5 Key Components of a Well-Defined B2B Strategy

Digital Commerce - B2B Strategy
Digital Commerce - B2B Strategy

B2B businesses are moving into a new phase of digital development. This shift is happening because of improvements in technology, changes in what customers want, and strong competition. A key part of this change is using a well-planned digital B2B strategy and a strong online platform.

The business-to-business (B2B) landscape has experienced a remarkable shift, with nearly half of all B2B transactions now affected by digital channels. This trend is poised to continue: 70% of B2B buyers are showing a clear preference toward digital or remote interactions over traditional face-to-face engagements.

Embracing a digital B2B strategy and building a robust online platform are absolute. It’s not about adopting the latest tech buzzwords, but in designing an approach that caters specifically to business needs and goals, and, more importantly, the customers. The first step in this process is to understand the significance of digital B2B strategy and platform.

Navigating the intricacies of B2B e-commerce can be daunting — but it doesn't have to be. In this article, we will probe further into the significance of deploying a digital B2B strategy, complemented by an efficient B2B platform.

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Exploring digital B2B sales channels

Let’s consider two prevalent B2B sales scenarios — those involving professional buyers and those from wholesale/distributor buyers. Each group has unique preferences and requirements that shape their purchasing journey. These are just two examples of B2B sales scenarios, but there are many more. Some B2B platforms cater to both professional and wholesale buyers, while others are simpler.

The digital platforms must reflect these disparities and provide a bespoke user experience and B2B transactions tailored to their needs:

Professional buyer: They represent businesses that require supplies to deliver their services. Examples include hairdressers, dental professionals, restaurant owners, small store owners, and office administrators purchasing office supplies. These buyers seek comprehensive product information, expect promotions, and prefer online payment processing.

During their visit to the online platform, their buying decisions can be influenced by product recommendations and additional discounts. Access to the platform typically involves a self-registration process, sometimes with optional moderation based on certain criteria such as a professional license or geographic location.

High-scale resale buyer: For wholesale or distributor buyers, platform capabilities are primarily focused on the order acquisition and tracking. These platforms often have restricted access based on signed contracts, and payments are processed offline. Catalogs on these platforms prioritize the ease of ordering many products at a high scale, such as pallets or full trucks.

A key challenge in these solutions is implementing mechanisms that ensure orders meet commercial and logistics terms. For example, verifying if orders comply with criteria related to commercial terms (i.e., allocations) and logistics terms (i.e., appropriate transportation methods for the ordered items).


Defining the key priorities for the digital B2B platform

Formulating an effective strategy always begins with clearly defining the objectives that a company wants to achieve. What is the investment thesis supporting the digital B2B platform, and which benefits should the company prioritize?

Here are some key priorities to focus on:

Streamlining order processing, billing, and customer service: B2B e-commerce platforms should be able to streamlining, if not automate, order processing, billing, and customer service. Sales representatives can then focus on building long-term relationships by enabling customers to place orders directly online instead of getting bogged down with order data entry. This only reduces operational costs but also frees up valuable time for staff to tackle more complex tasks.

Concentrate on the following:

  • High-level automation: Achieve deeper integration with your existing IT ecosystem.

  • Adoption glidepath: Establish a solid reporting system to measure your progress.

  • Effective communication: Ensure communication with internal and external partners for high customer adoption levels and sales team support.

  • Robust solution with great UI/UX: Make it easy for the team and customers to navigate the platform. This secures their trust and commitment to a complete digital channel switch.

  • Starting small: It's perfectly fine to start small, like only offering access to product catalog information (without ordering capabilities) or limiting access solely to order tracking for orders placed via offline channels. 

Eliminating the need for continuous sales representative interactions: Customers expect seamless experiences, and a B2B e-commerce platform caters perfectly to this demand. Customers can place orders, access real-time inventory data, review their order history, or tailor their orders. For these benefits to materialize, concentrate on the following:

  • Understand customer needs. Identify major pains in the current ordering process by directly engaging with your customers through interviews and address these issues with your digital solution.

  • Provide comprehensive and latest information. Offer customers updated and extensive information such as pricing, stock, and lead times. This feature may necessitate additional work on integration.

  • Deliver an excellent onboarding process. Create exemplary onboarding experiences, such as through instructional videos or self-guided interactive wizards.

  • Choose a reliable, user-friendly solution. Cultivate trust with your team and customers by selecting a robust solution that delivers an excellent user experience. You encourage their transition to the digital channel by ensuring the platform's reliability and user-friendliness.


Expanding beyond traditional market boundaries: An online channel opens endless possibilities. You can reach a wider customer base by expanding beyond your traditional market boundaries (e.g., geography, demographics) With a round-the-clock global transaction, you can capture sales at any time, from anywhere in the world. B2B e-commerce also unlocks the potential for cross-selling and upselling, which allows for increasing the average order value. To maximize these advantages, consider the following:

  • Activate a public portal. Offer a fast, easy-to-use self-registration public portal (which you can moderate if necessary).

  • Implement marketing strategies. Drive an influx of new customers to the registration page with a targeted marketing strategy and budget.

  • Tailor attractive offerings. Cultivate appealing offerings to capture the customer segments you aim to target, including international support and multicurrency options.

  • Deploy search and recommendation engines. Implement powerful search and recommendation engines to enhance user experience and satisfaction.

Redefining the marketing strategy with data: B2B platforms collect a treasure trove of valuable information about customer behaviors. Utilizing this data can enhance decision-making processes, tailor offerings, and polish marketing strategies. Predictive analytics can further empower the business by predicting future customer behaviors. Focus on:

  • Defining datasets. Define a dataset that helps in making better decisions and that can be extracted from a digital B2B platform. Start with a decision-driven approach to focus on collecting the necessary data.

  • Enabling an e-commerce analytics framework. Establish a robust analytics framework.

  • Integrating data. Develop an integration scheme for data coming from the digital B2B platform and existing databases, such as customer relationship management (CRM).

  • Refining the ongoing data process. Ensure that customers gain material value from the data gathered using the B2B platform.

  • Identifying new data opportunities. Stay vigilant for new data opportunities.

Using the B2B platform as a playground for innovation: B2B e-commerce also offers opportunities to experiment with new ideas and business models. The platform can be a testbed for launching new products, exploring pricing strategies, implementing new marketing techniques, or improving customer service initiatives. Strive for:

  • A flexible IT solution. Implement a lightweight IT solution that facilitates swift changes in the presentation layer and sales process.

  • A strong analytics framework. Use a robust analytics layer to track and measure the impact of experiments.

  • Deep understanding of audience. Gain a good understanding of your audience and their appetite for innovation




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Key components of a well-defined B2B strategy

Despite its benefits, B2B e-commerce also comes with challenges and complexities. Succeeding in this endeavor entails a clear, holistic strategy covering key facets of the online business. Ensure that the following elements are incorporated:

Metrics: Measuring success

  • Order acquisition cost online vs. traditional sales rep process: Evaluate and compare the expenses related to online order acquisition, such as developing and maintaining the e-commerce platform and digital marketing, with the costs associated with the traditional sales representative process, which encompass salaries, travel expenses, and other related costs. If digital transaction costs are too high, reassess the key components of the digital operations’ cost structure such as licensing, maintenance, and support. Then, explore alternative approaches to strike a balance between efficiency and expenditure.

  • Adoption and churn: Achieving target adoption rates and minimizing customer turnover are vital in expanding digital B2B revenue. Develop a comprehensive plan aimed at boosting user adoption and lowering customer churn to grow the online customer base.

    If adoption is low and/or if churn rates are high, ensure that the onboarding process, including communication, is comprehensive and effective. Direct feedback from customers leaving the platform also provide valuable insights. Address and rectify any critical issues affecting the user experience to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Average order value (AOV): Maximize revenue potential through strategic approaches such as AI-driven cross-selling and upselling. Additional relevant products or upgrades can also help increase the AOV and profitability. In B2B, improving this metric can often involve a protracted process, requiring alterations to the product portfolio and pricing structures. These adaptations should ideally cater to the decision-making patterns of digital buyers.

    Consider using offline strategies to see results more quickly. These could include discount policies, demo products as add-ons, or stricter minimums in logistics with a recommendation engine to support buyers in meeting these requirements.

  • Streamlined touchless orders: Refine the e-commerce process to facilitate touchless orders, which will minimize manual intervention and enhance overall efficiency. Tackle edge cases that require manual intervention one by one and usher in a seamless, automated process. Proactively maintain the platform to ensure its optimal performance, prevent potential disruptions, and enhance the user experience.

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): Cultivating loyalty and encouraging repeat business often prove more lucrative than acquiring new clients. Specify the level of CLV necessary for the digital channel to rationalize the investments made. For a multichannel organization, it's vital to clearly define the method for attributing revenue for cross-channel sales.

  • Conversion rates: Implement effective strategies, such as ongoing enhancements to the website's UX based on gathered data, to boost conversion rates. Ensure that the correct benchmark is referenced when evaluating trends. For instance, exclude users who lack the access level to place orders, or those whose intent doesn't align with shopping, such as sessions wholly confined to the order tracking section.

  • Cross-channel orders. If the business operates multiple B2B channels, such as offline, marketplaces, or partners, carefully manage any possible conflicts. Identify the most promising channels and allocate resources accordingly. Promote the digital channel for scenarios involving a high level of standardization, thereby reducing the number of edge cases that might disrupt operations and potentially affect customer satisfaction levels.


Team and capabilities: Having the right people and resources to run the B2B e-commerce platform 

  • Capability gaps: Seek out potential hindrances to operations and address them through strategic hiring or targeted training. Enhancements in the team's capabilities can span multiple areas:

    • Marketing

    • Content management

    • Offering and promotion management

    • Fulfilment

    • Account receivables

    • Customer service (pre- and postsale)

    • IT

    • Analytics and reporting

  • Trainings and onboarding: Develop a comprehensive training and onboarding program for your team members to enhance their skills and knowledge.

  • Automation opportunities. Automate repetitive tasks and utilize technology to reduce human errors and streamline processes, which help allocate more time and resources to value-added activities. Opportunities for automation include:

    • Deep integration with existing IT ecosystem.

    • Implementation of support and FAQ chatbots.

    • Establishment of an automated ordering process, including one-click reordering, subscriptions, template-based orders, distribution lists, and recommended items.

    • Development of robust and well-documented APIs for use by both external and internal partners, which improves workflow automation.

    • Monitoring of the health of the IT platform and enablement of self-healing capabilities.

Customer experience: Ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty

  • Smooth onboarding process: Enable customers to start quickly and seamlessly using the platform’s services to promote customer usage and retention.

  • UI/UX design: Dedicate resources to craft an appealing and user-centered interface for your platform. A meticulous and well-thought-out user interface can elevate the overall user experience, augment customer satisfaction, and foster engagement.

  • Streamlined fulfillment process: Efficiently manage the order fulfillment process by streamlining operations to ensure quick and accurate delivery.

  • Excellent customer service: Provide timely assistance and resolve issues and concerns promptly and effectively.

  • High-quality content: Engaging content not only captivates audience but also improves search engine optimization (SEO) rankings, drives organic traffic, and boosts online visibility.

  • Accurate and current information. Always maintain up-to-date and accurate data on product features, pricing, stock availability, and lead times for delivery.

Technology: Ensuring the platform’s reliability, security, and scalability

  • Optimal performance: Ensure that the e-commerce platform delivers high performance to provide a smooth and seamless user experience.

  • Platform stability: Maintain the platform’s stability to avoid downtime and ensure uninterrupted service.

  • Robust security measures. Protecting sensitive data and prioritizing data security reassures customers that their information is secure and enables them to transact confidently.

  • Scalability: Ensure that the platform can scale to accommodate future growth in both customer base and transaction volume. Scalability allows you to handle increasing demand without sacrificing performance or user experience.

  • Agile methodologies. Adopting Agile methodologies can help in seizing opportunities as they arise and swiftly adapting to dynamic customer needs and market trends. DORA metrics can be used to assess IT team performance.

  • Effective licensing management: Proactively monitor and renew licenses to ensure legal compliance and avoid unexpected costs.

Data: Using data to make better business decisions

  • Decision architecture frameworks. Establish a data-driven framework to make informed decisions.

  • Data availability and accessibility. Implement robust data management systems that enable the business to efficiently access and utilize the information needed.

Digital transformation demands a clear and comprehensive strategy, a competent team, an unfaltering focus on customer experience, a keen eye on emerging technologies, and an adeptness at using data. Armed with these pillars, a digital B2B strategy becomes an effective conduit of transformation, offering a strong foundation for meeting business objectives.

Lingaro Group’s digital commerce practice works with enterprises and global brands in designing, developing, and deploying e-commerce systems and digital marketplaces enabled by data and analytics. Our end-to-end solutions cover the entire journey in digital commerce — from strategic consulting, e-commerce strategy, IT architecture design, UI/UX prototyping and e-commerce development to D2C, B2C, and B2B platforms.

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