Tag: b2b commerce

Infographic – Understanding the 3 Stages of the Customer Journey Before Going D2C

[Infographic] 3 Stages of the Customer Journey & D2C

The direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model cuts out the middleman (e.g. wholesalers and retailers). This allows brands to handle the end-to-end transactions directly with consumers, that is from manufacturing and marketing all the way to fulfillment. Since D2C companies primarily operate online via e-commerce and digital advertising, a sound content strategy is a must to succeed. But what types of content should be created and when should they be distributed?

[Infographic] 3 Stages of the Customer Journey Before Going D2C

The adage says that preparation is half the battle. Learning what it entails to go D2C, content-wise, allows brands to prepare for the journey ahead. Framing content based on the stages of the customer journey enables brands to orchestrate consumer experiences, measure them afterward, and then optimize as needed.


(1) https://content-na2.emarketer.com/more-product-searches-start-on-amazon
(2) https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/retail-statistics/
(3) https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/retail-statistics/

Top 5 Global B2B Marketplaces

Top B2B E-Commerce Platforms

The global B2B e-commerce industry was worth US$12.2 trillion in 2019 and according to Statista, that was six times more than the worth of B2C e-commerce1. These numbers suggest that the future of e-commerce, at least the near future, is B2B. But are you familiar with the top five B2B marketplaces? As it stands Amazon Business and Alibaba.com lead the pack, but let’s take a deeper look at the top 5 B2B marketplaces.

Amazon Business

Their tagline says it all, “Everything you love about Amazon. For your business2.” That means businesses simply register and can start using the platform to purchase business supplies. Employers are also allowed to add multiple users to buy on their behalf. “Workflow Approval” allows buyers to create carts to send back for approval and build a list of preferred suppliers and products.  Amazon Business also provides “Spend Visibility” where the account admin has an overview of what is being spent on what.

Key features:

/         Price savings. Offers exclusive price discounts, price breaks or quantity discounts and provides access to millions of products.

/         Shipping. Has four fulfilment options: Business Prime (same day, one-day, two-day shipping depending on eligibility), Amazon Fulfilment (user’s choice), free shipping (on orders of $25 or more of eligible items) and pallet shipping (dock or doorstep delivery).

/         Payment. Offers purchasing via card or line of credit, plus tax exemption for convenience and savings.

/         Sponsored ads. Helps shoppers find brands at every stage of their journey, such as the first page of search results or product detail pages3.

/          Enhanced product content. Helps businesses improve their listings by providing key product information such as CAD files, images and videos, application and user guides, manuals, etc.

Key benefits:

Amazon Business claims that “third-party sellers make up +50% of our $10 billion annualized sales run rate.” Additionally, because it’s a one-stop destination for both on the spot and strategic purchases, it boasts that it helps businesses control their spending4.


What was originally a yellow page directory, Alibaba.com is now an end-to-end trading platform “to make it easy to do business everywhere5.” Its focus may be on Chinese manufacturers, but it serves millions of buyers and suppliers worldwide. Often referred to as the “Amazon of China,” Alibaba acts as a middleman between two parties. Businesses can list their products for free on Alibaba.com or pay for greater exposure on the site much like how Google does it for brands.

Key features6:

/         Product verification. Inspects products for quality and when a product is successful, it gains a “Verified Main Product” designation.

/         Trade assurance. Refunds businesses enough to cover the initial deposit in the event of delayed shipping or if a wrong item is sent.

/         Payment. Offers security and flexibility via Alipay (similar to PayPal), bank transfers, letter of credit, Western Union and Escrow.

/         Customs data. Provides U.S. retailers access to public trading records of the foreign suppliers they’re dealing with on Alibaba.

Key benefits:

Aside from access to countless numbers of suppliers, businesses can buy at extremely low prices and sell at premium retail prices. Equally important is that, unlike Amazon, Alibaba doesn’t compete with its customers and doesn’t require them to invest in warehousing and logistics as their business model is software driven. Their philosophy is to facilitate business between two entities.

Rakuten Marketplace

Dubbed as the “Amazon of Japan,” Rakuten Marketplace was primarily a Japanese marketplace until it acquired Buy.com and started to compete with Amazon and eBay. To strengthen their game in the US, Rakuten acquired Ebates.com allowing customers to earn Super Points or 1% of the product’s price which they can use on the next purchase. Sellers must be approved by Rakuten to sell.7

Key features8:

/         Personalized storefront. Allows brands to mimic their website, enabling them to showcase and control their identity and messaging.

/         Custom product pages. Enables brands to provide rich product content such as detailed product information, images and demo videos.

/         Customer support. Provides sellers with training and guidance, as well as a dedicated e-commerce consultant (ECC).

/         Email marketing. Offers R-mail, a newsletter-like tool, allowing sellers to send existing customers updates and offerings.

Key benefits:

Much like Alibaba, Rakuten doesn’t compete with its customers. On Rakuten, the competition is strictly between merchants. Big on providing great experiences, it encourages merchants to compete on hospitality and customer service, not just on price.


With the tagline “To make doing business easy,” it sounds very similar to Alibaba. It’s India’s largest B2B marketplace boasting over 98 million buyers, 5.9 million suppliers and 66 million products & services9.

Key features:

/         Two-way discovery. Facilitates buyer-supplier location on its marketplace via email or SMS query or through IndiaMART.

/         Payment protection program. Offers reliable and secure transactions through their free service IndiaMART Payment Protection10.

Key benefits:

IndiaMART believes that its unique selling points against other marketplaces are “reach, brand recognition, breadth and quality of suppliers and product listings, pricing and customer service.11

Global Sources

According to their LinkedIn page, “Global Sources is a leading B2B media company and a primary facilitator of trade between Asia and the world using English-language media such as trade shows (GlobalSources.com/exhibitions), online marketplaces (GlobalSources.com), magazines, and apps 12.” It has the same goal as Alibaba, which is to facilitate global trade. However, Global Sources’ close ties with Hong Kong trade fairs ensures it doesn’t encounter issues with counterfeit products.

Key features13:

/         Verified supplier system. Helps suppliers build a reliable image by running their registration details through independent third parties.

/         Supplier capability assessment. Enables buyers to audit suppliers based on production facilities, capabilities and product quality.

/         UI/UX. Facilitates easy navigation with a user-friendly interface, provides convenience with a flexible search engine. Provides insight via a built-in tool to compare suppliers and their products14.

Key benefits:

Global Sources main highlight is its reliability guarantee. It may only have 15,000 suppliers compared to Alibaba’s one million, but all of those underwent a strict selection process.

In summary, B2B marketplaces are on the rise. They are good testing grounds for businesses who are just starting with e-commerce or are looking for something to support their web shop. It’s worth noting that each of these top B2B marketplaces has their own unique selling points that may work for some but not for others.

How AI is Changing B2B Commerce

how ai is changing b2b commerce

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to be on the rise, and it has brought a lot of positive opportunities for businesses. Buyers have started to get better experiences as AI has enabled businesses to approach consumers more creatively. In many cases, by providing personalization or customized messaging. B2B vendors have also been transforming the way they do business. Many have undertaken digital transformation journeys, and they now look towards AI to gain greater benefits. But how is AI driving change in the B2B space?

AI accelerates growth and revenue

A recent survey by Gartner showed that by 2020, 30% of B2B companies will employ AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes. These companies have implemented an AI strategy to accelerate their growth and revenues by:

/         Using relevant data for insights. AI helps B2B vendors identify and segment buyers based on their needs, location and historical preferences. They can create tailored marketing approaches to target clients with the use of valuable insights about prospects throughout the buying cycle. This approach helps deliver the right products and services to clients, ultimately increasing conversion rates and revenue.

/         Generating quality leads. A study by Harvard Business found that companies that use AI for sales were able to increase their leads by 50%. By leveraging AI, businesses can gain insights from a wide base, increasing their capacity to identify the best B2B buyers. This helps increase the number of leads generated by the sales team while also ensuring its quality.

/         Streamlining internal tasks. A report says that 80% of a sales teams’ time is spent on cold-calling and lead nurturing activities. That leaves them with just enough time and energy to actually work on closing leads. Adopting AI can significantly reduce the time spent by employees on menial tasks by 40%, according to McKinsey. Labor-intensive tasks such as data management can be minimized by embedding AI into different data management and automation solutions. AI can free up employees, thus encouraging collaboration and improving internal work processes.

/         Delivering accurate product content. Buyers are extremely selective when it comes to purchasing products from a website or a store. They require accurate and consistent product content whether they are at a physical store or visiting an e-commerce site. And they want access to rich and up to date product content all the time. AI makes it possible for B2B vendors to deliver the most up to date and accurate content by efficiently delivering the right content to the right channels.

AI enhances buyer experiences

By adopting AI, B2B vendors can also:

/         Predict buyer behavior. Without AI, it is almost impossible to forecast buyer behavior and use it to benefit the business. By relying on buyer data and historical actions, B2B vendors can tailor product offerings that fit the needs of its buyers anytime. AI further helps by creating more relevant messaging and more accurate published product content on every channel.

/         Simplify data analysis. Analyzing product data to gather insight can be error-prone and difficult. Incorrect or inconsistent product data causes confusion within and outside the organization. AI helps solve complex problems over short periods of time, thus enhancing data analyses as well as helping to store and retrieve product information efficiently.

/         Measure product performances. Analyzing and measuring past product performance from a campaign or promotion is necessary for B2B vendors. AI helps businesses gauge how products perform in the market for a period of time and measures it against historical benchmarks to guide the decision-making processes and create recommendations.

/         Improve the buying process. Searching an entire catalog for a single product is taxing and time consuming for B2B buyers, especially if the need is urgent. AI can be used to provide buyers with efficient and easy ways to look for the products they need at any given time. Faceted search, text-to-speech and image recognition are some of the tools that can be utilized to improve on the search functionality of a system. Removing obstacles to the buying process means better experience for the buyers and faster conversion for the business.

B2B businesses that embrace AI has started to become the norm, and it is no longer just for big businesses either. Small and medium-sized companies can take advantage of its benefits thanks to the widespread use of the cloud.

Learn about some more B2B trends by checking out 5 takeaways from the B2B Marketing Expo – California.

Infographic – How B2B Commerce has Changed in the Last 20 Years

Once upon a time, B2B used to rely on trade catalogs and sales enablement materials that were manually reproduced and distributed to target industries. Then the internet happened, and it disrupted the traditional methods of commerce and how people and companies buy and sell goods and services.

While e-commerce was believed to have started in the 1990s, it wasn’t until Google launched AdWords in the year 2000 that e-commerce began to rise. SEO became standard practice, and it continues to be a scalable strategy for every e-commerce business. These changes prompted industries to jump in the wagon of digital transformation.

But what do these changes mean for B2B buyers and vendors?

The buyer landscape has changed with the proliferation of different technologies. It brought with it a new generation of buyers, and vendors must adapt. These Millennial and Gen Z buyers are hyper-connected, and their preferences and expectations are noticeably different. They want more personalized experiences and for their online buying process to be:

/         Smooth – where the process is easy and fast

/         Error-free – where there’s little possibility for them to receive the wrong product

/         Accessible – where they can complete the buying process, from research to completing the order, anywhere

/         Personalized – where they are presented with products and options tailored to their needs

This means that B2B vendors face buyers that expect them to be engaged, personal and available. Thus, they must comply to the demands of these new buyers, or else risk losing business partners and potential sales.