Selling has become the new normal: from technology to home refurbishment, from apparel to groceries, consumers are getting used to a new kind of digital shopping.
There is no reason why selling online B2B should not follow the same path. With travel restricted and trade fairs postponed or cancelled, industrial firms have found new channels to source products or find distributors.
The most common tool is the online B2B marketplace, such as Alibaba or Global Sources. These are online platforms where businesses can order in bulk what they are looking for. They do not need to interact too much with the counterparty, as the marketplace operates as a sort of B2B wholesaler, providing prices and terms of the deal (Incoterms) already in the offer.
Another kind of B2B online trading platform is the B2B matchmaking website. Examples are Globartis and EEN. These are B2B portals where companies find business partners for the long term. Instead of buying a single item, companies engage to establish long-term partnerships, such a distribution, commercial agency, or manufacturing agreements.
Both types of platforms accomplish that you can order your new machinery from China, or find a distribution partner in Brazil, without leaving your office.
There is one caveat though: in order for this process to work smoothly, both parties need to trust each other. While B2B websites strive to implement a screening process to select only the firms that look reliable, companies should always do their own due diligence.
As such, if you are a supplier and want to use these online channels to sell your products abroad, the best thing you can do is to obtain an internationally recognized certification.
Here are the 3 most important online B2B certifications you should consider.
This is the original certification for quality management. Although it is still one of the most used certifications in the world, its use has been scaled down because the process for obtaining it is tyring. Yet, if you really strive for quality, that is the certification that you should aim at.
ISO 9001 has a comprehensive approach to the overall quality of the internal processes of a business. This means that ISO 9001 does not certify your products, but the system that lies behind them. Is it not only production: how a business relates with its clients and suppliers is one of the key points of this certification.
Overall, this is the main and most comprehensive certification for quality management systems.
This certification certifies that a business respects the environment. Its implementation has become more and more requested as the world has finally recognized that a global, modern economy cannot be sustained if we do not pay attention to how we deal with the planet.
This is not a certification for quality itself, but can add tremendous advantage from a reputational perspective, as your buyer may not want to deal with businesses that carry out irresponsible industrial operations.
Moreover, many medium to large companies may not want to engage with suppliers that do not have this certification because of the fear of reputational damage for themselves.
This certification substitutes OHSAS 18001 and certifies that the company adopts proper practices for the safety of its workers.
We all remember the horrors of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh when a textile factory collapsed, and hundreds of works died. Perhaps that is an extreme case, but it is not seldom that contractors and suppliers from developing countries experience accidents that involve the health of their workers. For many buyers, this is reputational damage that cannot be born.
Having the ISO 45001 certification will relieve them from this concern, and they will be much more inclined to do business with you.
Moreover, healthy and safe workers also mean more productive workers. Implementing this certification will also provide a benefit to the overall quality of your business beyond the reputational benefit.
Internally recognized certifications can help your company find business partners more easily, especially if you are planning to export to far away countries where your brand is not yet well-known. However, it is important that you obtain the certification not only for the paper but also because you really want to improve the overall quality of your business. Marketing is useful but, at the end of the day, it is quality that sells.