B2B webshops are making a breakthrough into new industries. What is it all about and how can one identify the need for B2B webshop in ones’ own organisation?

A B2B webshop is a cost-efficient channel to reach and serve both new and existing customers. Importers and wholesalers have long offered service portals that have minimised the amount of time their salespeople spend working on relatively small customer accounts. The next wave is sweeping over the realm of B2B.

B2B webshop as an effective after-sales solution

When a relatively small proportion of your customers generates the lion's share of your turnover, the large masses must be served efficiently. The customer relationship can easily end up in a reactive state with the smaller customers due to lack of efficient means. For example, an electronic self-service channel is almost always a more (cost-)effective alternative for industrial companies to serve small customers – where the real profit is made in sales of spare parts and supplies as part of after-sales service – than allocating salesperson’s time and effort for the client.

In online stores designed for companies, the important thing is to serve customers as individuals on their own terms. For example in B2B online stores designed for after-sales services a customer will be offered spare parts and services based on their purchase history.

China is in the competition for real

When a lift supplied by KONE breaks down in Italy or Argentina and a local maintenance firm is called out to the site, the maintenance firm can find almost 12,000 products by searching for "Kone elevator" on Alibaba, the world's largest B2B online store. In a short time, China has become a serious competitor in the field of after-sales service for the industrial industry. As the prices of spare parts available on Alibaba have fallen to a fraction of the prices of official parts, the Finnish lift giant has to offer maintenance firms better and more individual service without eating away profits.

Recognise the need for an electronic ordering channel

Five signs that can help you can recognise a need for B2B webshop to boost sales:

  1. You have a large number of customers but most of them only account for a small amount of turnover.
  2. Your salespeople are reactive, waiting for orders. For customers, the main reason to contact salespeople is to find out about availability and pricing, and to place orders.
  3. Follow-up sales are connected to products that the customer already owns.
  4. Your competitors are already selling equivalent products and services online.
  5. The customer is a retailer of the products and needs up-to-date product information.

The added value generated by a B2B webshop, extranet or dealer portal depends on how much the service is used. The better a service is at addressing customers' needs and problems, the more it will free up sales resources and become more productive.

Peter Silvennoinen avatar