Everyone knows that selling is an essential part of any business. Naturally, B2B (business to business) sales are very different to B2C sales, in which a business sells directly to the customer. Wholesale (B2B) businesses who are under pressure to bring in new customers must tailor their approach to fit the B2B market. It can be difficult to stand out in such a saturated e-commerce market, but staying true to your value proposition and your USP should help to differentiate your business.
What is wholesale?
Wholesale involves selling your product in bulk to a ‘middle man’, who then sells to other retailers (the consumer). Wholesalers pay a discounted price in lieu of the fact they are buying a large quantity from you. Wholesalers shift a large quantity of your products in one go, handing over the responsibility to the wholesale buyer to prepare their margins, and source buyers who are prepared to pay higher prices.
B2B sales generally come with less expenses compared to traditional B2C sales. You might secure fewer transactions, but these transactions can be more consistent and worth more money, plus you’ll save loads of time if you don’t have to interact with the public for each individual purchase. B2C is all about direct, personal interactions and upholding a reputation, so you’ll need to nail your role as a marketer, salesman, as well as fulfilling customer needs. If you know you struggle with building face-to-face relationships, B2B sales can be a great way to begin your retail experience and get to grips with a revenue stream that isn’t slowing down.
Some useful tactics to increase your B2B customer base
Do your research
Cold calling and emailing is fairly common practice in B2B industries because it’s a really useful way to collect client information. However, in the B2B space, ‘sales calls’ have developed a bit of a bad reputation. Begin by compiling a list of customer acquisition ideas to realistically understand how you’ll bring in new business. Next, you’ll want to reach out and contact them, but make sure you’re assessing how likely you are to convert them into a sale, and their potential profitability. You should be aware of the problems they’re facing (particularly if they’re a potential buyer within your industry). Because of the digital age, you’ll be able to access a lot more information than before about the profitability of a potential lead, so make sure to do your research and prioritise at this stage.
Ruthless, target-chasing sales representatives spend their days mass calling endless lists of companies, but they’re falling short. Sales representatives who struggle to see the value in research before approaching new businesses can be really off-putting for a wholesale buyer. Instead of cold calling, it’s much more attractive to suggest setting up a meeting. You’ll want to gauge an understanding of your customer’s problems in order to offer them your expertise and fulfil their needs.
Drive more traffic to your website
Your website is one of the best places to generate new customers, wholesale or not. Most businesses will allocate some of their budget to pay for Facebook advertising and Google AdWords to maximise SEO. You’ll need to keep an eye on your ROI, but promoting specific products to the right audience can really boost the traffic your website is attracting. Ads need to catch a potential customer’s attention, so make sure your ads include some quality, eye-catching content. Your call to action should be clear and inviting, so that potential customers feel inclined to visit your site. If budget is a problem, submitting some excellent content on social media platforms such as LinkedIn could transform your efforts tenfold. Consider your audience’s needs, what they want to see and what problems they’re facing on a day to day basis - if you’ve got something that will ease a problem they’re facing, your business will be much more appealing.
Nurture customers through the transaction process
B2B entrepreneurs know the importance of pre-purchase customer experience. Wholesalers don’t want to see any more clunky and manual ecommerce websites that involve downloading and uploading forms to place orders. The fact you’re selling your product in bulk shouldn’t be reflected in your website function. If you’re already selling directly to customers, you’ll be happy to know that a lot of ecommerce marketing tricks can be applied when you’re selling B2B. When a visitor browses product pages, you’ll want to upsell and cross sell by providing other popular products in a bottom or side banner. Suggest more expensive but better quality items, as well as other alternatives and bundle packages.
Set up a dedicated landing page
If you’re lucky enough to be attracting both B2B and B2C revenue streams, that’s great news. Despite the fact that the two business activities vary, you needn’t create a seperate website for wholesale opportunities. Your online store should be completely open to any B2C customer. For your B2B customers, you’ll want to design a dedicated B2B landing page within your website where wholesalers can create an account and gain access to bulk pricing and wholesale offerings. Many websites also offer integrated features to wholesalers on their landing page, such as online chats and quoting tools. Your B2C and B2B both contribute to driving website traffic, so aim to maintain both in the one place, not divide them.
Don’t let your customers abandon carts!
Abandoned carts. They’re painful. Especially when you’ve nurtured your customer through the funnel and all of a sudden, they’re gone. According to Moosend, an average of 69% of online carts are abandoned by users. There are obviously a lot of reasons for customers exiting your site at the last minute and not going through with their transaction…you just don’t want your website to have anything to do with that. Below are a few ways to avoid cart abandonment.
1. Visitors should be able to place and track orders easily. Providing the option for wholesalers to “check out as a guest” will save them from entering all their details and making an account. Remember, wholesalers are shopping for business, not pleasure, so they want the process to be as direct as possible.
2. A flow of progress demonstrating each stage of the transaction can really help customers through each step e.g. adding payment details, billing addresses, shipping options etc.
3. You’ll definitely want a variety of payment options like bank transfer, credit cards and extended credit plans where permitted. Perhaps your consumers will be international, so make sure you’re welcoming all payment providers.
4. Because wholesale is such a numbers game, buyers will want to adjust their product quantities easily at the checkout stage. Allow your customers to place and manage their orders easily and in one place. You don’t want them to exit the checkout interface.
Offer support and information
Of course you’ll need your FAQ page to be thorough, so that customers can answer questions themselves (improving UX). To supplement this, you’ll want a multi channel customer service strategy. Ideally, you’ll offer support to wholesalers through live chat, phone, email, and social media, adhering to each individual customer and closing more deals. The more a customer enjoys their pre purchase experience on your platform, the more likely they are to commit to purchase, recommend you to a friend and generate more loyal customers.
Use scarcity and special offers for first time buyers
Handing over a special discount to first time customers can be the finishing touch to convert new wholesale customers. Incentivising customers with reductions and offers relating to shipping fees, special discounts or other promotions is always a useful method when trying to convince customers to commit to purchase. Introduce product scarcity by communicating if a product is low in stock or only on offer for a limited time. Buyers feel a sense of urgency and respond more quickly if they deem the promotion as limited, within a time frame.
Are you a wholesale business looking for some expert advice?
Elkfox are Shopify experts. Do you need help optimising your wholesale e-commerce store? We can help. If you’d like more information, get in touch with us!