Digitalisation is enabling the B2B segment to leverage new solutions. This often includes a web shop for online sales, which can end up having potential that goes far beyond its original function as a sales channel. Four fundamental tips for B2B companies preparing to launch their own web shop can be found here.
Launching your own B2B web shop: 4 tips for getting started
An own B2B web shop requires lots of effort. In terms of its planning, its financing and its staffing – to name just a few challenges. But what does an operator have to reckon with concretely; what do they have to pay particular attention to? Here’s an overview of the four most important points:
1. What is your goal?
A good B2B web shop can and should be more than just another sales channel. It will change internal working processes; influence data collection, security and protection; and it may even lead to a re-evaluation of the product pallet or a completely new business model. On the outside, it serves as a digital ambassador, impacts marketing and, last but not least, can increase the company’s attractiveness as an employer who’s well-positioned technologically. This and more should be considered in the shop’s concept and evaluated. In turn, a well-thought-through strategy is required – and time. Only once these preparations have been decided on should the next step towards an own B2B web shop be taken.
An own B2B web shop requires lots of effort. In terms of its planning, its financing and its staffing – to name just a few challenges.
2. Who should do it?
Only experienced professionals launch and operate a web shop on their own. In most cases, a team is behind it all – not just on the technical level. Which is why a clear, carefully planned distribution of labour across all departments involved is needed. This includes, for instance, Strategy, Marketing, Sales, Procurement, Logistics, Customer Service, and Product Development. The course must be set early in the game, such as employing new staff or participating in further training measures. Frequently, it seems to make sense to outsource certain individual working steps, such as processing, to external service providers.
3. What will happen with the data?
A web shop generates digital information nonstop. This information is what’s needed for success in e-commerce. However, this only works with a data management system that’s been well set up. Its task: to bring the bits and bytes together from different sources, to sort these and to densify them to create meaningful analyses. The system can also deliver processing instructions, or at least indications, thanks to AI. Product pallets, pricing, ordering processes and logistical procedures, etc. can then be automated with relatively little effort – or at least monitored and controlled.
4. How buys what and how?
A web shop for B2B purposes can be open round the clock and have customers as well as suppliers all over the world. This potentially global sales opportunity opens up new sales markets, yet it requires country-specific forms of presentation at the same time. This affects, for example, the language of the web shop. Is English enough or does it make sense to have translations in the individual country languages? Do additional differences need to be considered in terms of the users’ mentalities? What does this mean for the marketing mix? More engagement on Instagram, less on Facebook, differing content? The customer journey can deliver the answers to these and similar questions.
Your own B2B web shop vs. A B2B marketplace: pros and cons
The sales-pushing significance of online shops is immense. The B2B segment, too, profits from fast ordering processes, round-the-clock opening hours or data-based marketing, to name just a few. But which platform is the right one? Some rely on a B2B web shop, which they take care of themselves; while others leverage the B2B marketplace of a specialised service provider. The decision on which one of the two variants is best is not always easy to take.
What’s clear, though: if you open up your own sales channel, you have to continually invest in its operability. The fruit of your efforts is, ideally, a flexible platform that is perfectly in line with your company’s offerings and clientele. Including the full control over the data collected.
A B2B marketplace, such as wlw (“Wer liefert was”) and EUROPAGES, in contrast, take a lot of the work off of your hands, yet they limit individuality and only let you manage the site to a comparably low extent.
Indeed, the decision seems difficult, but it is actually quite easy: a web shop and an online marketplace do not have to compete with one another – they can go hand in hand. B2B marketplaces like wlw and EUROPAGES reinforce your online visibility among the companies listed on them and make it easier for buyers to find suppliers. Business deals can be made directly with the seller: via telephone, email or their web shop. Regardless of whether you launch a web shop or not, setting up a profile on a B2B marketplace is a good idea. If the launch of an own B2B web shop is worthwhile for your company, it should be strategically reviewed and considered carefully – and the above-mentioned tips can offer assistance.