Selling with e-commerce

How to prepare for B2B cross-border sales

What you’ll learn

  • the options available for B2B e-commerce
  • how a business gets ready for B2B exporting online
  • what your business needs to export B2B effectively using e-commerce

Why self-service e-commerce is more important than ever for B2B

There’s been a trend to more digital B2B as technology has opened up new opportunities for trade. This was accelerated during the global pandemic when international travel and traditional face-to-face sales abroad became harder for many companies.

So, if you’re a B2B company, exporting online with self-service and remote interaction tools might be a cost-effective and easy way for you to begin trading in new markets and reaching new buyers.

What you’ll need to get started

You should explore the following options and make decisions on what’s right for you:

  • consider a dedicated B2B website
  • look at e-markeplaces
  • build an e-commerce-ready sales team
  • research your buyers
  • process and collect online orders
  • get ready to fulfil online orders

Dedicated B2B website

Consider using a .com domain (or even a local country domain if you have the budget to maintain more than one site) rather than co.uk, as it signals that you’re ready to trade internationally. 

Many companies have a B2C site that features a link to a dedicated B2B site for which the buyer can create a login account.

E-marketplaces

International B2B e-marketplaces, also known as online marketplaces, are virtual exhibiting sites that showcase your business to new markets for a low cost. Examples include range.me, Ankorstore, Joor, NuOrder, Retaissance, Export Worldwide, Alibaba, DirectIndustry and Amazon Business. Each one has different acceptance criteria, so do your research before you try to join. 

For companies, particularly those without an international site, e-marketplaces are a ready-made platform to reach any market. If you do have a B2B website, the e-marketplace works alongside it to create additional leads. 

E-marketplaces make it easier and faster for buyers to find what they want than traditional ways of B2B commerce. This means that:

  • buyers can use the search/filtering tools on e-marketplaces to find you
  • you’re not reliant on your website to show up in buyer internet searches
  • your sales team spends more time responding to buyer enquiries rather than finding leads

B2B-specific e-marketplaces let you:

  • apply for bulk orders
  • accept different payment types
  • edit purchase orders
  • give quantity discounts
  • give quotations and requests for proposals for orders
  • offer pricing by customer
  • reach buyers for leading stockists, such as as Walgreens, Target, Nordstrom, Bed, Bath and Beyond
  • set a minimum order quantity

As with your B2B website, you’ll need to consider translation, professional photography and video to display your products or services to their best advantage.

You can also help your company stand out on some e-marketplaces by using its promotional and advertising functions.

E-commerce-ready sales team

In contrast to traditional exporting methods, the role of your sales team will largely change from chasing leads and building relationships in person.

Much of the team’s work will now involve managing your brand online, responding to enquiries and processing sales orders from buyers who already know about and are interested in your product. They’ll do this using video-call platforms and live chat functions, so you’ll need to think about which ones to use.

These enquiries could come from anywhere and at any time of the day or night.

Researching your buyers

It’s worth considering the demographic of the buyers in your industry, how they work and how they think. Will they:

  • be using a mix of traditional and digital commerce or be digital only?
  • be using desktop computers and mobile or mobile only?
  • be searching social media for new products?
  • be looking for new and innovative products that sell quickly?
  • be looking for products pitched to a certain market and displayed in a certain way?
  • want to meet in person sometimes?

B2B e-commerce is 24/7, so you can sell when you’re sleeping. And you get much more statistical information than with traditional commerce, so you can analyse and really drill down into what’s working for you. It’s information that you can monitor.

International trade adviser

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