Benefits of Buying from a B2B Marketplace
Why better prices and cheap deals are available on B2B marketplaces.
The Indian e-commerce industry has witnessed rapid growth over the past few years. Convenience, quick delivery option and seamless payment procedure are the reasons behind the flourishing of the e-commerce industry as a whole. The B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce market is also booming at an unprecedented rate. This particular industry is expected to be estimated to reach about INR 45 lakh crore in a couple of years. However, a B2B marketplace buyer is entirely different from a customer that is purchasing from a B2C portal. The former’s buying decision is dependent on profitability and value of money, instead of factors like product popularity, sensitivity or peer pressure. The products offered on a B2B marketplace are targeted at businesses and large enterprises, instead of individuals. Take, for example, if a company requires thousands of laptops for their employees, the B2B marketplace is the ideal place for shopping.
Buying through online B2B portals has numerous advantages, the main one being convenience. Buyers are provided with the opportunity to buy a variety of products from the comfort of their home with just a tap of the finger. It eliminates the need for transporting goods from one point to another, saving both time and effort. Moreover, the 24/7 access to products makes shopping through online portals compelling. There are no geographical barriers as buyers can purchase products from retailers in any corner of the country, or even the world.
Since the products come directly from the manufacturer or the seller without the presence of any middleman, better prices and cheap deals are available on B2B marketplaces. Most of the e-commerce portals often offer lucrative discounts and rebates. Ordering above a certain limit also removes the delivery charges. Besides, businesses have the leverage to compare prices of the same products on different portals to find the best value.
In a price-sensitive country like India where buyers spend a considerable amount of time before
making a purchase decision, the ability to compare prices plays a crucial role. Additionally, many B2B online portals don’t even charge for sales tax out-ofstate, though it can vary.
Lastly, online portals offer a wide array of options to choose from. Businesses can get many categories of brands and products from different sellers in one place. Some online portals also accept orders for products that are out of stock and ship it later when it becomes available for sale.
Despite all of these distinct advantages, many businesses still prefer offline stores over buying from online portals. However, the process of purchasing products from online portals is rather simple and quick. Buyers just need to keep a few things in mind while making a purchase online.
Reading the terms of sale of a particular product is important and it should include the product quality assurance, provisions regarding the return and refund process. Some products might have hidden costs, so the buyer should check again before placing the final order.
When it comes to the payment, transaction through credit or debit cards is entirely safe. Many online B2B portals have tie-ups with banks so the buyer can get extra discounts by paying via cards. However, online portals also offer the cash-ondelivery option.
Be it online or offline, a business can’t flourish without a USP. With the mushrooming of e-commerce sites and marketplace, an online portal needs to offer unique services to stand apart from the crowd. Providing exceptional customer experience in a timely, professional manner should be the first priority for an online portal.
Rather than sticking to a single channel, multiple channels should be used to take care of the needs of the customers. Emails, social media platforms, integrated live chat option, help desk, and phone support should be utilized to exceed the expectations of customers. Also, it’s crucial to respond to their queries as the tag of being unresponsive can cost the reputation of a business. Communicating through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram also helps to connect better with the existing and potential customer base.
Integrated live chat is another effective way to communicate with the buyers due to its immediacy. Surveys have shown that most buyers prefer live chat as compared to any other modes as they can get answers to their queries quickly. With artificial intelligence and chatbots becoming more mainstream, online portals should take the advantage of live chat. Needless to say, having a dedicated customer support team is necessary. The team of people should be professional enough to handle the queries of the buyers with patience.
While the Indian market was once mainly limited to electronics, gadgets and tech accessories, nowadays more categories like fashion, apparel, beauty products, groceries are proving to be profitable. Lately, there have been a few apparent changes in the customer behaviour as well. Instead of opting for cash on delivery option, more Indians are now relying on digital and cashless payment. In 2017, wallet usage was the preferred mode of payment for many while shopping online. With flexible payment options and easier refund process, people have finally started using their credit cards and debit cards to purchase.
The trends are constantly changing due to the dynamic nature of the B2B e-commerce industry. Factors like smartphone penetration heightened customer interest, and better services explain why more businesses are choosing online B2B portals over offline stores to make purchases.
Technological advancements, improvement in the last-mile delivery infrastructure is undoubtedly enhancing the online buying experience better for the customers. Given the parameters, it will be only a matter of time when online portals will take over the market and edge past brick-and-mortar stores.
The writer is Founder and Director, Dial4trade.com, India’s leading online B2B marketplace and business directory for small & medium size businesses and companies.