Wholesale eCommerce: Importance, Advantages & Choosing a Platform
Learn about the critical role of eCommerce in wholesale business. Gain insight into retail vs. wholesale eCommerce, and how to find a great platform.
In the contemporary marketplace, digital purchasing has emerged as the preferred choice for consumers, and B2B wholesale industries have moved to the forefront of this transformation. As in retail, B2B wholesale customers enjoy the convenience of online ordering - from saving time and effort to gaining visibility into order statuses, order histories, and payments.
In fact, B2B eCommerce is forecasted to reach a whopping $2.47 Trillion by 2026 in the United States alone. This is more than double the size of traditional B2C eCommerce, mainly due to large order volumes. On top of that, 73% of B2B buyers are now Millennials who exert significant power in the purchasing landscape.
In the realm of B2B eCommerce, success lies in offering buying experiences that are tailored to professional and vertical requirements. This includes offering critical factors such as efficient ordering processes, online quotes, customer-specific pricing, special terms, and advanced self-service.
In this guide, we dive deep into the world of eCommerce for wholesale, and answer common questions such as:
- Why is eCommerce for wholesale important?
- What's the difference between retail and wholesale eCommerce?
- What are the common types of wholesalers?
- How do I choose the best wholesale eCommerce suite?
The Critical Role of eCommerce in Wholesale
eCommerce plays a decisive and critical role in wholesale, transforming business models and reshaping how B2B transactions occur. The monumental impact is apparent in these key stats:
- According to a study by Gartner, 83% of B2B buyers prefer using eCommerce for ordering and payment, and 80% of B2B sales will occur in digital channels by 2025.
- B2B eCommerce sales are expected to reach 3 trillion dollars by 2027 in the United States alone, based on a compound annual growth rate of 10.7% since 2021, when it hit 1.7 trillion dollars.
- 53% of B2B revenue will come from digital channels by 2024.
- According to a 2022 survey, 44% of B2B marketers plan to invest in eCommerce platforms and site features.
The immensity of this movement is largely due to eCommerce's benefits to wholesalers and buyers alike. An eCommerce platform is a 24/7/365 automated sales channel that dramatically wides sales intake beyond the limitations of time zones, geographies, and even languages, allowing companies to expand their reach to new customers and markets and allowing more customers to shop their favorite brands. With eCommerce, companies can provide better customer experiences through personalized experiences and offers, self-service features, and multiple options for customer service. The advanced capabilities of eCommerce help reduce order errors. And the benefits go on.
What's the difference between retail and wholesale eCommerce?
In many ways, the trends and practices of retail eCommerce influence wholesale transactions. After all, wholesale buyers are also consumers who expect high levels of convenience and engagement when making purchases. However, wholesalers often require advanced features that retailers do not. These features address wholesalers' unique needs and complexities in business transactions.
For example, wholesalers typically establish credit relationships with their B2B customers, allowing them to pay by invoice or using Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers. This is necessary to accommodate negotiation processes and extended payment cycles typical in wholesale transactions, which differ from the immediate payments provided by retail customers.
Regarding negotiations, wholesale transactions frequently involve customizations and tailored quotes based on many factors, such as quantity, variations, and specifications. Wholesale transactions also commonly involve customer-specific pricing based on loyalty, order history, and negotiated terms. In a wholesale eCommerce platform, buyers can access personalized pricing that is shown in real-time and create custom quotes. Wholesale eCommerce also facilitates volume pricing so businesses can incentivize customers to purchase larger orders to benefit both parties.
What are the common types of wholesalers using eCommerce?
eCommerce has transformed how wholesalers conduct business, expanding their capacity to improve customer engagement and efficiency. Many different types of wholesalers can utilize eCommerce platforms to connect with customers, streamline operations, and expand their market reach. Here are some examples:
Traditional wholesalers offer retailers, businesses, and other intermediaries a wide array of products. eCommerce platforms allow them to digitize their catalog, streamline order processing, and improve customer relationships.
Dropshipping wholesalers are unique in that they sell products without maintaining stock. When an order is placed, instead of pulling from inventory, they purchase the product from a third party, who then ships it directly to the customer. eCommerce enables dropshippers to create an online storefront, effortlessly fulfill orders, and seamlessly manage this complex workflow.
Wholesale Manufacturers and Suppliers
eCommerce is revolutionary for manufacturers and suppliers because it allows them to connect directly with their customers and exert more control over their brands. Manufacturers and suppliers can use eCommerce to sell products directly to retailers, distributors, and end consumers. In addition to allowing them to maintain greater control over brand and pricing, this method also expands access to a broader market.
Distributors are crucial intermediaries that source products from manufacturers and sell them to retailers, typically within a specific industry niche. By embracing wholesale eCommerce, distributors can offer a comprehensive online ordering system, meticulously manage inventory levels in real time, and streamline order tracking.
Liquidators and Clearance Wholesalers
Liquidators and clearance wholesalers specialize in selling surplus, overstock, or clearance merchandise at discounted prices. eCommerce provides a convenient way for them to reach a larger audience and move excess inventory quickly. By leveraging wholesale eCommerce, liquidators, and clearance wholesalers can address surplus stock challenges, establish an efficient inventory turnover cycle, and connect more directly with customers across the globe.
Wholesale Importers and Exporters
Importers acquire products from international manufacturers and sell them to domestic customers, and exporters do the opposite. eCommerce helps importers and exporters navigate the intricacies of international trade by simplifying cross-border transactions, documentation, and communication with international stakeholders. Similarly, eCommerce allows importers and exporters to connect with a global audience and improve their competitiveness.
Parts and Equipment Wholesalers
Spare parts and equipment wholesalers specializing in automotive, electronic, and other industries can leverage eCommerce to provide an extensive inventory to customers such as repair shops and manufacturers. Customers benefit significantly from parts and components eCommerce because it expands the opportunities to source rare or vintage parts or components. With eCommerce, customers can also benefit from the ability to select the right parts based on rich and accurate product data. In 2021 the automotive industry alone, parts and supplies sales amounted to 470.6 billion dollars.
Food and Beverage Wholesalers
Food and beverage wholesalers supply restaurants, cafes, and retailers with various products, from fresh produce to packaged goods. eCommerce allows personalized experiences, customized and flexible pricing, and easy reordering. Food and beverage wholesalers also use eCommerce to sell their products and expand their offerings into new categories that defy traditional wholesale models.
Apparel and Fashion Wholesalers
Apparel and fashion wholesalers can use eCommerce to showcase their clothing, accessories, and footwear collections to retailers and boutiques. The industry benefits greatly from the ease of wholesale shopping and buying. In fact, the total value of wholesale apparel trade in the United States totaled 45 billion dollars just in 2021.
Horticulture and Agriculture Wholesalers
Horticulture and agriculture wholesalers leverage eCommerce to provide rich product information specific to geographic regions and climates and manage time-sensitive order fulfillment. eCommerce also allows companies to provide shipping date-based ordering and offer recommendations and promotions based on customer location, inventory availability, seasonality, purchasing history, and more.
Medical and Healthcare Equipment Wholesalers
Wholesalers specializing in medical equipment, supplies, and products can use eCommerce to efficiently serve hospitals, clinics, healthcare professionals, and retailers. Medical equipment suppliers can use eCommerce to control product offers and inventory based on customers' locations and needs.
Choosing the Best Wholesale eCommerce Suite
Choosing the best wholesale eCommerce suite can be challenging. Look for a platform that can fulfill your B2B or D2C requirements, support the needs of your unique industry, and grow with your business.
DynamicWeb simplifies complex eCommerce challenges with a powerful, all-in-one Commerce suite that includes PIM, eCommerce, Marketing, and CMS and features standard integrations to leading ERP solutions like Microsoft Dynamics. Everything is offered in one user-friendly interface that reduces complexity and lowers the total cost of ownership.
Want to go more in-depth on the topic? Watch our free on-demand webinar, eCommerce for B2B Wholesale: Must-Have Features and Best Practices.