What kind of businesses spring to mind when you think about online sales? It will most likely be business to consumer retailers, using the internet to sell their products directly to customers. Certainly, most retailers will have an e-shop, using it either to sell exclusively online or perhaps to complement a physical store.
But while every business has customers, not all customers are end-users, and e-shops can also benefit companies that don’t promote their products to the general public, selling them instead to other businesses. These might be wholesalers, manufacturers, producers, dealers, distributors or franchisees – in fact, any other intermediary business that is part of a chain connecting products to the final customer.
5 ways an e-shop can benefit your B2B business
If you’ve been successfully running your business without an e-commerce facility up to now, you might be wondering why you should consider investing in one. It’s important to know that an e-shop won’t replace the way you currently work – it will complement and enhance it, giving your business scope to be even more successful.
Here are some of the ways that giving your customers the option to purchase through an e-shop can benefit your business:
- improved customer experience
While there will always be a place for selling face to face or over the telephone, customers increasingly expect to have the option to order and buy online – after all; it’s the way most of us make our purchases in this day and age.
With an e-shop integrated into your website, customers will be able to place orders at their convenience, any time 24/7. It means your business will still be able to make sales even when there’s no one in the office – something that can be especially beneficial if you’re dealing with overseas customers who may be operating in different time-zones.
If your business does use sales reps, an online facility will give them another medium from which to promote and sell. Your sales team will be able to access the shop, placing and processing orders while they’re with customers.
- A competitive edge
While most B2C businesses already offer customers the option to purchase online, many B2B businesses have yet to adopt e-commerce. Soon, having an e-shop will be an expectation, but in the meanwhile, having an online sales channel presents an opportunity to gain an edge over competitors.
- More time to focus on customer service
With more sales being processed through your e-shop, your sales team will have more time to focus on looking after customer accounts. They’ll be able to develop deeper, more profitable relationships and establish a higher level of loyalty.
- Reduced sales overheads
Streamlining and automating some of your sales – through an e-shop that integrates seamlessly with other business systems such as stock control and finance will allow you to take advantage of cost-saving efficiencies.
- Grow sales revenue
You can use your e-shop to display related and recommended products to visitors. Doing this will unlock powerful cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, resulting in higher total order values.
- Grow your customer base
An e-commerce facility on your website will improve your online presence, helping new customers find you through the search engines. This will be especially effective if you opt to make your product pages public, but even if you restrict them to existing customers, you can use targeted marketing content in your e-shop to attract new sales enquiries.
Setting up an online shop is easier than you might think
Setting up an e-shop might initially sound like a time-consuming and expensive project. But if you select to work with an experienced web developer like Wicko Design, the process is relatively straightforward, and as the benefits listed above demonstrate, you should be more than recovering your investment in a very short space of time.
If you already have a website built on one of the popular CMS (content management system) platforms such as WordPress or Joomla, there are e-commerce plugins that can integrate with your site and give you the foundations of an e-shop for free. There are a host of features you can pay to add on, and of course, you’ll still need to engage a web developer with the technical and creative skills required to build a bespoke e-shop that looks and functions exactly as you want it to. But using a free plugin will help you to keep your costs down.
You’ll be able to:
- Easily list products
Listing products on your e-shop is simple. If you have an extensive range of products and details are in a database that can be exported as a spreadsheet, it’s just a matter of importing all the information into your e-shop.
Both WooCommerce and VirtueMart allow your website builder to create categories for products, and to list any number of variable options (such as size or colour).
- Easily manage pricing
An e-shop makes easy work of pricing, with everything managed through a database linked to your e-shop.
VAT (where applicable), shipping costs (based on value, weight or geographical location) and discounts for ‘bundles’ or bulk orders can be set to calculate automatically. Selected products can be discounted with just a few keystrokes, and if you have different pricing structures for different types of customers, dynamic pricing allows you can set your e-shop up to recognise who’s visiting and display the appropriate prices.
- Easily take payment
An e-shop gives customers a range of payment options, making it easy and convenient for them to pay for their purchases. You’ll need to choose a payment gateway partner to work with, and this is something we can help and advise on. You can read more about payment gateways, and one of our most recent projects – creating an e-shop for our mobile accessories client getgofone in our blog Choosing a Payment Gateway: 7 Essential Considerations.
- Easily integrate with other systems
Sales are the lifeblood of any business, and an e-shop can be integrated with other existing business systems including accounts and banking, stock control and customer account management. Seamless integration with these and other critical systems delivers time-saving and money-saving efficiencies and benefits – for the business and its customers.
Are You Ready to Set Up Shop?
If you’re ready to give your customers the facility to buy online, Wicko Design can help you. We’ve designed and built many e-shops for both B2B and B2C businesses. Perhaps you want to add an e-commerce facility to an existing website, or maybe you’d like to create a brand new website with an integrated e-shop. Whatever your requirements, Wicko Design can help get your business selling online fast!
For more information on setting up an e-shop, read our blog Build an E-Commerce Online Shop & Start Selling Today!