In the realms of digital transformation, geographic boundaries are no longer a hindrance to demand within eCommerce and more and more retailers are capitalising on the opportunities within cross-border. However the functionality a D2C retailer needs to overcome the barriers to transacting and shipping are not readily available in most platforms. This leads to many brands taking on cumbersome manual processes which hurt efficiency, customer service levels, and ultimately hamper the ability to grow revenue profitably.
From a broader perspective, there's a dynamic shift occurring in the B2B sector. An astounding 53% of B2B businesses have switched suppliers due to a subpar buying experience. In this consumer-oriented era, 90% of buyers expect a DTC-like experience on a B2B site. As a result, 75% of B2B companies are anticipating a 80% surge in online sales from B2B buyers. This makes it clear that retailers need to cater to this change in consumer behaviour to remain competitive and seize growth opportunities.
When Retailers Venture into B2B
Success in direct-to-consumer (D2C) retail often sparks interest in the wholesale world, especially when brands start receiving enquiries about their products. Brands migrating to a new platform and those with existing B2B experience also see value in expanding their operations. Likewise, established B2B retailers looking for scalability and added functionality are embracing the opportunities of cross-border B2B.
Going Global with B2B
Retailers experiencing success in D2C often attract international attention, which opens up new revenue streams to support their D2C operations. However, the question that arises is - what do these B2B customers want?
Most desire the ability for the vendor to order on their behalf, custom pricing, and a user-friendly platform that allows quick order creation and replication. B2B retailers, on the other hand, seek to offer varying payment terms based on the customer group to build trust, differing credit terms, dynamic discounting for their sales team and to process orders in the same automated manner as their DTC operations.
The Challenges of Cross-Border B2B
Cross-border B2B comes with its unique set of challenges.
- Multi-currency Transactions: Global commerce naturally entails dealing with a variety of currencies. This necessitates the management of diverse price lists, each tailored to a specific currency. Such a requirement compels businesses to adopt dynamic pricing strategies and robust systems to handle complex currency exchanges.
- Address Management: Cross-border operations also bring the intricate task of managing billing and shipping addresses that span across different countries. This responsibility requires a high level of accuracy and meticulousness in data management to ensure seamless logistics and customer satisfaction.
- Invoicing and Exchange Rates: With varying currencies come fluctuating exchange rates, making the process of invoicing more complex. Businesses must be equipped to deal with these variations, as well as the potential need for invoicing in specific currencies as per customers' requirements.
- Trade Terms and Logistics: Different terms of trade may need to be established for international customers. This could range from enabling customers to collect goods rather than providing direct shipping to adjusting shipping methods and carriers differently from the DTC model. These requirements necessitate a flexible, customisable logistics strategy.
- Geographic Regulations: The entry into different regions comes with a unique set of rules and regulations, including specific Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) and region-specific shipping rates. Additionally, the intricacies of landed costs due to varying tax and duty regimes further complicate operations, requiring businesses to develop a deep understanding of regional customs and regulations.
- Product Configurations: Engaging in international trade also often means catering to region-specific product preferences and regulations, including being aware of product labelling requirements of the destination country. This could involve larger pack sizes, higher minimum order quantities, and in certain cases, pallet-only runs. These requirements mandate unique product and supply chain configurations, underscoring the need for a flexible operational model.
The Road Ahead for B2B Retailers
In the rapidly globalising marketplace, B2B retailers are faced with a compelling question: how can they effectively navigate the challenges of expansion while ensuring their processes remain efficient and productive?
- Adopt a Standstill Approach: One course of action is to maintain the status quo, doing nothing beyond current efforts. This path may seem less daunting, especially for smaller businesses apprehensive about investing heavily in new systems. However, persisting with inefficient manual processes while attempting to scale operations can lead to a significant increase in operational complexities. The ever-evolving market dynamics require agile responses, and clinging to outmoded methods could potentially impede growth and undermine competitive advantage.
- Develop a new eCommerce website: Another option is to build a new site on a potentially different platform. This is a robust solution that allows B2B retailers to tailor their digital presence to the unique needs of their operations. Creating a dedicated team to manage this new platform enables businesses to maintain control over their processes, and potentially deliver a more customised B2B experience. However, this approach necessitates a substantial investment of time, capital, and resources. The complexity involved in platform migration, staff training, and system integration should also be factored in when considering this route.
- Implement a B2B platform: The final option is to leverage a B2B platform such as SparkLayer. This approach offers a strategic blend of efficiency and functionality. Instead of building a new platform from scratch, SparkLayer allows businesses to seamlessly incorporate necessary B2B functionalities into their existing Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) site. By simplifying the process of cross-border B2B operations, SparkLayer effectively bridges the gap between B2B retailers and their global customers. This route enables businesses to enjoy the benefits of an expanded operational scope without the substantial investment and complexity associated with developing a new platform.
In the face of these options, B2B retailers must assess their unique circumstances, resources, and growth ambitions to determine the most suitable path forward. At SparkLayer, we believe in embracing the third option to expedite growth in cross-border B2B eCommerce. As your partner in the B2B journey, we aim to make this process as smooth as possible, helping your business tap into new markets and opportunities with ease.
As we continue to expand our customer base to 1,000 global customers, we take feedback from them to refine and improve our current solutions, and aggressively grow the product capabilities. We invite you to join us in revolutionising the B2B eCommerce landscape and welcome you to get in touch to learn more!