B2B internationalisation: How to reach international B2B buyers with eCommerce

Guest Blog Exclusive!

Our friends at Sparklayer have dropped an excellent blog we think you ought to read! As B2B eCom specialists, they look at how to reach an international audience with your B2B product:

 

At SparkLayer, we’re seeing more and more B2B businesses make the move to international selling. With the digitalisation of wholesale comes an increasingly accessible gateway into cross-border selling, and it’s an exciting shift in the industry. Internationalisation can feel overwhelming at first but, once you’re up and running, the benefits are quick to roll in and make it all worth it! 

 

Most of our B2B merchants come to us with similar obstacles during this journey – we’re delving into each of them to make the journey to internationalisation as frictionless and fruitful as possible…   

 

When it comes to selling B2B internationally, many wholesale merchants experience challenges around multi-currency options – whether that’s having different price lists for each region or invoicing at an agreed exchange rate or in a specific currency. Cross-border selling can also impact product configurations, with varying pack sizes, quantity values (like minimum order levels), and pallet-only runs. 

 

Address management can also be tricky to manage – billing addresses often vary from delivery/ shipping addresses. Geography also plays a role in managing SKUs and shipping rates, as these tend to vary across regions. Collection options can pose an additional layer of complexity when running alongside a range of delivery options, too. 

 

These considerations can be addressed through B2B eCommerce platforms (including SparkLayer!), with tech integrations maximising the optimisation of existing B2B stores. 

So – how do you actually sell internationally from your existing site?

Direct to B2B customers

One of the most popular routes to market is selling directly to your B2B customers. This provides a high level of control and visibility and allows you to own your relationships with customers – from evolving your customer journey and loyalty programmes to gaining invaluable, real-time feedback. 

 

There is additional time and resources required when handling the complexities of B2B selling, like managing shipping and compliance, but you’ll also benefit from improved margins as less of the process is being outsourced.

 

If you want to pursue this option and don’t currently have B2B selling functionality on your website, platforms like SparkLayer can seamlessly overlay your existing site to add wholesale features. 

 

You’ll need to set up multiple currencies and languages using native eCommerce platform functionality and create country-specific price lists for your B2B customers. Don’t forget to check that your shipping providers can ship internationally! We’d also suggest considering 3PL and warehousing opportunities in your chosen regions as a future or contingency plan.

Work with distributors

Selling to your end customers via distributors is also a fantastic way to start selling B2B internationally. This enables you to tap into each of your distributors’  established customer bases and will immediately help you overcome any language barriers. 

 

This might be tricky at first and can take away from your profit margin. It can be challenging to find a distributor who specialises in your offering rather than one who sells products for a lot of mixed-industry B2B merchants. You’ll also need to navigate product compliance in new territories yourself as this is not a service all distributors will offer! 

 

That being said, this is still a strong option for many wholesalers – you’ll have fewer relationships to manage and can optimise your operational efficiency by having fewer points of contact. Managing everything from one place allows for greater standardisation of processes while still targeting your product marketing to each locale.

 

To get up and running with this approach, we’d recommend following the same steps as above to get your B2B selling platform optimised. You will still need to manage different price lists for each of your distributors based on the products they’re selling and the regions they’re selling into. As with our first route-to-market suggestion, you’ll need to be conscious of shipping internationally and using a platform to manage multiple currencies. 

In-region Sales Reps

This is the last of the big 3 routes to market we’d suggest for B2B businesses launching international sales. 

 

As the name suggests, this method involves selling through Sales Reps or teams based in specific regions. This quickly helps you overcome any language barriers or selling/ cultural nuances that need to be navigated. Having people ‘on the ground’ in each selling location also means you can provide enhanced customer service and gather real-time feedback from customers. Your Sales Reps directly own their customer relationships and streamline the sales process for you. You’ll still be fulfilling orders directly to stores, but your reps can support you in managing those relationships. While there is still a cost associated with this route to market, many of our B2B merchants have seen brilliant long-term success in regions where they have a Sales team established. 

 

So – what steps are involved in setting up this approach? First things first, hire a Sales Rep or team! You can do this in-house or outsource this via an agency. You can hire people directly in your target regions or initially hire people in the country your business is set up in that specialise in recruiting B2B customers from specific countries. 

Get started today!

B2B eCommerce is an ever-evolving part of the wider commerce ecosystem and is a great expansion opportunity for many businesses. For offline B2B brands, self-service ordering is borderline impossible due to the level of manual processes involved, and there are many complex workflows and resources required. This comes at a cost, leaves more room for human error, and can make maintaining a D2C element challenging.

 

Transitioning to eCommerce is a lot easier than most people initially think – and now’s the perfect time to make the move! Whether you’re new to B2B, new to eCommerce, or have no experience of either, we truly believe there is an opportunity for you to start selling wholesale internationally. The first step? Getting in touch! We’d love to hear from you and see how we can support your growth plans, whatever size or stage you’re at…

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