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B2B e-commerce fulfilment

B2B e-commerce fulfillment: Key things to know

You may be new to B2B e-commerce, but your company may already operate a B2C e-commerce model. Or you may already operate in the traditional B2B space, but are planning to add new channel. Either way, we have some tips for you on B2B order fulfillment.

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What is B2B ecommerce?

B2B e-commerce shipping of fabrics

Let’s first dispel any confusion by defining what we mean by B2B and B2C e-commerce.

B2B e-commerce/business-to-business e-commerce: when transactions take place on an online portal between one business and another business.

B2C e-commerce/business-to-customer e-commerce: when transactions take place on an online portal between a business and an end consumer. 

B2B and B2C e-commerce: examples

Let’s make things clearer with some simple examples:

B2B e-commerce: an electronics brand allows businesses to buy their equipment via a dedicated ‘B2B webshop’

B2C e-commerce: an electronics brand sells single televisions online directly to consumers

When e-commerce first took off, it was largely in the B2C arena, however B2B is rapidly catching up, as companies realize that selling online makes a transaction more efficient for sellers and buyers. 

For people navigating the complexities of entering or growing in B2B e-commerce, there is some good news: if you’re already familiar with making personal purchases online (and we assume you are!), you’re already very well placed to put yourself in the shoes of a corporate buyer. There is significant crossover between the B2C and B2B mindsets: fundamentally all buyers are looking for a great purchasing experience. Simply put: today’s buyers expect the same convenience when buying for work as they are used to from their personal online shopping experiences.

Employee of an sme packs goods for dispatch

B2B logistics: an opportunity to wow customers

Once you have laid the foundation for your B2B e-commerce venture – your website, purchasing, marketing, putting a CRM in place – there will be the need to optimize your supply chain across all areas, e.g. warehousing, pick and pack models, inventory management, and last-mile delivery.

B2B fulfillment: reaching a happy customer with your product

To deliver on your customer promise, you need to consider the specific nature of B2B fulfillment. In many ways it requires a different approach to B2C fulfillment:

  1. Order and item volume: Compared with B2C e-commerce, B2B often means fewer orders but for larger quantities of items. Does your fulfillment provider offer services to suit both?
  2. Picking and packing methods: B2B orders often involve carton picks, and shipping in larger cartons and pallets. What does your fulfillment provider offer?
  3. Shipping methods: Does your logistics provider work with the right sort of carriers for your B2B orders? These can differ from those you need for B2C orders.
  4. Delivery speed: B2C orders often have quick turnarounds, whereas B2B orders are more likely to be large orders, planned and agreed for delivery perhaps on a specific day. Does your provider partner with carriers who are reliable?
  5. Integration with ERP systems: You might run your B2B webshop in connection with an ERP system. If so, does your logistics provider make it easy to connect with good API and EDI interfaces?
  6. Returns: What flow have you designed for B2B returns and can your fulfillment provider support you on these?

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B2B and B2C e-commerce companies: critical success factors

Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C e-commerce space, there are also some common principles on which your success will depend:

1. Quality

Getting the right product to the right place at the right time. It’s simple and as difficult as that.

2. Visibility

The ability to analyze your stock levels at all locations, and track your sales against this. You want to avoid stock-outs. 

3. Flexibility

Whether it’s business as usual, you’re running a promotion, or you’ve hit B2C peak season, being able to scale output up and down will remain key.

How we make B2B delivery easy

With the DHL Fulfillment Network we support both B2C and B2B e-commerce businesses. Our customers benefit from our flexible, scalable service, allowing them to respond to upswings and downswings in order patterns. We integrate seamlessly with all major webshops and ERPs.

We have fulfillment centers located globally, so stock can be stored in multiple locations and closer to your customers, leading to cost efficiencies and swifter delivery times.

Thanks to our advanced inventory insights tool, customers can get in-depth insights into their stock. This allows companies to understand sales trends per market, identify SKUs in risk of stock-outs and see where they can save money by reducing or shifting stock. Managing inventory for B2B and B2C orders in combined locations reduces not only complexity and inventory costs, it allows our customers to manage orders and stock in one system.

B2B e-commerce comes with particular logistical challenges to solve, but it presents a great opportunity for growth. You can overcome these challenges with our in-country experts. With our skills and global fulfillment network, we can solve ‘the logistics of it’ so you can focus on growing your business across all channels.

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Are you interested in scalable fulfillment?

Then let’s get to business.

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