Your online store filled with tasty, sustainable food and drink is booming – and now you want to grow even bigger? If your focus has been more on B2C customers to date, you still have untapped potential for sales growth in a completely new area. An increasing number of commercial customers are turning to online shops and marketplaces.
But what may seem like low-hanging fruit for large corporations can be tricky for newcomers to grapple with at first, especially if they don’t want to invest additional time and money into a second online store. Many food startups initially focus on serving the B2C market with their e-commerce shop. But very different rules apply when trying to establish a foothold in B2B trading. Aside from that, corporate customers have different expectations. How can young enterprises still manage to support B2B and B2C trading in one shop? And is it even worth it?
Small and medium-sized enterprises, young startups, small offices, and agencies – they are all discovering the convenience of online stores for their office purchases.
Some popular office purchases include:
Office managers prefer these things to be delivered automatically, e.g. with a food subscription for snacks, or a coffee subscription to keep the coffee-drinkers topped up. The advantage for you as a seller is that this allows you to generate predictable sales and retain your B2B customers long term.
If you offer products suitable for offices and can even offer subscriptions, then you’ll be sure to find corporate customers. While these customers make regular purchases, but rarely require the same quantities as larger corporate groups, conventional wholesale sales structures are usually inappropriate for them.
Instead, more and more companies are using food services and online shops to procure food and beverages. This is where you can score easy wins: You are much more familiar with these manageable order sizes through your B2C trading.
Offering food B2B simply expands your existing customer segment and you can comfortably apply the experience you have gained. That said, different customer groups do have very different needs.
Whenever an end consumer uses your shop, they take inspiration from your product images and content, look for discount codes and samples, and sometimes they’ll make spontaneous purchases. Companies have different requirements and also search for products in a very different way.
Let’s take coffee as an example: Pandemic aside for a moment, normally a lot of coffee gets brewed in most office kitchens. One bag of coffee beans every two weeks isn’t going to cut it. That’s why corporate customers need coffee machines that remain reliable even when in frequent, heavy use. They also need their coffee in larger packaging, to ensure they aren’t constantly needing to order more – depending on the number of staff, of course.
Differences in requirements between online stores for B2C and those for B2B. B2B customers attach great importance to detailed product information, such as minimum order quantities, and like to purchase the best quality for their employees. Corporate customers also usually receive different prices and conditions compared with B2C customers.
In terms of payment, corporate customers will often expect a B2B online shop to indicate net prices, offer customer-specific discounts, and support payment by direct debit or payment on invoice.
Reliability should be a given regardless of customer. However, this is particularly critical for B2B customers. There is also a premium placed on flexibility. They want the option of regular deliveries, but with enough freedom to adjust order quantities from time to time or try new varieties of your food and drink offerings.
Last but not least, it is important to have an overview of past orders so that there are no problems with the tax authorities and you can quickly reorder the same products again even without a subscription. You’ll also have to meet different legal requirements in B2B sales compared with B2C and adjust your terms and other documents accordingly.
In summary, your online shop must fulfil the following points if you want to serve both B2B and B2C:
The mission and its challenges are clear. How can you expand the reach of your B2C food business to B2B customers? The easiest way is to use a system that serves and satisfies both customer groups.
Most food startups are using shop systems such as Shopify these days, which is ideal for B2C use. It is theoretically possible to serve both B2B and B2C buyers just using one of these shop systems. But there are so many settings and compromises required to ensure everything works exactly the way you’d like.
The solution lies in a tool that works in the background, ensuring uniform data quality across all your channels, allowing you to easily manage different customer groups and optimize your processes for both B2C and B2B segments. An ERP such as Xentral is ideal in this scenario: you can integrate it with all commonly used shop systems and your favorite tools.
A flexible ERP system offers several advantages for your B2B expansion:
As a food and beverage startup, you face considerable challenges. Strict regulations, picky customers, and last-mile problems make it hard to focus on your core business. But at the end of the day, it’s all about having a strong product that satisfies and delights as many people as possible.
With Xentral by your side, you can focus on growing your business and satisfying your customers – no matter whether they enjoy your products at home or at the office. B2C and B2B customers are managed entirely via one single platform, making it easy to meet their different requirements.
Food and beverage startups have to compete with some of the biggest businesses in the world. But are you eager to serve not just smaller customers, but also larger ones, too? That’s easy with Xentral – no matter whether you’re a coffee specialist that wants to sell coffee subscriptions for offices, a small online wine trader that wants to supply hotels and restaurants, or any type of food or beverage enterprise eager to internationalize your business.
And even if you decide you’d rather split your B2B and B2C offerings between two separate shops, you can still continue to use Xentral to coordinate everything in the usual way thanks to its sophisticated multichannel support.
The next step for your business
Geschrieben von Janina Horn