B2B marketplaces: How to remain competitive and retain customers

Ethan Cumming
Content Writer

The B2B marketplace has seen some significant changes of late. While there are many advantages offered to B2B buyers, the environment has become more and more challenging. There has been a rise in the number of B2B e-commerce operators meaning that competition is fierce. Beyond this, the internet also makes it so much easier for buyers to bypass your platform entirely and go directly to a supplier. 

As a business, there needs to be a focus on increasing revenue. This can only be done by expanding your customer base. However, it has long been accepted that the cost of customer acquisition is much higher than focusing on retention. The reality is that there needs to be a healthy balance between the two.

Here are our tips to help you navigate a crowded space so that you stay competitive and hold on to your customers.

Customer service matters

In the B2B e-commerce space, it’s pointless trying to compete on price alone. There is always going to be another provider somewhere that can undercut you. Trying to compete just devalues a product and leads to a race to the bottom. Rather than purely focusing on price, focus on how you treat your customers and give them a reason to stay with you.

Customer service involves any interaction with your customers. Be sure that you're easy to contact across various channels and be sure that you're quick to respond. Rather than sending generic emails, pick up the phone and have one-to-one conversations with your clients. These little extra touches will make you stand out and make your B2B marketplace the obvious choice. 

Implement a loyalty program 

If you want your B2B customers to keep coming back it’s worth exploring what you can offer them by way of an incentive. When looking at the world of B2C, loyalty programs and rewards are easy. However, things get a little more complicated in B2B as you tend to be dealing with groups rather than an individual.

You could make your loyalty program as simple as offering stepped discounts. When a customer places their nth order this could lead to a percentage off. Alternatively, you could explore options where your buyers are offered certain perks and gestures that make them feel rewarded. 

Show that you can be trusted 

The reality is that you can’t establish trust overnight. If you want to prove that you’re trustworthy, your customers are going to have to give you the time to do so. Once that trust is established, there is a much-reduced possibility of your customers abandoning you and going to a competitor. It’s worth bearing in mind though that a single slip up can destroy any of the trust that has been created and leave you losing your clients.

Some ways that you can work towards building trust are:

  • Ensuring that your communication is transparent at all times 
  • Publishing authentic content
  • Sending messages that are both personal and engaging
  • Tapping into the benefits of social proof and showing how you’re already trusted 
  • Ensuring that you’re always contactable

Be inspiring 

We’ve already said that price isn’t the sole factor that goes into a purchasing decision. In your quest to gain more customers, and increase loyalty, you should look to be an inspiration. If you show that your business cares about the same causes that your buyers do then you can create loyalty. What do your customers care about? Are there any charities that they support? Are they passionate about their local community?

If you can answer these types of questions, you can position yourself as a business that cares too. You could look at making charitable donations or holding sponsored events. These kinds of actions can make your customers feel proud that they’ve chosen to do business with you. 

Encourage feedback

Feedback can be useful for your business. It provides a great learning tool that allows you to see where you excel, as well as where you need to develop. However, feedback isn’t just about you. Customers prefer to deal with businesses that encourage feedback. In fact, across the globe, some 77% of consumers state this. The world of B2B is no different.

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to provide feedback. Ensure that you respond and demonstrate that you’ve taken on board what you’ve been told. 

Offer convenience

Whatever is for sale on your B2B e-commerce site, you need to ensure that you’re offering convenience. As your customers are businesses themselves, you can be sure that they have 100 other things to do than spend hours on your site. That means that they need to be able to go through the buying process with ease.

Be sure that your site is easy to navigate and that the user experience is a great one. Look at your site load times so that you’re not putting customers off. Also, review your shipping methods so that your customers’ orders are being delivered within a timescale that suits them.

Be the expert 

Make your website a font of information. Include content that’s interesting and relevant to your customers. Be sure to include the type of articles that educate and provide takeaways that your customers can go away and implement.

By doing this, you will be seen as the expert in your space. This all adds to that trust that we’ve spoken about and ensures that customers stick with you.

Provide smart payment options

As businesses, your customers need to protect their cash flow. This means that they will actively seek out forms of payment that suit them best. To stand out from the crowd, and to remain competitive, you should explore the possibility of offering the smart payment options your buyers expect.

For centuries, businesses have relied on trade credit in order to delay the cost of their purchases, so you need to find a way to offer that functionality online. Hokodo’s B2B Buy Now, Pay Later solution does just that.

We allow your customers to defer payment for their purchases while ensuring that you get paid upfront and are not exposed to any of the risk. Book a demo and we’ll show you just how you can offer this modern trade credit solution to your customers.