coworkers in a business meeting
While B2C gets a lot of attention, Merchology points out that B2B is a large and growing e-commerce base. — Getty Images/g-stockstudio

The founders of Merchology, a B2B corporate products company that is reinventing the promotional products industry, know that much of their success is built on strong relationships with both customers and vendors.

Ally (Ward) Delgado, Chief Marketing Officer at Merchology, points out that B2B e-commerce, in particular, is a huge and growing industry that gets far less attention than it deserves.

“B2C e-commerce gets all of the media attention and venture capital funding, but B2B e-commerce is two times the size of B2C e-commerce, surpassing $1 trillion in sales in the U.S. in 2018, and is also growing at two times the rate,” she told CO—.

And, even though more than 75% of B2B buyers say that buying from a website is more convenient, B2B suppliers, in general, have been slow to adopt e-commerce practices. In fact, Forrester estimates that e-commerce represents just 12% of total B2B purchases in the United States.

[Check out our full profile of Merchology and learn how they have disrupted the promotional products industry.]

B2C e-commerce gets all of the media attention and venture capital funding, but B2B e-commerce is two times the size of B2C e-commerce.

Ally (Ward) Delgado, Chief Marketing Officer, Merchology

Merchology is tapping into the B2B buyer’s desire to shop online. But convenience alone does not build B2B relationships. Merchology knows that understanding your customers’ needs and challenges is more important than ever. Here are Merchology’s tips for how to build strong B2B relationships with your customers and suppliers.

  1. Solve a problem for them better than anyone else. Find an unmet need your customers have that you can solve better than anyone else, and execute! Ideas come easy; execution is hard. Seek out unmet needs of your suppliers as well (such as how to serve an untapped market), and they will help you succeed.
  2. Don’t focus on price. Price is rarely the ultimate deciding factor for who people choose to do business with in the B2B world. Focus on solving problems and exceeding expectations, and businesses will gladly pay more.
  3. Protect their brand and data as fiercely as you’d protect your own. Respect the distribution, pricing, and marketing wishes of your suppliers, and don’t abuse your access to your customers’ information.
  4. Understand that you are not their #1 priority. People are busy, so stick to simple, straightforward communication. Make it easy for them to give approval or move forward. Don’t bury your message or they won’t read it.
  5. Relationships are a marathon, not a sprint. Build your relationships over time. Prove you do the little things right before you ask for bigger things. Many more opportunities will follow if you can earn their trust.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published April 11, 2019