29 April 2022

5 steps to open b2b online

To launch sales in B2B is not as difficult as doing it successfully. Rapid digitalization of B2B contributes to competition increase and makes the launch more difficult. Among the competitors in the wholesale and Business-to-Business markets, there are not only novices but also respectable companies with large budgets. A large percentage of companies have started entering the online B2B market since 2020. Nasdaq’s analysis shows that by 2040 almost 95% of purchases will be made online. According to Gartner’s forecast, “by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.” As more and more customers prefer to shop online, the inability to adapt to general trends and to introduce e-commerce leads to the loss of clients and profits.

According to development of the market, you have to notice e-commerce prospects. It still seems realistic to open a b2b online trading channel. Read 5 steps to make it.

Step 1. Analyze

Define your competence and your team’s specialization level. Determine what opportunities you have and try to distinguish relationships and contacts you can use.
Starting a business in the B2B sector is harder than in retail. However, the market is changing due to digitalization and development of online services. It’s time to explore new ways for startups to enter even the most competitive B2B niches. 
For the most successful launch, it is better to take into account all the resources you have – not only sales department skills but also competitive advantages of the company, as well as all connections and all kinds of contacts in related fields.
To move an existing business online or to open a new one use someone else's experience. Find and analyze information about work of similar enterprises. Your own views and established perceptions may prevent you from looking at the launch of a b2b product from a new and more promising angle. Don't be afraid to apply fresh techniques, especially if they have already been successfully implemented by other companies.
Leonid Val – ex-senior methodologist of Microsoft Inc. training program – noticed that the pandemic and lockdown didn’t worsen situation but showed weak points in large companies’ work that were not ready to change the habitual working mode. Companies that quickly reoriented themselves began to grow rapidly during the spread of the pandemic. Leonid mentions one of the enterprises grew in revenue by 5 times because of improved inner processes on time as an example.

Step 2. Estimate the Real Market Needs

To achieve this goal you have to conduct research on modern market structure, and study its volumes and conjuncture, features, and market trends direction. Try to understand which product is in demand on the market, especially online. It is better to change your business hypothesis at the stage of analysis rather than as a consequence of unsuccessful investment of enormous budgets in purchase of goods or manufacture.

  1. You need to understand your target audience. Collect all available data and analyze whether an actual market demand for the product is among the target audience. You have to analyze key needs and TA behavior in the selected region. You can make a customer portrait based on this data and determine client’s requests and wishes for the product. It is important to do this before opening a b2b online sales channel.
  2. Search similar products on the market and explore buyer’s satisfaction (the final retail and wholesalers) with the presented assortment and product quality. Identify factors that influence re-ordering products like yours. Find out whether the market is full of such products in future and analyze the market share of your company's goods in a certain  B2B market segment.
  3. Compare prices. Before digitizing an existing B2B business or opening a new b2b online sales channel explore the current structure of price offers in industry and region.
  4. Appreciate the market opportunities. Determine an existence of related promising niches that can be tapped.

Collecting data helps to see a holistic picture of the current market needs. Thus you have the information about how widely products of the selected category are represented and whether a real need for them from buyers exists.
After this stage, you may change some processes in the strategy of launching your B2B online channel taking into account real market needs.

Step 3. Explore Your Competitors

All successful companies explore their competitors. This strategy helps to save time and other company’s resources and to find out disadvantages that others make.  Analysis of competitors will keep you from making mistakes. At this step, it is necessary to identify key players in the B2B market in the chosen niche and conduct a brief competitive analysis for each of them:

Try to determine an image characteristics of competing companies, and their advantages and disadvantages. Think about how you can benefit from the data obtained for your company and take this into account in your strategy before opening a B2B online sales channel.

Step 4. Search for Partnerships

The B2B sphere is narrower than the B2C market. Partnerships can help to get the largest and most profitable B2B clients. Recommendations from other companies give an advantage. Think about what connections can help if you decide to digitize your existing B2B business or open a new B2B business. You can make an electronic data interchange with your partners.

Technological solutions providers used to enter into alliances offering not only their own solution but immediately providing users with necessary accompanying options. A trading platform with integration of logistics, banking, and insurance services is an excellent teamwork example. Vendor AGORA has a wealth of experience in implementing such solutions. This is a B2B/B2C marketplace of services with earnings for owner through the possibility of offering additional services to service providers (including loans in Solaris Bank, an application can be submitted directly on-site).

Step 5. Be Flexible to Modern Conditions

Today digitalization is penetrating into all spheres and the market is changing rapidly. Don’t be afraid of changes and try to be flexible to modern conditions. Your flexibility will help you to get a lot of advantages in comparison with your competitors. Open a B2B online sales channel as quickly as possible. For example, creation of a basic version of a marketplace based on the AGORA B2B platform will take only 2 months, and implementation will take 2 weeks. The modular structure of the system allows you to add modules (matching, billing, commodity card export module, etc.) during the trading platform work. You can also rebuild system configurations due to the structure by constructor type. In a short time, various business strategies and hypotheses are tested in practice. This is faster than developing web solutions from scratch.

In pre-crisis times it was not too difficult to open a B2B and B2C enterprise, despite high consumer incomes and low competition. Many companies have maintained the level of profit for many years with weak business indicators: to put the desired profitability in the final price was enough. The pandemic and the protracted crisis have dramatically changed the situation. A buyer no longer wants to pay too much for low-quality products or services. Now companies have to try a lot to make money. Opening an online sales channel is only a first step. You also have to develop it in order to stay in the market niche. Follow the market dynamics and introduce promising technologies among the first. And your business will be one of the most stable in an era of change.