Ben­e­fits of Buy­ing from a B2B Mar­ket­place

Why bet­ter prices and cheap deals are avail­able on B2B mar­ket­places.

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Online Retail - By Arun Pratap Singh

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.

Firstly, when a busi­ness is pur­chas­ing products from an on­line por­tal, its pri­vacy pol­icy should be to ex­am­ine and min­i­mize the ex­po­sure of any con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion. Most buy­ers pay no attention to the pri­vacy pol­icy but it’s cru­cial. The data that has been shared is en­crypted and trans­mit­ted through a se­cure link.

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.

When a busi­ness is pur­chas­ing products from an on­line por­tal, its pri­vacy pol­icy should be to ex­am­ine and min­i­mize the ex­po­sure of any con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion. Most buy­ers pay no attention to the pri­vacy pol­icy but it’s cru­cial.

The writer is Founder and Di­rec­tor, Dial4­, In­dia’s lead­ing on­line B2B mar­ket­place and busi­ness di­rec­tory for small & medium size busi­nesses and com­pa­nies.

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