immediately redeem the offer. It’s not only a more seamless experience for your retailers, but it also allows you to capitalize on immediacy and strike while the iron is hot.
4. Communicate new releases and early previews.
Many brands are limited to trade shows or rep visits as their only means of showing off their latest collection. With B2B eCommerce, you are able to communicate product news to your retailers when the information is hot off the presses. You can even treat early access to your line as a perk for your favorite customers. Many brands also choose to have their buyers check out and flag items they want to include in upcoming trade show or in-person sales appointments. This helps expedite the in-person order experience, giving you more time to upsell, build rapport with your customers, and capture additional new leads.
Building Your Brand with B2B eCommerce
The wholesaler-retailer relationship is rapidly transitioning from what used to be sporadic visits throughout the year to a more comprehensive, consistent model of communication. While this relationship was initially catalyzed by the advent of wholesale sales technology, B2B eCommerce gives your brand the opportunity to nurture deep customer connections yearround, and the ability to develop retailers into strong brand advocates.