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B2B eCommerce Consulting

What is B2B eCommerce?

B2B is a business transaction model where trading or commerce takes place between two business entities. If such buying and selling take place using the internet, it qualifies to be called B2B eCommerce. For example, a manufacturer selling goods to a distributor (both business entities) qualifies as B2B. When these two business entities conduct the buying and selling over the internet, it qualifies as B2B eCommerce. When we say buying and selling, it means the entire transaction from ordering to delivery and payment.

Edge of eCommerce

According to a report, the global B2B eCommerce market stood at USD 12.2 trillion in 2019. Amazon Business and Alibaba are two prominent B2B eCommerce examples.

B2B businesses can significantly increase their reach to cater to new market locations and penetrate deeper into the supply chain or even enter new industries and thus be able to create more business and revenue. In the case of remote trading, transactional transparency between two trading businesses also becomes necessary and eCommerce takes care of that. Businesses will be able to better coordinate with their suppliers with online transactions. Data generated in the course of business could be used in data analytics for informed decision-making and strategy building.

Challenges in B2B eCommerce

Taking B2B the eCommerce route immediately elevates businesses to the world of online standards and competitiveness. They need to build the right strategies and roadmap. Identifying and embracing the right eCommerce tools and technologies becomes an imminent challenge on the judgement day. Once the platform is set, the next stage is branding and positioning in the world of B2B eCommerce. Coming up with a balanced digital marketing strategy could entail months of trial and error experiments. The right B2B eCommerce consulting can help businesses save on time and implement expert B2B eCommerce solutions.

Planning for B2B eCommerce


Market Analysis


A market analysis report presents the attractiveness and conduciveness of a market for business with a holistic approach. If a market does not show promise, it just does not; no one can make it good if it is not good for any particular business. And if it does; a market analysis report can tell us how it is so. A good market analysis should at least cover the following:

  • Industry performance and trends
  • Market size and the demand estimates
  • Market trends
  • Availability of suppliers and distributors
  • Logistical ease
  • Demographics and customer profiling
  • Competitors and intensity of competition, the threat of new entrants
  • Substitute products, emerging products
  • Market-entry and exit barriers
  • Economic, legal and regulatory, political, social, technological, ecological factors
  • Bargaining edge


Business Model & Business Plan


A business model defines how a company is going to generate revenue. Here it is not about the numbers but the overall idea of how a company is intending to generate revenue. A business plan is the business model in action. In other words, how the intended offering will be created and delivered to the market and customers.

This will include considering regulatory permissions and compliances for doing business, laying out the logistical, supply chain and distribution network plan from source to destination and vice-versa, human resource management, marketing strategy, office and administration, financial planning (capital requirements, profitability, break-even, etc.), technology and technology partners, etc.

        Organogram

Organogram is nothing but an organization chart depicting the organizational structure. It reflects the hierarchy of positions and form(s) of departmentation in a business enterprise. It is meant to cognize the flow of authority and command in an organization across functions and departments or business units.

For a B2B eCommerce business, having an organization structure is as important as it is for any other type of business for the same reasons. Having an organization structure also helps in other internal activities like reporting, approvals, escalations, hiring, accountability, communication, etc.

 

 

         SOPs

It is only when the duties and responsibilities are crystal clear to all of your employees in all the departments will they be able to carry out what they are needed to do. Now, how to achieve such clarity for all? The answer is SOP. It is the operational roadmap.

SOP defines the step-by-step approach to carry out a particular task or operation. SOPs need to be planned and documented. It removes subjectivity and doubt. It also makes supervision, monitoring and improvisations easier. There should be SOPs for every department like finance, HR, store operations, merchandising, purchase, inventory, etc.

After you have drafted the SOPs for all the eCommerce business operations, the next crucial step is its integration with the business IT systems in place. This allows the digitization of business processes facilitating all the processes and process owners to carry out their respective SOPs or the duties and responsibilities.

      

        Customer Experience (CX)

Delivering a superior customer experience has become one of the effective strategies for eCommerce businesses to differentiate their brand in the face of competition.  For B2B eCommerce businesses, the factor of customer experience shifts to a different level in terms of required understanding and insights as compared to B2C.

The stakes are high in B2B. Professionalism and commitment play a make or break role here. Add transactional transparency, personalization, convenience, and competitiveness and we get a more complex equation for delivering superior customer experience in B2B eCommerce.

    

        Warehouse & Logistics Planning

B2B warehouse and logistics planning is different from its B2C counterpart. The former entails bulk order quantities (EOQ-oriented), high AOV (average order value), advanced quality checks, paperwork and formalities, etc. which increases the duration of completing a transaction or fulfilling an order.

This means higher carrying costs for businesses and advanced warehousing solutions. It directly affects profitability.

Storage, handling, and logistical requirements involved come in varying levels of sophistication depending on the nature of the product. If outsourced, these need to be strongly monitored and assigned to credible partners.

 

 

        Robust IT infrastructure

The moment you take your B2B business online, you can no longer remain averse to relevant and updated IT systems and technologies that could facilitate your business to rise to the industry standards.

Multiple business processes and operations will have to run in a synchronized manner. A strong IT infrastructure to support all the business processes becomes necessary. It will also lend you the element of transactional transparency which is one of the core essences of eCommerce business.

The leverage provided by business software applications can significantly trim operational costs, especially in the long-run and also leading to automation, more accuracy of the information, and speedy decision-making.

 

        Process Automation


Process automation is an advanced extension of what IT systems can do for your B2B eCommerce business. It speeds up your internal processes and operations and the benefits of which could be extended to your clients. Such automation could be in the form of use of Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of things (IoT), ERPs, chatbots, packaging machines, handling equipment, scanners, etc.

Automation in business processes helps in eliminating human errors and can also make the processes more effective and efficient. With automation technologies, valuable man-hours can be saved and be used in other critical areas of business.

 

        Digital Marketing strategy


Is digital marketing relevant for B2B eCommerce? Will your target audience take it seriously? The answer is that via digital marketing you are only reaching out to your target audience. Within the confines of digital marketing, the competition is for visibility, outreach, engagement and conversion on search engines, social media platforms, radio, television, websites, smartphone applications, etc.

How effective you are at understanding your clients’ requirements will determine the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy whether it is via search engines or social media or any other channel.

However, the presence of digital marketing does not mean the absence of conventional marketing. You should still reach out to your prospective customers via old-school mediums like advertising in the relevant newspapers, hoardings, electronic billboards, etc. At the end of the day, both physical and digital advertising are touchpoints and an omnichannel approach needs to be maintained.

 

        Critical Pathway


A lot of tasks and activities go into taking your B2B business online. Without a planned roadmap or a systematic approach, managing this transformation can go haywire.

A solution to this is the Critical Path Method (CPM). The essence of CPM is to identify that sequence of tasks following which a project could be completed in its maximum required time. This is also called the critical path. Three important underlying considerations in CPM are that tasks can be interdependent, each task involves different time for completion, and tasks can also be executed simultaneously.

It helps businesses plan and manages complex and time-bound projects, processes, and operations. It also helps managers focus on the critical path and keep a tab on the overall operational progress.

 

        Launch Strategy


This is where the reverse countdown is set for the take-off and the time comes to take your B2B eCommerce platform online.  It is much more than ribbon-cutting. The launch program needs a bit of planning and marketing efforts.

The first impression should be lasting and to make sure it happens, there should be a trial run of the website (preceded by beta testing), the onset of digital marketing campaigns, presentations and webinars scheduled, etc.

 

 

Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

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We work only for Visionaries.

PROCESS AUTOMATION

The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

IT INTEGRATION

Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

 

At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

UI & UX DESIGNING

This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

BRANDING

Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

CRITICAL PATHWAY

Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

MARKET RESEARCH

Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.