The growing spread of mobile end devices has permanently influenced the B2B sector. Already today, for instance, smartphones are not to be wished away from the everyday workday of tradesmen, whether as a navigation device, digital spirit level, or an electronic logbook. Thanks to the camera, photos of equipment in need of repair can be taken; operation manuals and invoices can be downloaded via QR code.
The e-commerce branch encompasses all digital business traffic and is a branch for the future. Big players, such as Amazon, eBay or Alibaba are leading the way: if you want to sell products in the internet successfully, you need more than just a pretty online shop.
Progress is not stopping for B2B companies either, quite the opposite: the digital transformation is increasingly putting pressure on B2B companies to address the topic of e-commerce and online sales. In this context, e-commerce is not limited purely to sales, but also includes the customer journey, which begins with the marketing of a product and continues after the completion of a transaction.
The national association of e-commerce and shipping trade Germany (bevh) started an initiative for the topic sustainability this year. According to the association, around 35 percent of all member companies are already committed to sustainability and accept corporate responsibility for the environment and for society. The associated task force has already met:
What does an online shop in B2B have to be able to offer? What differentiates B2B e-commerce from B2C? The basic criteria can be summarised as six challenges:
- The shop is aimed at smaller, homogenous user groups
- B2B shops are often used by the same customers for the same products
- The emphasis is therefore on finding the product and completing the order quickly. Compared to B2C, time saving functions such as savable wish lists, are more important than design.
The trend towards personalisation in e-commerce is picking up speed. It isn’t just been about location anymore. Customer address, as well as prices and products shown in the shop are increasingly being adjusted according to the situation and preferences of the customer. For instance, shops are optimised for the gender shopping there most often, prices change according to time, day, and wallet size, and the weather is taken into account on electronic billboard advertising.
Information gathering in B2B is still rather traditional, print media are trusted the most. The catalogue’s popularity is still enormous; however, it is losing meaning in the face of online contents.
This can be seen, for example, in the statistics on the economic situation in shipping trade 2013 from the bevh. Online ordering channels are being used more strongly in comparison to the year before, whereas print is decreasing. Online marketing and sales persons as distribution channels are on the rise.
How do I create content in B2B? Not every product is attractive and has an exciting background story. This problem, which has already caused headaches in B2C, is even more prevalent in B2B. Most companies in this area can more or less be placed in the ‘boring industries’ category. How is it possible to create and market interesting, comprehensive content here?
Ross Hudgens, who calls himself a content-marketing expert with a SEO background, has a plethora of tips and ideas for this challenge.
Go into depth: Naturally, there is hardly a manufacturer which can compete with B2C enterprises, such as Zalando, when it comes to image and product attractiveness. However, there are numerous points of connection which could interest customers, partners, and the branch. They aren’t sexy, but relevant and not as self-explanatory as one would think from an inside perspective.