How to use the full potential of e-commerce in B2B trade through price and discount policy?

You’ve built a technically well-functioning B2B online store, but in the end it turned out no different from your previous static website? Sales did not increase noticeably and the platform is reduced to the role of yet another internal software to improve sales processes and make work easier for the employees. Do you want to know how to fully explore the marketing potential of e-commerce in B2B sales?

The above-mentioned static website with a description of who you are and what you sell, with your phone number or a contact form is nothing but a virtual catalog. It’s a digitization of advertising folders – you simply transfer them from paper to servers. Of course, thanks to this you may increase the range of your offer, but the purchase process for your client remains long and complex.

After all, it doesn’t make much difference for your existing and potential buyers whether they will receive a list of services and products on a leaflet or computer screen. They still have to follow the same purchasing process – fill in the form or make a call.

It is very easy to reduce even a large and sophisticated B2B online store to the role of the above-mentioned static website or a program for internal communication with regular customers. Usually, it is a result of a simple but significant decision – to hide prices from people who are unregistered and unvalidated by the administrator. Someone may argue here – “I can’t show the same prices to all my clients” – that’s true, but there are some other ways to achieve that. Here are some of them.

If you don’t display prices to a potential customer who enters your store for the first time, you simply reduce the likelihood of establishing cooperation with them. The platform, without specific information about how much you have to pay for the product or what are the shipping costs, becomes one of the many static pages with photos and product descriptions that your customers often visit. In such a situation, it is impossible to make a quick order – a new person in the store does not have the option to immediately add the product to the cart and pay for it – first, he or she is forced to complete the entire tedious procedure – register an account, wait for its acceptance and go through the discount negotiation procedure with the sales department.

Wouldn’t it be better to operate more according to the rules of the B2C online store here, even if you are selling to businesses? After all, non-business customers also get rebates when shopping online. So let’s set some starting prices visible to everyone – displayed without any discounts. Be sure to put an easily noticeable information that “prices are negotiable”. You may add  “the bigger purchase, the bigger discount” or “longer cooperation means better discounts”. It’s also important to make it possible for the customer to contact you quickly and easily – preferably via chat or phone.

During a quick, sometimes even a few minutes’ conversation, the store staff or the sales department can negotiate a discount with your potential customer. After the negotiations, all you need to do is provide them with the correct discount code for immediate use in the cart. It is also beneficial to encourage the customer to set up an account – after all, it makes cyclical shopping much easier and more enjoyable. Additionally, when prices are visible, customers see the starting level of the negotiation and may appreciate the value of your products more.

Alternatively, you can decide to “center” the prices, that is, publish them with small discounts and then encourage customers to buy only with a slight discount or even without it. In this case, it may turn out that even non-business customers would start to buy in your B2B store. If you sell, for example, car repair tools, DIY enthusiasts can join the group of customers such as car repair shops. You just need to remember that products sold to B2C customers have GTIN codes (so-called EAN), which the manufacturer needs to provide. GTINs are required only for sales to non-business customers.

Remember – only by displaying prices you can enjoy a full-fledged online store. This will allow you to call your e-commerce a marketing tool. Otherwise, you’ll only have a B2B platform that makes it easy to place orders for regular customers. The publication of prices will also have a positive effect on visibility in search engines.

Of course,  published prices work as a kind of a lure for new customers. If they register an account and make the first purchase, let them use all the standard functions of the B2B platform – e.g. one-click renewal of the purchase, including previously negotiated discounts. In such a way you get a 2in1 solution – an online store and a B2B platform.

You may also consider showing prices only for selected products – this type of technical functionality, however, is not a standard. If you would like to be able to show prices only for a part of your assortment, you have to ask the software provider about it.

Much depends on the specifics of a particular company or its target group. Price reveal has been used successfully in a variety of industries. However, in some companies this is not possible. All in all, it is definitely worth, at the very least carefully, to analyze the discount policy on the online store.