How to prepare for selling to businesses
Whether you’re a “bricks and mortar” retailer, an ecommerce store, or another type of supplier, you’re probably already selling direct to consumers. If you want to sell to other businesses as a vendor, there are some things you’ll need to do differently. We’ll start by looking at what consumers typically want from their products and services, and then compare that to selling to other businesses.
How consumers and businesses compare when they’re purchasing goods
Shopping is going through a revolution – With more than 7% of all purchases being made online, and the changing face of shops in Main Street, we’ve never had more choice. Here are the main differences between selling to consumers vs. selling to businesses, and how you can start to make the transition.
- Selling to consumers – Reviews drive online purchasing decisions for consumers more than any area except for price. The more stars a product has, the more chance it has of getting purchased.
- Selling to businesses – To a business, reputation is more important than reviews. Your prospective clients may look to their peers for feedback on what you’re like to do business with.
- How to prepare – Ensure that every interaction with your business customers is a good one. Train your customer service staff and account managers to deal with your business clients carefully. If something goes wrong, immediately offer to put things right, even if it costs you money.
- Selling to consumers – Consumers can choose from a large variety of price points for different types of items. There’s generally a basic, value price point, a mid-level price point, and a luxury price point. The actual difference in the quality of the items isn’t as important as the “perceived value” of the items at each price point.
- Selling to businesses – Businesses will buy items from you depending on what part of the market they’re selling to. Some businesses will focus on high-end, luxury brands, while others will rely on sellings lots of budget items.
- How to prepare – Do some market research and learn what types of businesses you want to focus on first, and learn how to market to them. Once you’ve started to build up business clients in that space, think about expanding to other price points.
- Selling to consumers – Consumers want good quality items that do what they say they will. People expect value for money, and part of the value is the durability, functionality, and ease of use of the items they’re purchasing.
- Selling to businesses – Businesses want everything that consumers want (as they’re going to be selling on to those consumers) but they may well look deeper into how products are made, their country of origin, the quality of the materials used, safety, etc.
- How to prepare – Make sure you understand the full lifecycle of the products you’re selling, from raw materials, through manufacturing, regulations, and distribution. Get an idea of the quality of your products, and the specifics of how they are made.
- Selling to consumers – Consumers want to get their items quickly. If they’re buying from your shop, that’s generally not an issue. If you’re sending them the items or special ordering, a fast turnaround can make the sale.
- Selling to businesses – For businesses, it’s all about fast and reliable distribution. From the moment they place an order, they’ll expect it to be picked, packed, and shipped quickly. They also expect to receive the products in an excellent, saleable condition.
- How to prepare – Make sure that your picking and packing processes are efficient, and that you’ve got the right packing materials to keep your products safe in transit. Explain clearly to your business customers how soon they’ll receive the items after ordering.
- Selling to consumers – Consumers want lots of choice – That means lots of different types of products to choose from. If they can, they’ll want to pick the exact type of item that works for them. This means choosing the right size, color, finish, and anything else to meet their needs.
- Selling to businesses – Because businesses are selling on to consumers, they will want a good quantity of all the sizes, colors, finishes, and other areas, so they can meet their consumer’s needs. This means you’ll have to supply plenty of all the different combinations and item types you offer.
- How to prepare – To begin with, make sure you can carry enough stock to meet the minimum requirements of your business customers. As they start to sell your items, ask them which ones are the most popular. You can then increase your stock levels of those items to meet future needs.
Pricing and payment terms
- Selling to consumers – Typically, you’ll collect payment from a consumer before sending them their items.
- Selling to businesses – Most retailers will expect “Keystone pricing” – This is normally the retail price of the item less 50%. They will also expect favorable payment terms (the length of time between you sending them the goods and when they have to pay.) 30 day and 60 day terms are typical.
- How to prepare – Make sure you understand your profit margins and price your items appropriately. Don’t try to get away with offering anything worse than keystone pricing, your business customers won’t like it. Make sure you’ve got good financial management in place so you’ve got enough money in your business to bridge the gap between shipping and payment.
Ease of ordering
- Selling to consumers – The process of ordering and buying an item should be almost transparent to customers. The easier it is, the more chance of them completing the purchase.
- Selling to businesses – Businesses also want easy ordering – For them, it’s all about efficiency. The less time they need to spend browsing your goods and making purchasing decisions, the better. This means you should give them a simple, online ordering system, repeatable orders, easy order management, and more.
- How to prepare – We’ve developed the perfect online ordering system for vendors like you. It’s fast and easy for your business customers to use, and brings the ease of ordering from Amazon to your wholesale business.
Selling to businesses gives you a great new distribution route and can significantly increase your turnover and profits. Understanding the difference between selling to consumers and selling to businesses is essential. Make sure you have the time, effort, and money to make any changes you need to, and you’ll start to build some very lucrative relationships with your business customers.