April 9, 2013, 12:18 PM

B&H Photo sharpens its focus on b2b sales

Online b2b sales have surged since joining the
Ariba Discovery portal.

Lead Photo

When e-retailer B&H Photo, Video and Pro Audio decided to focus on selling to other businesses a few years ago, the retailer asked some of its customers for advice on how to grow its b2b sales. Taking their advice, B&H started contacting buyers though an online b2b network and within the past two years has grown online b2b sales by more than 100%, says Barry Eisenberg, manager of business development, contracts and procurement.

B&H, No. 165 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, still does most of its sales to consumers, topping $100 million in 2011. It sells some 300,000 consumer electronics products, ranging from professional-grade cameras and audio equipment to personal computers, studio lighting equipment and binoculars.

But after setting up a profile on Ariba Discovery in the second half of 2011, B&H quickly added “hundreds of thousands” in new b2b sales by lining up interested buyers, Eisenberg says. He declines to specify B&H’s total b2b sales. Ariba Discovery is a business-matching service delivered on the Ariba Network, a b2b trading network used by nearly 1 million buyers and sellers to connect and collaborate.

In the past B&H had prospected for b2b customers mostly through mailing or e-mailing thousands of pitches to potential buyers on industry lists. But it would take hours of staff time to sift through replies to find and match buyers with the right products.

Today a dedicated staff spends about 20 minutes each day viewing up to about 10 customer leads in Ariba Discovery, where potential customers can view B&H’s profile with its full product catalog. B&H staff can respond within minutes through the portal to prospects requesting more information, Eisenberg says.

Although 10 prospects a day might not sound like a lot, in the b2b world it can quickly add up to a large new source of sales from steady repeat customers dealing in high volumes, he says. For example, B&H has set up through Ariba some 150 electronic product catalogs, or personalized sections of its e-commerce site for individual customers. Called “PunchOut catalogs” for their ability to provide product and pricing information updated hourly for individual customers, the electronic catalogs have replaced spreadsheets that B&H updated every few weeks or months and resend separately to individual customers.

B&H pays Ariba a flat annual fee of close to $400, plus per-transaction fees that run about 1% of less of transaction value, Eisenberg says.

Buyers can access the Ariba Discovery portal and complete transactions for no cost, according to Rachel Spasser, senior vice president of marketing for Ariba. She adds that 92% of sellers also pay no transaction fees.

Ariba says Ariba Discovery has processed more than 13 million matches between buyers and sellers within the past year.

Ariba was acquired last year by SAP AG, the provider of business software ranging from e-commerce sites and customer relationship management systems to inventory management and financial accounting software.

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