How to Manage B2B Fulfillment Today

How to Manage B2B Fulfillment in Today’s Logistics Environment

By Chris Crutchley on November 8, 2022
B2B fulfillment matters more than ever. Here's how you can get it right today.

Much like business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, business-to-business (B2B) online selling has seen considerable growth as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic restrictions pushed many in the traditionally low-tech B2B segment online. Now, even with in-person business transactions once again possible, it's easy to see why the B2B segment is not showing any signs of slowing down on the movement towards e-commerce: Online sales are the largest driver of revenue for the B2B industry.

Of course, the positive changes also bring new challenges, including:

  • Poor online platforms are no longer sufficient for rising customer expectations.
  • Smaller B2B companies have to compete with well-established online B2B wholesalers like Amazon.
  • New capabilities are needed to manage logistics in the changing environment

As a B2B company, the industry is currently filled with opportunities, but you need to ensure that you’re adapting to keep up with changing customer expectations. 

Whether you’re a B2C seller looking to break into the B2B market, or an already established B2B company, ensuring the strength of your e-commerce fulfillment operation is crucial for success. 

Read About: CBIP's Adaptable 4PL Logistics Services

How B2B fulfillment needs differ from B2C needs — and why it matters

Besides just the volume of shipments, there are tons of differences between B2B and B2C selling — and that means fulfillment will look quite different.

Shipping Method

When it comes to fulfillment, for B2C sales, companies need to use a courier like ups, FedEx, or the local postal system to get the parcel from point a to point b. As every e-commerce B2C company knows, prices for fulfillment add up fast. 

Instead of using a courier, B2B sellers tend to ship items in pallets by freight. Usually, freight companies use what is called the LTL (less than truckload) method. This refers to the way that the truck freight company quantifies your shipment. The trucking company charges you for shipping based on how much room your product takes up in one of their trucks, how heavy the product is, how far you need it shipped, and more.

Cost & Shipping Time

Overall, B2B order fulfillment costs more and takes longer than B2C fulfillment. Since large quantities of goods typically need to be stored in a large, remote warehouse, B2B sellers need to transport large amounts over long distances. 

B2C fulfillment deals with comparatively small items, so they can be shipped much faster. There is another variable, though: customers now often pay for expedited shipping, so the imperative on speed is even greater. 

Altogether, if you are considering the cost of shipping per unit, B2C is typically more costly. Individual products have to be packaged and sent to countless unique addresses, making the fulfillment process rife with opportunities for errors.

Requirements

One thing B2B sellers have to deal with that B2C does not is complex shipping requirements from big-box retailers. These retailers have detailed specifications about how the product is packaged, labeled, palletized, and shipped. If your products don’t meet these stipulations, they won’t be processed  at the fulfillment warehouse

With B2C sales, the customer doesn’t have quite as much leverage to be picky. Your chosen courier drops the parcel at their front door, and the customer retrieves the package.

How can I ensure successful fulfillment for my B2B business?

As a result of the pandemic, most B2B sellers operate online. As of December 2021, around three-quarters of sellers have their own e-marketplaces

While the recent movement online gives you the opportunity to attract customers and interact with buyers, there are also heightened customer expectations you need to be aware of. The demand for fast, seamless shipping encompasses individuals waiting on parcels and businesses waiting on bulk orders alike.

So what does it take to ensure your B2B fulfillment is up to the task? See our strategies for success below.

Implement a user-friendly e-commerce platform

One of the biggest things you can do to remain competitive is to make sure your website is user-friendly and attractive to new customers.

Gone are the days of cutting deals on the phone and meeting with suppliers. Buyers today demand a self-service model that provides helpful suggestions and simplifies their shopping experience; data shows that as many as 50% of customers consider personalization to be a key factor in improving B2B platforms. 

We recommend focusing on building a platform that is

Prioritize relationships and transparency

Even though the days of over-the-phone deals are gone, it's still important to establish a positive relationship with your buyers and suppliers.

In the e-commerce era,  your reputation matters more than ever. Establishing yourself as a trustworthy, timely partner can differentiate your business, particularly in a market saturated with similar products from household names like Amazon and Alibaba. Cultivating strong relationships with customers pays dividends — especially when you understand the power of a few good (or bad) online reviews.

Choose the right partner

As a B2B company, your fulfillment needs will likely outpace the capabilities of the average 3rd-party provider. Depending on the size of your orders, you might need separate fulfillment centers, and you may need to follow strict rules for labeling, coding, and invoicing per the requirements of your buyer — most 3PL providers cannot handle those elements.

It can be a challenge to find a logistics partner that can manage that level of business for you.

If you have the luxury of a large in-house team that takes care of all the details and manages your B2B supply chain, the process is far simpler. However, if you run a leaner operation and need help with logistics, consider teaming up with a fourth-party logistics provider — specialists in managing and streamlining B2B fulfillment.

RELATED: How Automation is Bringing Warehouses into the Future

Work with a 4PL who knows what it takes to get B2B fulfillment right

At CBIP, we understand how important fulfillment is to your B2B business. 

From upstarts to brands with global reach, we've worked with companies of all sizes to get every last detail of fulfillment right. We also help you adapt in real time and provide options that keep your supply chain resilient in the face of a constantly-shifting market.

With customer expectations rising, you can’t risk having a sub-par customer experience. CBIP can help you build a fully integrated system, linking your warehouse to each part of your supply chain with systems backed up by the latest in shipment tracking and warehouse management technology.

Talk to one of our experts today and find out how you can optimize your B2B fulfillment.

About Author

Chris Crutchley

Chris Crutchley is CBIP’s director of operations and finance. He has over a decade of corporate finance and operational expertise throughout the Asia Pacific.

In logistics, Chris strives to continuously innovate and challenge the industry’s norms in order to offer clients world-class service that emphasizes clear communication.

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FAQs

Every e-commerce brand or seller is a little different. So, the best way for us to provide you with a detailed quote is to fill out our online questionnaire here and from here we can walk you through the various options available to you with CBIP Logistics.

No, we do not charge the higher fee associated with long-term storage. No matter how long the goods remain in our warehouse. They are charged the same rate for inventory storage.

Yes! We can store your inventory and replenish Amazon as necessary, helping you adhere to Amazon’s strict rules and regulations for packaging, labeling and shipping.

We charge for storage by either cubic meter, sqft or per pallet / racking space per week. It depends on the request from the customer as one-size doesn’t fit all. It would be better if you schedule a call with us

We provide a variety of services in the logistics landscape which includes Ocean Freight, Airfreight, Domestic Delivery, Warehouse & Distribution and Customs Clearance & Brokerage.

We offer several types of warehouses that are tailored to your requirements and vary among countries, e.g. Bonded Warehouse, General Warehouse, Consolidated Warehouse and Distribution Center.

Yes, you can track it from our platform by using the “Log In” function and access to “B2B” which is dedicated to track any shipment you have with us. This is a real-time platform which integrates with some major carriers so from here you can get the visibility of vessels on the globe map.

  • Origin Management: digital PO management and connected suppliers supported by agnostic 3PL vendor management capabilities.

  • Shipment Tracker: real time tracking also vessel tracking to let you know where the goods are.

  • Destination Management: platform manage the delivery to Distribution Centre and update frequently on platform.

  • Paperless Handling: we centralize the document hub on the platform for shipment-by-shipment. From here you can get the full documentation of a particular shipment within a click.

We offer the consulting services to enterprises who looking for either:

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  • Scale their B2C or B2B business

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Every business, we have a dedicated Account Manager who is the focal contact point that you can get in touch for daily operation.

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