Opening Your B2B Website Up to the Public: The Convergence of Sales Channels

2 minute read

Five Features to Include in Your B2B eCommerce Site

Today’s B2B customers expect a B2C experience when they visit your eCommerce site. But deciding to sell to consumers in addition to your distributor network is a big leap with several considerations. Channel conflict is an issue for many companies, especially with the internet allowing anyone to sell via the web; it might be difficult to start selling to consumers without upsetting your existing distributor partners – they may see it as competition, so minimize channel conflict where possible.

A lot depends on your specific circumstances. For example, which markets do your distributors cover? If they focus on consumers, opening up your website can be risky. Proceed incrementally and avoid actions that might pull the plug on existing sales until you have clear indications of success.

Opening your eCommerce site to B2C commerce is likely to increase your sales. According to Forrester Research (on behalf of Digital River), 52% of consumers already visit manufacturers’ websites intending to buy, and a third of those would prefer to purchase from the manufacturer. Additionally, a CommerceHub study found that 30% of brands believe selling directly to consumers is a smart way to increase brand awareness and an opportunity for growth.

Converting Your B2B Website to Sell to Consumers

If you decide to sell direct to consumers, you have several options. To prevent confusion, you could create separate websites – one for B2B, one for B2C. This option, however, is problematic because it doubles your workload: you must maintain two product databases, two customer accounts, two pricing structures, etc.

A more straightforward method is combining the two in a single domain that makes it clear you service both distributors and consumers. To make your distribution channel partners less wary about this new sales channel, set consumer prices slightly higher, keep some items available only to distributors, and password protect the distributor section to ensure that their discounted pricing stays secure.

Use erpCommerce to Make Your Life Easier

Whichever you choose, selling directly to consumers is a big move, and you’ll need a solution that seamlessly integrates with your ERP through APIs and ERP maps. This will allow your ERP data (e.g., customer data, order data and item data) to flow into your eCommerce platform so information like your product numbers, images, descriptions, and dimensions as well as your customer addresses, contact info, customer numbers, pricing, and shipping information is automatically shared between the two systems, without manual reentry.

Are you considering opening your B2B channel up to B2C commerce? It’s a decision that requires a lot of thought and planning. Luckily, we can help – please contact us today for more information.