Selling B2B (Business-to-Business) with an Online Store
An important feature of your business web marketing campaign is addressing your B2B (business-to-business) opportunities. The vast majority of online transactions by dollar value in North America are consistently from B2B sales, not from B2C (business-to-consumer).
Even if businesses are your primary customers, you can organize your online store in much the same way you would set up a retail store. Customer friendliness and ease of use remain as primary goals. Other than a different online promotional strategy, your main changes are pricing, merchandising (how you stock your store), and packaging — most businesses buy larger quantities than individuals.
If you’re looking for resellers or franchisees, include a secure application form with spaces for a state resale number and credit references. At the very least, ask them to call or e-mail! You might also have an online form for them to apply for a trade account and pay by purchase order (PO). In the following illustration you can see how Findhorn Flower Essences, a manufacturer and retailer of healing floral extracts, handles applications for trade accounts. It might take a bit of work to accept trade applications and POs online and to integrate them with accounting software for proper billing.
If you’re a wholesaler or manufacturer, consider implementing a password login so that only approved dealers can view your wholesale prices and place orders.
Don’t undercut your retailers by competing with them directly on price. You can lose more revenue from channel cannibalization than you make from selling directly. Instead, link customers to your dealers’ websites to buy, and have dealers link back to your site for product details or tech support. Consider offering co-op support for dealers’ online advertising — it pays off in additional business for your company.
If you must sell online B2C, perhaps because you’re opening a new territory or your business plan calls for a second income stream, sell your products at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and let your dealers offer discounts.