It’s likely that, as a channel, your wholesale B2B eCom platform has mostly been where you park existing buyers. As a platform, it’s helped those buyers replenish products and has been viewed as an order-capture utility.
Believe it or not, an eCom B2B platform can do much more than simply satisfy the utility of order capture. For example, it can serve as a buyer acquisition, retention, and marketing tool. In order to do so, however, it will need to support content along with commerce. This allows you to provide brand and product education to your buyers, as well as give you direct marketing opportunities that will improve your Go To Market (GTM) approach and efficiently create an informed buyer base.
When you have a Content and Commerce eCom B2B system, you will be able to:
Below I will dive into each of these in more detail:
Think of an informed buyer as someone who understands your brand’s goals and product lines. In the B2C space, this is a well understood landscape and direct-to-consumer channels have for years produced ancillary content to help buyers decide or sway them into a purchase. In my own shopping habits, for example, I find that I spend a lot of time researching online before I purchase. Think: how-to guides, promotions, technology stories, video reviews, similar recommended products. Those brands not deploying this kind of strategy within their B2B eCom approach are not providing content for those buyers who want to research existing and future products online before purchasing. This is a missed opportunity to create a more informed buyer at a critical time in your buyer's journey - placing orders.
You can create informed buyers in many ways: tradeshows, booths at the trailhead, on-site in person visits, etc. These are fantastic long tail opportunities to connect and build an informed buyer, but none offer an experience in-platform and alongside the ordering experience.
We have all experienced this strategy working. I can attest to much geekery lounging on Apple's website, comparing technical specs and designs before I plop the change down in that same session. Or perhaps you’ve even tossed a few more products into your Amazon cart based on recommendations or similar products. In a modern B2B eCom experience, both the platform and your team work together to recommend products to the right customer segment. The result is distributing the right product to informed buyers who see your value in comparison to your competitors. Bringing this kind of strategy into your B2B eCom experience is critical, but it’s only possible with a platform that supports both content and commerce features.
Your strategy for growing your customer base doesn’t need to focus solely on tradeshows, knocking on doors and word of mouth. Using a modern B2B platform equips you to use it as a tool to grow your customer base. In fact, some of the same methods used to create informed buyers can be used to acquire new customers.
When content and commerce work in one platform alongside of a strategy for customer acquisition, you can add customers 24/7 across all geographies. You can use direct marketing principles to market your wholesale offering to prospective buyers, bringing them right into your platform to become a customer and, finally, an informed buyer. The benefit of bringing this part of your business forward is its low cost ability to open your brand up to new kinds of buyers, from small to large, in one platform. This can dramatically and quickly increase your business and is a vital part of any relevant wholesale business. Ana Milevskaja, Senior Director, Product Marketing at NewStore explains it this way:
“I once heard that a buyer from a major department store said to a brand: ‘When your platform is down, it feels like we are having pneumonia. We are not able to go on with our business.’ A reliable, scalable, modern and agile B2B platform is no longer an option. It is a must for any brand.”
As you search for the right platform, look for the following qualities that allow your eCom B2B Strategy to use content and commerce:
1. Responsively designed and accessible.
Your platform needs to work seamlessly on multiple screen sizes, and needs to have a modern, globally-ready storefront with availability 24/7.
2. Commerce with an order module that values simplicity in experience, but is powerful in function.
The buyer needs it simple, but you need it to be powerful. Orders should be quick and segmentation should be smart. Your team should be able to recommend, curate and collaborate with customers in platform.
3. Content that is dynamically driven from product data, but also has robust and flexible design options.
Your marketing team needs to design and assemble your GTM content once, knowing the system will keep it updated and controlled while sales and enablement teams can continue to customize it for specific buyers.
4. A marketing system that empowers you to campaign to your buyers.
The platform is a destination to grow informed buyers and gain new customers. It should give you tools to market your brand and product line to buyers, both in and out of platform.
A Wholesale B2B eCom platform with both content and commerce can efficiently create informed buyers and give you a method of growing your buyer base. Both the platform and your team need to work together to make this possible, and the result can be dramatic channel growth.