The competition among B2B ecommerce portals has been heating up with the entry of several new players who are looking to expand their presence across products and geographies. These portals are wooing small and medium enterprises to transact on their platforms with offers to support them with marketing, logistics and even credit. The rise of B2B ecommerce presents an interesting opportunity to SMEs who can leverage it to enter new markets and gain more insights on their customers.
Table 1: Leading Indian B2B e-commerce platform
With the advent and increasing use of e commerce platforms, some of the issues faced by small businesses in selling online have eased, as these portals provide much needed marketing and logistics support. SMEs can harness the power e-commerce opportunity through the following strategies.Small businesses find it difficult to sell online as the competitive landscape for selling goods online is very different from offline market place, where the sale is relationship based and competition is mostly local. As such, to sell online, the product should be searchable, able to compete with local as well as national products and should be delivered in a timely and efficient manner.
Key strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises
Document the sale process
Since sale of industrial machinery part is a consultative process, a SME owner typically spends most of his/her time consulting with the clients to customise machinery to client’s requirements. For example, a ghee machine supplier needs to understand the manufacturing process (manual or automated), raw material (milk, cream or butter), and capacity and cold storage facilities of the client before designing the machine.
SMEs need to document the sales consultation process in detail, which can then be used to design automated systems that can accommodate different buyer requirements and provide ballpark pricing.
Enable product comparison
In order to differentiate itself among a number of products available online, the SMEs need to provide detailed information on the product quality, raw material, manufacturing process and testing infrastructure available with the company. For example, the quality of a plastic product would depend the manufacturing process (injection moulding machine, extrusion machine or a hand layup process), polymer used and quality control measures adopted by the manufacturer. Precise product description and comparison would also reduce product return, a major pain point for small businesses.
Segment your market
SMEs must ensure that ecommerce doesn’t cannibalize their sales from existing sales channels (sales representatives and distributor channels). Therefore it’s important to segment the products into different categories depending on the business size, complexity of the product, buying cycle, discounts offered, geography, demography etc. Thereafter, the portfolio could be clearly demarcated into segments that would be sold through both the e-commerce and traditional platforms/channels.
There is no better time to start selling industrial goods online. Small businesses should have a strategy in place to select the products to be sold through e commerce route, build capacity to meet the requirements of new customers and to choose the right ecommerce platform.
How can we help you?
FineTrain is a consulting firm for entrepreneurs, we help our clients grow their businesses. We can assist you in getting your business ready for e commerce and in planning your ecommerce strategy.
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