The growth of e-commerce industry and the abundant opportunities in this sphere to earn and grow is well perceived and acclaimed. The whole other segment of it is industrial e-commerce that is growing exponentially too. But, astonishingly about $1 trillion B2B e-commerce market remains untapped.
Industrial suppliers are beginning to realize that the treasure is lying around and have originated their hunt by launching their own e-commerce sites. It doesn’t stop here. With some invincible giants like Amazon supply, Grainger and Fastenal holding a huge share of the pie in the b2b retail realm, it is going to be quite a task to emerge successful.
The haunting reality is that there are a number of challenges like product configuration, having the perfect product catalog, and user-friendly website navigation that interrupt the journey to the trove.
80% of companies implementing B2B e-commerce believe that their customer expectations have changed due to B2C practices. This means that as a supplier of industrial products that sell to other businesses, your online store can be no less fancy than that of a B2C online store.
It has got to have everything – Easy identification, filterability, product details, shipping details, and simple payment process.
However, the hunting gets easier with a map that can route you to retail glory with some important clue cards that will help you to quickly get there!
Map to unearth the secret treasure of b2b e-commerce: Here are your clues
Clue #1 – Rich product data
According to a recent Ventana research study, over 80% of B2B companies are not confident in their product data.
Good product data is so crucial that it can improve your chance of being chosen over your competitors. So you need the whole package. A good product data should include everything – Title, description, pricing, high-resolution images, data sheets etc.
For industrial e-commerce, more specifically, the product data should be extremely detail-oriented because you never know how customers search or navigate for a product.
They could search by brand name, product name, features, part number etc. You might actually have what they are looking for. But to your tough luck, you don’t just appear on the results or have right facets to navigate.
That is why you need catalog optimization.
- For search engines, both on your site as well as Google to showcase you on its result pages
- Give customers a good purchase experience and
- Easily filterable
Clue #2 –Taxonomy structure
Organize your products with a flawless taxonomy structure for improved content discovery, better user experience, and good ROI. A well-defined taxonomy helps in quicker purchasing decisions and increased sales.
Industrial products have thousands of uses or applications. So, building a taxonomy for a B2B website is pretty challenging.
The products could be a combination of systems, components, tools, assemblies, and engineering designs. Buyers would have many questions before making a purchase decision. For example, say a buyer is looking for an actuator. So his questions would be on the choices available at your store. What kind of actuator? Pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric? Linear or rotary?
How do you instantly answer such questions that would possibly have a lot of details? This is done by structuring your data, which is the “taxonomy structure”.
Build your online store’s navigation with:
The fundamental concept of taxonomy structuring is categorizing. That is where the nuances of product details and attribute models come into play. You could build the sub-categories on the basis of types/varieties under the main category or on the basis of characteristics.
For example, let’s say the categorization is going to be on the basis of “types”, then, the main category would be “actuator” and the sub-categories would be Pneumatic/hydraulic/electric.
Now, if the categorization is based on characteristics, let’s take an example of a plywood. Then, the taxonomy would look something like this:
Measurement (8*4 ft)/ Characteristics (Bend Resistant/Moisture Resistant/ number of Ply hence more strength).
A taxonomy can provide a broad grouping, but sub-groupings are created according to specific characteristics – such as the ones that describe actuator types or plywood features.
Clue #3 – B2B On-site search
76% of customers say the most important factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want”
For an industrial e-commerce website, the importance of on-site search results cannot be stressed enough, because, the product details are highly complex and the customer could be using any detail/attributes/variants to search for the product.
These are some specifics that could constitute a search:
- Context – personalized search by the user (industry/company/brand name/characteristics)
- Contract – what products they can buy and agreed upon price
- Warehouse inventory
- Manufacturer part number
- Competitor cross reference
- Part number matching (strip out special characters)
- Automated spell check
Now, to be able to perform well and appear on the google search results when a customer is looking for an industrial product that you are also selling, you need to optimize your website.
To achieve organic traffic to your website, you need to have flawless product data, taxonomy (discussed above) and include keywords as a part of your product catalogs.
You could read our blog on SEO for marketplaces for a thorough understanding of keyword research.
Clue #4 – Build huge catalogs
With big players in the market that sell millions of products, others need to catch up by having huge volumes of SKUs. For instance, Amazon Business has a listing of 2.2 million items while Grainger has got 1.2 million items on their websites. The more product choices, collection and brands you own, the more you sell.
Benefits of building huge catalogs:
- Increase profits
- Scale for growth
- Customer satisfaction
How do you manage huge catalog inventory? Or rather how do you onboard huge volumes of products onto your marketplace within a quick turnaround time?
It all comes down to choosing right technology and tools to enable aggregating and transforming catalog feeds synchronized with backend systems.
Clue #5 – Warehouse management – Keeping pace with the B2B giants
Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is transforming the industry with its supply chain operations. This has given other players in the market some major goals to re-energize their operations. Amazon has built an incredible product range through its supply chain innovation.
How does it effectively manage inventory?
Amazon’s supply chain operations are transformed by the use of digital technologies.
They have a fully digitized warehouse and their distribution and fulfillment network helps the goods efficiently move between locations. Apart from digitizing operations, Amazon also does distribution of warehouses, in the sense, instead of having a central warehouse to process an order for shipment, it has resorted to the process of serving at closer proximity. With backend systems providing data integration across order processing, warehouse and distribution workflows, Amazon can quickly process an order.
Businesses that want to keep pace with Amazon’s progress should transform around digital technologies and be obsessed with efficiency to reach such heights.
What’s going to take you through the map to the treasure chest?
While you are wondering how to make the right use of these clues to grab the valuable treasure trove, the answer is simple!
Structuring, standardizing and normalizing product data in industrial distribution could be highly complex and time-consuming. So, automating product onboarding and product data management will help you save time that can be used to concentrate on core business objectives.
All you need is a tool that is configurable, intuitive, and that enables bulk product listing and enrichment to onboard huge volumes of products onto online channels marketplaces in record time. This is where you need a slick and comprehensive tool like Productiwise that can help you make sense of these clues.
It is a pro guide that is customizable to suit product taxonomies of multiple channels and marketplaces and lets you manage categories. It standardizes incoming catalog data feeds and ensures compliance and accuracy of product data making it easier for your customers to find what they are looking for.
You can read more about it in this blog for a broader understanding of the tool.
For further queries reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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