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Behind the click: Challenges of B2B ecommerce that every entrepreneur should know

Overcoming the challenges of B2B ecommerce in 2024.

Without a doubt, B2B ecommerce has revolutionized the way companies transact, offering unprecedented opportunities to expand markets and optimize processes. However, behind this façade of efficiency and convenience, there are important challenges that can complicate the path to success.

In this article, we will explore in detail what the challenges of B2B ecommerce are today, providing a comprehensive view of the barriers that companies face in this dynamic and competitive environment. From systems integration to customer and supplier relationship management, you'll discover the key obstacles and how to overcome them to take full advantage of the benefits of B2B ecommerce.

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The 9 challenges of B2B ecommerce that you must face

Traveling through the world of B2B eCommerce may seem like a promising journey, filled with opportunities for growth and efficiency. However, companies often encounter obstacles that can complicate the path.

Below we share a list where we have compiled the most relevant challenges of B2B ecommerce and we also offer you practical strategies to overcome them. Discover how to address these obstacles and take your business to a new stage.

1. Maintain customer relationships in B2B ecommerce

One of the biggest challenges of B2B ecommerce is maintaining and nurturing customer relationships in the digital age. In this report regarding B2B buyers, it is revealed that 84% of B2B buyers would prefer to buy from a supplier with whom they have an excellent relationship, even if the competition's commercial terms were more favorable.

The long-term value of B2B customers is much greater than that of B2C buyers, making positive customer relationships even more important. The key to fostering strong relationships with your customers online is to offer an exceptional experience. This means developing a B2B ecommerce store fast and easy to use that provides reliable, transparent and accurate information to your clients, whenever and wherever they need it.

Another challenge, considering the complexity of the B2B purchasing process, is helping your customers make that transition to the digital environment. More than 50% of B2B companies now place orders through ecommerce stores (up from 28% in 2019).

So how can businesses support their customers in ordering online? A key way to do this is to educate your sales teams. When your sales representatives understand how your ecommerce store works, they can easily guide your customers through the digital process, while collecting valuable customer feedback about your web store.

2. Find the right market and do competitive analysis

Ecommerce businesses may have even more competition than physical stores. In most cases, consumers can compare a company's products to all other offerings available online globally, rather than just those stores or products available in a single city or region. Ensuring that your business remains on your customers' radar is a major challenge of B2B ecommerce. Therefore, it is critical for online stores to find the right market and understand the competitors active in that particular market.

On the other hand, a solid competitor analysis allows B2B ecommerce sellers to better understand their market and how other sellers approach it. To create a successful ecommerce marketing strategy, you must conduct a solid competitor analysis that includes:

  • Research the products and services offered by competitors
  • Review competitors' pricing scheme
  • Learn about your competitors' marketing strategies, including where and how they advertise
  • Discover what promotions, discounts and benefits competitors offer

When you become an expert on your competitors' businesses and products, it is easier to identify your market and how you can stand out in it.

3. Select the right technology

Whether you implement a wholesale ecommerce business model or sell products directly to consumers, the right technology is crucial to your success. A solid ecommerce platform keeps your inventory organized and ensures your customer has a good experience with your brand.

As your business and online sales grow, so can the technologies you need to properly support your business growth. To ensure you'll have room to scale, it's important to consider how easily and economically your chosen technology stack can integrate with your future technology needs (e.g. integrate with tools that use AI).

When choosing the technology you need for your online B2B business, don't forget to consider:

  • How the software helps with the ordering process
  • Whether it is easy to fulfill orders quickly through the software's order management system
  • The customer purchasing experience
  • If all staff members can easily access and operate the software
  • Inventory accuracy, numbers and statistics
  • Your ability to customize the software to your business needs

New technologies can help you avoid errors in online orders to reduce your return rate and keep customers satisfied. An easy-to-navigate customer portal is crucial for keeping track of orders and recording customer details. This data can later be used to decide how much inventory you need and to maintain contact with customers.

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4. Cybersecurity and data

Another challenge of B2B ecommerce is having adequate security and data management measures in your online store. To serve customers efficiently, your ecommerce business must store data such as customer names, contact information, order history, and payment methods.

Well, consumers trust your business to collect, store and use this data carefully. Cybersecurity measures for your ecommerce site are key to maintaining this trust.

To ensure you have the correct procedures, it is important to:

  • Train your company's talent on how to keep data secure
  • Make sure you and your staff know all consumer data privacy laws
  • Implement a secure data storage plan with robust and secure software
  • Maintain and update your software regularly
  • Frequently change system passwords
  • Create a contingency plan to address cybersecurity attacks or data breaches

Data storage and cybersecurity is a unique challenge for B2B ecommerce businesses. This is because most physical retailers do not need to worry about this important aspect. Staying alert for suspicious behavior and training staff on how to identify potential threats helps keep your data safe.

5. Marketing, visibility and lead conversion

Physical retailers can focus their marketing efforts on eye-catching signage or participation in community events. As an ecommerce business, you will face different challenges related to marketing. This is why your marketing plan should focus on online visibility and converting “traffic” into customers.

To create an effective marketing campaign, remember:

  • Identify your target customer and adapt marketing messages to them
  • Track leads and segment them into different categories
  • Stay in regular contact with email subscribers
  • Develop a consistent brand voice that is used on your social networks, website and other channels

As an online business, you have numerous digital marketing opportunities that can help increase brand exposure. Take advantage of these opportunities to gain visibility and convert more sales.

6. Meet the demands of a complex B2B purchasing process

Compared to B2C, the B2B buying process is a completely different game. With longer purchasing processes, more decision makers, customer-specific terms, extensive product lines, bulk orders, and additional industry complexities to consider, B2B companies face more complex challenges going online than B2C retailers.

To meet customer expectations, manufacturers and distributors need to accommodate all of these needs within their ecommerce store while offering customers the personalized, smart, and easy-to-use shopping experience they expect when shopping at B2C ecommerce stores.

Have ecommerce software that puts the customer first and adapts to the B2B context is a key component to achieving success in ecommerce.

7. Prices and shipping

While B2B ecommerce companies don't pay rent for retail space, they do have to consider inventory and shipping costs. The price of your products is a crucial component for success and one of the main challenges for B2B ecommerce companies.

You want to be competitive, but you also want to make a profit. When determining product prices and shipping costs, don't forget to think about:

  • Product manufacturing costs
  • Inventory storage costs you are incurring
  • Cost of shipping items and shipping parameters you can offer
  • Number of product returns you experience on average
  • Customer-specific pricing (something to consider for loyal customers or regular, large orders)

The truth is, there is a fine line between offering competitive prices and making sure your business makes a profit. You may need to continually adjust prices to meet customer expectations and make a profit on sales.

8. Return and refund policies

These days, online shoppers tend to be more wary of retailers that have complicated return or refund policies. When ecommerce companies do not offer returns or refunds, consumers may hesitate to place an order.

A simple return and refund policy is crucial to increasing sales. When developing your policy, it is important to:

  • Create an easy-to-understand return or refund policy without many exceptions
  • Decide how you will handle return shipping costs
  • Be flexible about returning damaged, incorrect or non-working items
  • Make sure your return policy does not it affects your income too much

9. Increased sales and long-term growth

Implementing these strategies can increase sales and allow you to create a large customer base. However, maintaining this long-term growth is what is important for the sustainability of your business and can be one of the main challenges of B2B ecommerce. To ensure you remain profitable, don't forget:

  • Analyze your inventory costs and reduce them where possible
  • Try to reduce shipping costs whenever possible
  • Investigate order returns and try to minimize the financial impact
  • Read customer reviews and make improvements where necessary
  • Make sure your software ecommerce and website are always up to date
  • Verify that all business interactions foster stronger customer relationships

Now is your turn!

As you must already be clear, The world of B2B eCommerce presents a number of unique challenges that require specific strategies to overcome them one by one. From maintaining strong customer relationships to navigating the complexity of the purchasing process and ensuring data security, every obstacle offers opportunities for growth and improvement.

By implementing the strategies we have shared and maintaining a customer-centric approach, companies can not only overcome these challenges but also achieve long-term sustainable growth. It is essential to constantly adapt, stay up to date with market trends and look for innovative ways to improve the customer experience.

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the challenges of B2B ecommerce, it's time to act. Implement these strategies in your business and watch your sales increase and your company grow. Don't wait any longer to take your business into the future in the exciting B2B journey!

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