Several Challenges for B2B eCommerce

The New Year is here! And with it, even more conveniences will be afforded to the average shopper. For many, 2014 will usher in luxuries like buy anywhere/return anywhere and the option of same-day deliveries. Assuredly, the ease of making retail transactions will be taken to the next level.

Over the course of 2013, the team at NetSphere Strategies spoke with a variety of professionals in B2B procurement, who indicated that they unfortunately aren’t as hopeful for what’s to come in 2014. Unlike today’s consumers who discover new eCommerce features on a daily basis, too many of their purchasing partners still have to pick up the phone and cross their fingers that their sales rep is available to put in an order.

The question then is: In a world of so many new technologies, why are the manufacturing and distribution industries behind the times when it comes to eCommerce? As it turns out, the reasons are many. From complex sales channels to multiple product lines, B2B business owners are often faced with challenges that retailers aren’t often burdened with.

Those issues, unique to B2B businesses, start with:

1. The need for customer-specific pricing. Trusted channel partners and long-time customers don’t just materialize out of thin air. Those relationships must be cultivated over time. The fastest way to damage those relationships? Treat every single customer and client the same on your online store where first-time buyers are no different than your purchasing partners. The alternative? Introduce contract and pricing logic to automatically manage those B2B relationships based on predefined rules and contract terms.

2. Customers with incredibly tight delivery schedules. Sure, typical consumers want their items to arrive with lightning speed, but often times, those deliveries aren’t business critical. And often they only contain one or two items as opposed to a bulk order. By using logistics tools like IBM’s Sterling Transportation Management System, the fulfillment process is streamlined, allowing manufacturers and distributors to quickly turn-around orders.

But what if you already have a supply chain management tool? Most eCommerce development firms can – at the very least – handle the integration. Or, they can make recommendations for a new, scalable logistics tool that can carry a company into the future as easily as it can carry goods from point A to point B.

3. Promote multiple product lines or brands under one parent company. By creating a unique microsite for each brand or product line, a manufacturer or distributor can maximize the return on the overhead costs associated with an eCommerce site. Essentially, a microsite is just a small part of a bigger system, and because most enterprise-level eCommerce platforms, and many priced for the mid-market, can accommodate various smaller subset sites, business owners can manage as many sites as they need.

4. Branch into B2C while avoiding multi-channel sales conflicts. Selling on eCommerce marketplaces is a great way to reach a broad consumer base. However, some channel partners might be disappointed – even angered – to see the Amazons of the world swooping in and taking away their customers. And rightfully so. Therefore, it’s often recommended to only market products that aren’t already flying off your shelves thanks to the work of sales partners. By giving sales partners first dibs at your top performers, they’ll stay happy, and some of your other lesser-known products can find success online.

5. Too many products with only slight variations. This hurdle can be solved with a robust site search function. Parametric search allows site visitors to search for an item based on specific parameters or particular attributes – as granular as item dimensions or material composition. When a B2B business owner can bring value to a commodity item, such as a nut or a bolt, they’ve done their job and then some.

6. The need to custom-configure products. Although some B2Bers might not realize it, sophisticated eCommerce technology exists that allows clients to not only configure but also view custom products in real-time. This technology represents one realm where manufacturers can learn from the retail industry. Back in 2005, Converse shoes started allowing shoppers to design their own sneakers, and recently, Dodge released its Dart configurator where car shoppers can personally tailor the vehicle of their dreams.

7. The need to manage the customer relationship. Most B2B relationships are the responsibility of a sales team. Often, this includes coordination between inside sales and outside sales or independent representatives. Website content and eCommerce can be integrated with CRM solutions, including, to inform the sales team of customer interest and to give credit for self-service purchases.

Additional issues, which plague B2B and B2C businesses alike, include a lack of marketing and eCommerce development skills. No matter the business or the industry, however, there’s no mandate to tackle everything in-house. Many of the most successful online stores got to where they are today by working with outside contractors to implement cutting-edge technologies and marketing campaigns.


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Foreign trade: the potential of email marketing knowledge

For many years, email marketing is one of the most useful tools  in foreign trade . It has a number of advantages, such as relatively low cost, customers can easily go to your website to browse and buy, and so on. For these reasons, e-mail has become a tool for many power companies to get high returns.

If a customer has bought something from you, or is already interested in your product, then  email marketing is relatively easier.

However, if you want to reach new customers and open new outlets in an e-mail message, that is what happens?

Then we describes  six main points to develop new customers by email:


1, email marketing is an investment

If we can gain new customers through email everytime, so we are on troubles like this. However, the fact is that (in the case of most of the marketing channel) for the cost of a new customer, often more than you get from the customer  for the first time. We have prepared enough on this point. However, the development of new customers is the key point, subsequent proceeds and resulting from these new customers could return. A Word, before starting the e-mail marketing, to draw up a budget and you want to have a relatively achievable expectations.


2, after a message is received, reaction of potential customers is different from  existing customers

We hardly ever hear of such a thing: when we were sent to a strange e-mail subscribers after an email, then received his orders, unless your company is a well-known brand, and gives a very attractive offer, this will happen. A initial contacts into customer processes like dancing, you must systematically design steps of their own.

Relative to you both of customers,  you  customers may directly points open mail and buy , and you first contact of potential customers may will into you  website browse content, however for procurement conditions compared survey, see you with other suppliers has what different, then he may left , but as long as you to he produced has good of impression, he also may through Google search again into you of website after.


3, email marketing takes a lot of time

Successfully develop new customers by email, it may take you months of time, messages and if you implement a systematic outreach program to develop new customers and takes longer. During this process, you have to continually weighs the content of traditional email marketing activities, optimize, improve the content, while focusing on considerations to several elements, test, modify:

Message subject;


Deployment time;

As soon as you send e-mail to a customer for the first time there is a low probability of success. So, you send us an email to continue the process of observation, test, modify some of the content, but also keep repeating these behaviors. Only in this way, your email marketing plan will only become stronger. In addition, when you have one or two times after setbacks, do not give up easily, this is crucial.


4, sustainability is key

As soon as you discover your email feature took effect, so that a potential customer into a customer, so you have to keep repeating to try this. Some attempt might be more effective than the other, remember them, and continued to implement them.


5, through analytical tools to track trends

A new customer purchasing habits might have looked very different. For us, tracking a new customer purchasing habits is much more difficult. I have found, named "matchback" analysis tool to work, the analysis tool can open show potential customers what kind of promotional messages. At the same time, we can also associate him with the same time compares customer who places the order for the first time, and have found some patterns. In General, we cannot directly through the link and code to track sales, however matchback appears it solved the problem.


6, potential customers are leaving before he can

Many potential customers browsing your website for the first time, only comparison in order to make purchases, they may be leaving soon, and not like existing customers on your website in the search for new content or visit regularly. Therefore, you need to use all means as much as possible, converting those visitors into your customers.

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Jetstar, AirAsia forging budget airline alliance

Jetstar and AirAsia introduced plans Wednesday to cut costs and ticket prices as the first measure that could change the budget market in Asia.

"By getting together and focusing on areas where we can actually reduce costs we think it's a really exciting opportunity," said Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan, lauding the move as cost-efficient.

"We have identified ... many hundreds of millions of dollars of cost-saving opportunities ... as we launch this partnership going forward," Buchanan said.

Jetstar, a subsidiary of Australian flag carrier Qantas, will, in cooperation with Malaysia's AirAsia, jointly investigate procuring new aircraft and cooperate on buying engineering and maintenance supplies.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce applauded the agreement as enhancing competitiveness for both sides.

"Jetstar and AirAsia offer unmatched reach in the Asia- Pacific region, with more routes and lower fares than their main competitors, and this new alliance will enable them to maximize that scale," he said.

Jetstar, boasting a fleet of 60 aircraft, is the world's largest long-haul budget carrier, while AirAsia commands a leading edge in the Asian low-cost market.

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Qantas' Jetstar, AirAsia in Non-Equity JV to Cut Costs

Jetstar, the budget airline owned by Australia's Qantas Airways, and Malaysia'sAirAsia will form a non-equity alliance to cut costs, a sign that even budget airlines were feeling the burden of the aviation industry downturn.


Wednesday's joint announcement comes less than a month after Qantas flagged a possible tie-up between the region's two fastest growing no-frills airlines.

"The aviation market in Asia is a growth market, and has proven resilient over the past 12 months, despite the tough operating environment, with significant growth in passenger numbers forecast in the region," Qantas Airways Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce said.

Airlines worldwide have been grappling with falling demand, higher funding costs and volatile fuel prices.

AirAsia and Jetstar compete regionally with Tiger Airways, which is 49 percent-owned by Singapore Airlines and which has received a lukewarm response to a planned initial offering of shares.

The alliance between Jetstar and AirAsia will explore opportunities in areas including joint procurement of aircraft and pooling of inventories, the statement added.

AirAsia, the region's biggest low-cost carrier, and Jetstar have grown rapidly and now fly routes across Southeast Asia and Australia.

"With joint purchasing power it means that we can potentially work with airline manufacturers on the right configuration and design of an aircraft specifically for AirAsia and that best suits our operational needs for the future," Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes said.

The Jetstar Group currently operates a total fleet of 60 aircraft comprising 48 A320 family aircraft, and has future orders and purchase rights for about 100 new aircraft.

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Air Asia and Jetstar to Expand in Asia Pacific

Both AirAsia X and Jetstar airlines have released plans to expand services in the Asia Pacific region.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation reported that AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani announced earlier in the month that the airline aims to triple its fleet to 35 in the next 6 years. Meanwhile, Jetstar stated it would be expanding from 70 aircraft to 120 over the next 5 years.

AirAsia X is focusing on its long haul expansion, including new routes already established for routes from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch, Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur to Seoul and Kuala Lumpur to Paris.

Jetstar Group chief executive Bruce Buchanan said their airline is "looking at regional growth opportunities and new services from our growing networks from bases in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam" before entering the US and European markets.

Recently, Jetstar started a daily Melbourne to Auckland service, a twice weekly service between Melbourne and Queenstown, daily flights to Melbourne and Singapore and flights between the Gold Coast and Queenstown.

The news source added that the airlines are at risk of struggling to maintain their low and competitive fares if they expanded long haul operations into Europe and North America.

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Jetstar revises routes between Darwin and Asia

Budget airline Jetstar has announced revisions to its flights from Darwin to Asia.

The airline will terminate its four-times weekly services from Darwin to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. However, Jetstar will add new services to Tokyo, Manila, and Singapore. From March 25, 2012, a new four-times weekly service will fly from Darwin into Manila and onto Tokyo. The current Darwin-to-Singapore route will grow from seven to 10 flights each week.

Jetstar chief executive for Australia and New Zealand, David Hall, said the flight changes would further cement the Northern Territory as the gateway into Singapore.

Mr Hall said the new services into Japan would also provide huge economic benefits to the territory. “We are always looking at opportunities to expand services through Darwin Airport,” Mr Hall said.

Introductory fares start from AUD $199 one-way from Darwin to Japan and are available via the Jetstar website.

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