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Expert Advice
For Success in Ecommerce
Our team of Ecommerce experts outline effective strategies for increasing and optimising your sales!
Professionals, artisans, wholesalers, SMBs, but also local authorities and large enterprises, are increasingly reliant on the internet for their business purchases. 48% of B2B customers will place 50% or more of their orders online within three years and 83% of B2B sellers are either in the process of upgrading/implementing their ecommerce suite or planning to do so within six months ("Building The Omni-Channel B2B Platform Of The Future" a study by Forrester Consulting for Accenture and Hybris Software)

Taking a look at the Actinic client base, 49% of our etailers already sell to professionals and 9% sell exclusively to businesses!

The B2B train is leaving the station and it’s time to jump aboard or stand on the platform, waving it off, wondering what you missed!

This edition of Actinic's Expert Advice will focus on selling to professionals and businesses, highlighting best practices to gain your share in the B2B Ecommerce market.
Keep in mind:
1. B2B Ecommerce has one of the largest growth potentials for e-merchants in the coming years.
2. With B2B you can increase margins with customers who’ll make greater average orders.
3. Complete your sales channels with a shop that can take orders 24/7.
4. Understand that B2B customers aren’t so different: they’re looking for the same UX as your B2C customers.
5. Adapt to your B2B buyers expectations: bulk orders, VAT free prices, specific catalogues, ordering options, etc.
6. Customer service care: make it quick and easy for buyers to contact you if needed.
7. For demanding customers you need cutting edge technology: go for SaaS.
8. Link your e-shop with Sage for real-time sales and stock control.

A B2B global market set to be worth $12 trillion by 2020!

01 4 reasons to sell B2B
As a little amuse-bouche, we invite you to savour these 4 tasty titbits, highlighting that now, is the moment to launch yourself in the B2B market:
1. For many businesses, internet and ecommerce are great for saving time and gaining a wider audience for their products or services. Especially internationally, where, as we saw in this Expert Advice, you can quickly gain a market share and generate more sales.

2. Ecommerce is a logical extension of the way in which businesses buy; a B2B estore is never sick, on holiday or closed, it's taking orders, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week!

3. For a large number of businesses, ecommerce is a way to improve margins through direct sales; not only eliminating the middle-men but also freeing up human resources which can contribute to sales development rather than just order monitoring.

4. It's an incredible opportunity to foster brand loyalty, which is big in B2B; buyers are more willing to make repeat buys when they are satisfied with a service provider or a supplier. Three in four buyers said they would renew their orders with suppliers if they had an easy-to-use website.
02 Two tactics for gaining your share of the B2B market
49% of B2B buyers prefer making work-related purchases on B2C sites (Forrester/Accenture). The B2B market is taking it's cues from B2C when it comes to online buying preferences and expectations.

The estore itself has a real role to play for buyers, they want to feel that they've found the right company to deal with their business orders. Your site needs to reassure buyers you're credible and safe to buy from whilst remaining highly professional, a dedicated business space.

To gain a B2B market share, you must establish your online sales strategy and weigh up these two options:

1. Online sales, to both individuals and professionals, from the same site.
In regards to your site design, if your site is BtoC and B2B, you should create a clear B2B area or professional access (visually, with a tagline/hook or a specific professional login access, etc) that allows access to specific offers for B2B customers.
2. Create a specific domain, especially dedicated to B2B, professional sales.
You can opt for a specific site, committed to professional B2B sales. This option lets you refine your sales strategy, to acquire quality and targeted traffic; specific SEO, design, promotions, search options, etc.
This is the route that, Sport Outdoor Shop, took, developing a strong B2B strategy, whilst also selling in the B2C market. With more than 230,000 euros in monthly sales, it’s definitely a tactic that worked for them!

Regardless of which option you take, selling B2B, involves establishing specific services and features:

    "Perfectly adapted to create sales for both B2C and B2B, the Actinic solution makes it easier to segment your customer base and use different tactics for each target group (create different user profiles, quickly set multi-tariffs, separate marketing campaigns for each segment, etc.)."
    Eric Silici - SportsoutdoorShop

> Make contact with your customers: we’ve seen that brand loyalty is strong in B2B, now is the time to put that extra effort in to secure long-term, repeat custom.
B2B is still integrating its traditional sales model with ecommerce so supporting businesses during this transition will be to your benefit in the long run. Facilitate contact via your site, email and phone. The Actinic MOTO feature comes into its own here, as many buyers still want to confirm via phone, also giving you the opportunity to up-sell;

    "Actinic offers a very effective MOTO feature. The numbers speak for themselves, an average basket with MOTO is 20% higher than on internet orders and our conversion rates are steadily increasing"
    Gaëlle Barré, d’Univers Broderie

"Building The B2B Omni-Channel Platform Of The Future", confirms that B2B buyers expect an easy-to-use website with familiar B2C features such as;
> Enhanced search features 60% expected this feature, so they could quickly and easily find what they need. Thanks to Actinic’s predictive search, which is integrated into our solution, from the first letter typed into the search bar, corresponding items in your catalogue are displayed. A handy feature which has a direct impact on conversion rates! Actinic provides a powerful search engine which complements the advanced faceted search we offer.

> Product ratings and reviews 58% expected this feature, a key trust element. Activate Shopping-Satisfaction to reassure buyers with authentic, verified reviews.

> Direct, instant online payment methods, such as credit cards or other payment systems, rather than purchase orders and invoices. This was the preference of nearly 7 out of 10 B2B buyers (69%). With Actinic Payments you can offer multiple payment methods.

Even though there are many similarities to BtoC ecommerce, B2B still has certain characteristics that might require some changes in your approach.

The key elements you will need to think about and act upon are;

> Creating different customer profiles. (general public, re-sellers, partners, wholesalers, local authorities, etc.) with specific characteristics enabling you to classify your customers and offer them appropriate deals.

> Creating specific catalogues and pricing options. Segment your full catalogue, create dedicated catalogues for each customer segment, (hide products for some users, show more products for other categories of users, etc.).
> Set multi-tariffs. Create different pricing options for the same product, depending on the customer: once identified, the customer sees the appropriate price for them, e.g. with VAT, excluding VAT (possibly with public rate crossed out, to showcase the discount the client is receiving).

> Offer specific packaging options. Exceed customer expectations by offering specific B2B packaging options for those who buy in pack or bulk, not by single unit.

> Increase AOV by offering bulk discounts. By offering special rates for certain amounts spent or by quantity purchased, you create an opportunity to increase average order value. Target your discounts to different B2B customer segments, bulk discount, frequent buyer discounts, negotiate prices directly with the buyer if necessary.

> Adjusting the sales cycle. Businesses regularly make purchases through sales negotiations, think about quotes, the additional rebates that might be available on top of prices offered in store, special payment options (installments, deposits, 30 to 60 day payment options, etc.), delivery and potential returns policies, etc. The online sales cycle needs to adapt to, and reflect, the reality of B2B trading.

> Customising your B2B visitor experience. Develop your sales using all the Actinic features: offering to remember customer IDs, highlighting recently viewed items, personalised recommendations and customer and product reviews.
> If your company also sells from physical stores, you could highlight extra online discounts or benefits (i.e. free shipping, % discounts, extra products free with orders, etc.) to "educate" your customers on using your online store (less time consuming for you). The advantage of an online client area is having a purchase order history all in one place, making re-ordering easier and time-saving. It’s easy to offer ‘online only’ promotions and special offers to increase traffic from your physical store to your estore.

    "The multi-price feature allows us to create several categories of users based on their profiles. In addition to our public, standard fee structure, we offer special rates for guides and professionals, which they can access from their confirmed accounts. We’re positioned as a real purchasing hub for professionals in the B2B market now, which brings in 60% of our turnover."
    Eric Silici - SportsoutdoorShop

Your B2B approach needs to bring together the best of both worlds, B2C and B2B, whilst respecting the fundamentals:

> Promote your best features and offers (promotions, promising commercial characteristics, B2B specific features, etc.)
> Reassure your site visitors (clearly displaying trust elements; payment and delivery options, customer reviews, contact details, etc.)
> Simplify your site navigation, sticking to the principle that you should find what you want in a maximum of 3 clicks (predictive search, faceted search, product suggestions, customer recommendations, etc.)
03 Why you should connect your ecommerce website to Sage's business management software. . .
Make the most of every opportunity to develop your B2B sales! Install and configure Actinic Link for Sage 50 accounts:

    "The high-performance automation of many administrative tasks makes it’s possible to manage a site in under 2 days a week."
    Fabien Bourly

Increase productivity and your margins
By linking to Sage, you’ll recieve automatic updates regarding customers, orders and stock levels.
Once installed and configured you can chose how frequently you wish to receive updates (e.g. hourly) and you won't have any more web orders to process. Your customers will be able to check stock levels and access their tariffs. Satisfied clients and more time for you; everything you need to succeed!

    "Automating tasks saves us valuable time that we can put into the development of new sites. Actinic automatic synchronization software like DataPlug or accounting software (which gives real-time updates of customers, orders and inventory), we can offer an even better quality of service to our customers."
    Fabien Bourly -

DataPlug saves you time by allowing you to populate and update your site with large amounts of data (products, images, customer database, etc.) quickly and efficiently. You can also download your orders in next to no time.

    "Our site generates hundred of orders a month and everything is automated through Sage. We can put the time saved into customer acquisition and retention."
    P-F Boselli - Histoire & Collections
Sage is the number one business management software in Europe (90,000 clients in England, France and Spain), and they chose Actinic as their ecommerce partner to expand their offer. They are perfectly situated to understand the B2B sector and together, Sage and Actinic share the same quality standards and offer a comprehensive, integrated solution specifically adapted to meet SME’s needs.
Whatever your level of expertise in selling to the B2B market, Actinic is on your side, helping you to gain a share in this growing market; a global market worth $12 trillion by 2020, according to Frost and Sullivan, world leaders in growth consultancy. Now is the time to prepare for tomorrow's sales!

Whether you opt for a generic B2B approach or a dedicated e-store, now you just need quality traffic to boost your sales. Most marketing techniques work just as well for B2B as they do for B2C so follow our Actinic Expert Advice on acquisition strategies to understand how to gain new customers and generate sales quickly and long term.

Over to you!