In the dawn of ecommerce, it was once enough to create a website, direct potential customers to it, and sell your products to those customers right there on your website. That age of the internet is over. For most businesses, it is still important to have a website as part of an overall online presence, but it is just one cog in the machine and frankly, not the most important one. This is especially true in the B2B market.
Businesses have easy access to Facebook Marketplace, advertisements on YouTube and social media, and free communication through WhatsApp. These tools and others help a business get momentum and start selling immediately, but they have a very limited reach. Serious B2B buyers find these channels cluttered, noisy, and difficult to navigate.
B2B suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and traders have to take strategic steps to improve their online visibility that go beyond a website alone. Not doing so will significantly restrict growth or put the business at risk for collapse.
B2B Buyer Behavior Has Changed
The internet makes it easy for buyers to gather high-quality information about potential suppliers. As a result, suppliers have fewer opportunities to influence buying decisions, even though the B2B buying process continues to be complex in comparison to say, consumer shopping.
B2B research firm Gartner says that all of this complexity means that today’s buyers “value suppliers that make it easier for them to navigate the purchase process.” A report by The Future of Commerce found that 72% of B2B customers want self-service access to accounts and orders. This is why more and more B2B buyers are turning to ecommerce marketplaces to identify suppliers, research alternatives, and ultimately, make B2B purchases.
B2B Marketplaces Are Integral Components to an Online Presence
B2B marketplaces are uniquely effective in marketing products internationally. They allow suppliers to familiarize buyers with their company and offer those international B2B buyers specific products in the buying format they prefer. There are five compelling online advantages that SMEs will gain from listing in B2B marketplaces to enter global markets.
- B2B buyers search for products and services in marketplaces because these portals yield better results than wide-web searches. B2B suppliers listing on marketplaces gain a leg up over competitors by an improved brand image, connection to limitless potential customers at the early stage of the buying decision, and lead generation that has higher conversion rates.
- B2B marketplaces are spaces where a company can enjoy cost effective online marketing. Most marketplaces allow a free standard listing. For a relatively low cost, B2B suppliers can become a premium member that gives their company increased exposure, higher ranking within the portal itself, and other functionalities that improve conversion rates.
- B2B marketplaces offer verification processes, which improve buyer confidence and supplier sales. Some share buyer reviews and feedback, too, which stands to benefit B2B suppliers who receive favorable ratings.
- Listing in a B2B marketplace allows suppliers to be discoverable in buyer searches that happen online through Google, Bing and other search engines. Showing up on these search results hedges your business against the risk of becoming stagnant or even extinct.
- B2B suppliers can more effectively target the right buyers within a marketplace. Rather than casting a wide net over the entire web, a business can fish in more densely buyer-populated waters.
Fail to Innovate and You Will Fail
The business world is filled with stories of businesses big and small who failed to innovate. Blockbuster is a popular example. When approached by Netflix, who offered to purchase the declining business for $50 million, the CEO declined citing that Netflix was a “very small niche business.” Today, Netflix is valued at nearly $170 billion. And Blockbuster? They are completely busted.
Toys “R” Us missed their chance to develop an e-commerce presence. In 2017 they announced plans to revamp their website and jump start their ecommerce business. It was far too late and the mega-retailer closed over 700 stores in 2018 alone.
If your B2B business has not fully integrated your online presence, you risk missing your chance, too. Fail to innovate and your business will fail. Take your B2B business in the right direction by improving your online presence, targeting new markets and buyers, and increasing sales within B2B marketplaces. TradeLeaves BLISS and Marketplace connect SMEs with buyers on a global scale, improve a supplier’s online presence, and help businesses grow. Let us know how we can help your SME become more visible and discoverable to B2B buyers.