The use of online ordering by retailers as the primary route to market has grown by more than 350% in the past eight years, with 26% of retailers using online as the main method to place their order in 2008 and 98% in 2018. Despite this huge shift, the B2B online space is still far behind that of B2C online space in terms of insight and advice on how to best optimise the websites, writes HIM’s Chloe Kent. That being said, some suppliers see 10+ times more value pass through the online B2B channel versus online grocery/pure play, meaning there is a massive opportunity for suppliers to unlock significant revenue gains if they get their strategy right.

With only 20% of retailers visiting wholesalers’ websites to just place an order, retailers are using websites for alternative reasons. For example, 72% are visiting wholesalers’ websites to check prices and 34% to see what products are available. As a result online provides a massive opportunity for suppliers to be engaging with and influencing retailers’ shopper decisions.

However, the biggest frustrations to retailers apart from availability are that it is hard to find items and the websites are too complex to use. Therefore, optimising these areas provides an opportunity for both supplier and wholesaler.

As well as the fact retailers are moving to online, they are also using multiple platforms to place orders, with some using websites on desktop, tablet and phone, while others choose to use wholesaler apps. As a result it is becoming crucial to understand not only how to optimise online, but to understand the differences in how retailers shop these different platforms, and the result should be reflected in suppliers’ B2B e-commerce strategies.

A B2B e-commerce strategy that fits into every food and grocery business does not exist. There are key areas for wholesalers and suppliers to focus on, but the end result is very much dependent on the behaviour of retailers. With demand for convenience growing and information widely accessible across a range of different platforms, it is vital that suppliers embrace and invest in B2B e-commerce and are knowledgeable as to the key guiding principles.