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3 Obstacles You Face When Starting an Online B2B Business

Sebastian Schieke
10 May 2019

Don't rock the boat!

This phrase can be easily applied to describe the way many old school managers often think. They have their common procedures, which work well and bring results, and they are completely familiar with every single step. In this context – why would they want to take part in implementing new technology innovations, especially when those might make them feel like they're losing control?

Digitalization is running fast. A survey conducted by Accenture Interactive states that by the year 2020 revenues from B2B digital commerce will almost double and will then make up half of all B2B revenues. Offering traditional industries to sell on B2B online platform bears tricky questions that have to be considered. You can read more about that in one of our other blog posts about B2B marketing strategy.

How do you turn distrust of the industry towards technology innovations into your advantage, especially when you face older management boards– how do you then start an online B2B business?

Get ready to face and turn around these three basic types of distrust:

1. Distrust of the concept behind starting an online B2B business

Specifically, we are addressing industries which are focused on a traditional way of doing business. Since they have their determined procedures, they will consider it very difficult, if not impossible, to include an online platform as one of their sales channels. This problem might first appear when new procedures are being implemented into already established ones. Another issue could include publishing necessary information about products hosted on the platform – these informations are then available worldwide.

This last characteristic is a crucial point to be named as one of the greatest benefits of starting an online B2B business – it enables companies to reach customers globally, resulting in an increase in business and exposure to the global market.

According to Experian (a leading global information services company), online platforms help SMEs to get the same exposure to potential customers as the larger companies, thus leveraging the competitive playing field for all participants.

Or in other words, as Richard French, Legal Director at Digital Catapult, a British organization that works with SMEs, points out – online platforms provide “low-cost access to big supply chains.”

2. Distrust of the people involved into starting an online B2B business

The second obstacle on your way to successful deals, is a belief that young entrepreneurs cannot understand the principles on which traditionally established industries operate. And if you don't understand them, how can you devise a solution which will improve the procurement practices?

In this context convincing a company in a traditional industry to alter the procurement procedures can be a daunting task.

Positive internal engagement across different departments and personnel ranks, is the first step towards a successful implementation of a B2B online platform as a new sales channel. You can do little about that yourself, but it is important to highlight the vast number of advantages from which everybody in the company will benefit – from sales to procurement and to the finance department.

Among many benefits provided by an online platform, you can help with your knowledge and understanding of the technology in overcoming confidence problems when shopping on the internet. You can accentuate contribution towards reduction of transaction costs, as well as facilitating the cross-border transactions.

3. The most challenging obstacle – distrust of start-up companies in general

Distrust of startup companies can be irrational or unfounded, but it is generally present.

There is no unambiguous answer for this type of distrust. But in order to survive, startups have to give more and try harder. In this context, you can devise the strategy specific to your potential customer, to show them how they will benefit from starting their online business with you.

The benefits of doing business with a startup go beyond the online B2B platforms. In general, compared to the big businesses, as a startup you can offer agility, less bureaucracy, competitive terms of business and last but not least –personality.

Although these benefits are obvious to you, they won't be obvious to the established industry. So turn them into your advantage by putting them on the table when offering the company to sell on your B2B online platform.

Bottom Line

In the end our advice is clear: Rock the boat! Digitalization is unstoppable and ongoing however, it brings many advantages with online business possibilities. Implementing new technologies and using innovations might feel like losing control in the beginning, whereas it might help with creation of leveraging effects and a successful future in B2B business. Of course every change needs to have a clear strategy to be followed. Find out more about how to create your own B2B marketing strategy to ensure that you make the most of your efforts.


Share with us your experience – have you faced some or all of these distrust types while promoting your new online platform? 

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