E-Commerce Evolution in B2B | The Growth Genius

Rubi Gupta is the CMO of Industrybuying.com in Gurugram, India, with expertise in SEM and data analysis. She holds a degree from Bharati Vidyapeeth and has a reputation for innovative and creative problem-solving. Rubi is highly regarded for her teamwork and has been praised by colleagues for her professionalism. In

E-Commerce Evolution in B2B | The Growth Genius

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    Rubi Gupta, CMO of IndustryBuying, discusses the transformative potential of e-commerce in the B2B sector. With a focus on product assortment, she highlights the challenge of low-frequency purchases and the importance of having access to a wide range of products. Rubi shares insights from her diverse career, emphasizing the evolving role of a CMO in managing brand experience and driving revenue growth. She notes the difficulties of shifting traditional mindsets towards online purchasing, especially among older generations. Despite these challenges, she believes IndustryBuying’s strong product portfolio and reliable service position it well to lead the B2B e-commerce transformation in India, leveraging lessons from her experiences in various industries.

    Key Take Aways

    1. Importance of Product Assortment: A wide and diverse product range is crucial in B2B e-commerce due to the varied and infrequent purchasing needs of industrial customers.
    2. Digital Transformation: The role of digital marketing is pivotal in shifting traditional businesses to adopt online purchasing and e-commerce platforms. 
    3. Customer Experience Management: Ensuring a seamless and positive customer experience from the first interaction with the brand is essential for retention and growth. 
    4. Integration with Tech Teams: Close collaboration with tech and product teams is necessary to align marketing insights with user experience and product development. 
    5. Marketing as Growth Driver: The CMO’s role extends beyond branding to directly influencing the company’s revenue and growth metrics. 
    6. Addressing Traditional Mindsets: Overcoming resistance to change among older business generations requires targeted strategies to demonstrate the benefits of online purchasing. 
    7. Leveraging International Partnerships: Utilizing global partnerships can provide access to a broader product range and better pricing, enhancing competitiveness.
    8. Holistic Business Understanding: A comprehensive understanding of various business functions, including supply chain, operations, and customer service, is vital for effective digital marketing in B2B e-commerce.

    Read Transcript

    Rubi Gupta:-  Marketing should know basic SQL queries because they can do their data Research. Now what can bring to Indian businesses is a platform from where they can buy any product. When they are with an international brand, they do get the product at a very high cost and we can get the same thing at a meager cost and reliable service. Right? So this is the core of the business. 

    Mehul Ashar:- Hello everyone, and welcome to yet another episode of The Growth Genius, the podcast brought to you by Infidigit where we share growth stories in marketing and business. Our today’s growth genius is someone who has been at the cusp of things since the start of her career, be it e-commerce, Edtech, Medtech, and now B2B, online platforms. So without further ado, join me in welcoming the CMO at IndustryBuying, Miss Rubi Gupta. Rubi, welcome to The Growth Genius podcast. Thanks a lot for your time; we are delighted to have you here.

    Rubi:- Thank you. Thank you so much, Mehul. I’m grateful that I am part of this podcast with you today. 

    Mehul:- Pleasure. 

    Rubi:- Thank you for the invitation. 

    Mehul:- So Rubi, I wanted to understand, you know, how do you define your current role at IndustryBuying?

    Rubi:- Great question, but I think it’s very difficult to define the role at this level. So if we go with a designation, it’s a CMO role where the role of a CMO is also changed as we evolve to the digital ecosystem, right? So in the core sense, it is like managing the brand internally, and externally, making sure the customer experience is good, right? But as we are into the digital world, the core is, that I’m also responsible. That is my core. KPI is the growth and revenue of the organization. So, and all other things, which is your brand enhancement, improvement along experience of a customer, NP’s score comes along with it because all of these things are connected, right? So if an organization is growing, if the revenue numbers or the growth is happening, all other layers are interconnected, right? So if I have to define the role, it’s a. Sometimes it feels like this is the organization I’m running because the sense of ownership, at least for me, is very high wherever I worked before as well. So it seems like everything is revolving around you because the first touch point is marketing for any brand to come up with, right? After that, your experience with the product, and your experience with the company are secondary. The delivery of the product is secondary. The first one, when a user interacts with the brand in the digital world is like responsibility of the marketing team, right? So hence this is a very crucial role. Along with this, here at IndustryBuying, I also take care of the overall UI, and UX, of our website or app. And this is because in some sense, in today’s world, product is with marketing, right? So it has to be integrated where, from where the users are coming, what they are doing, the understanding of the Personas of the user very closely. So I work very closely with the tech teams or the product teams to bring it together, the learnings which we get from the marketing insights which we get for marketing and put it in the journeys, right? So that becomes our 2nd, and 3rd layer, and business teams coordinate with them because unlike other companies or other industries where I worked before, I have used the product which I am selling. But at IndustryBuying we sell products which I have never seen, I have never heard like the bearing which is being used in factories, right? So we might have learned about it or read about it in, some books earlier, but not using it as of now. So the understanding of the core product is very less so and where the expertise of the business teams or category teams comes very handy and they understand the product much better. So how do we understand the core issue or a pain point of a customer using that product? How, what are the things he might be looking for when he’s researching the product? So that’s the fourth layer that comes together, which has to come together otherwise they will not work. Right. Along with this, I also work very closely with HR on a few projects to bring up the overall organization’s health. And since we are just growing up the values, the core values of the organization should grow with the team. So that is also one of the additional responsibilities which I am taking care of right now. So in a nutshell, it is like wearing multiple heads at the same time. 

    Mehul:- Very interesting and thanks for sharing that. Rubi, your career has transitioned throughout different industries, right? So can you tell us more about your professional journey? 

    Rubi:- Yes. So here, before I begin my answer, I should say that I have been very grateful for all the opportunities that I got during my career from the beginning till now. So I have been in industries at their very pivotal times from the beginning to now. When digital happened, I just started my career and I was one of the few people who actually in India who got their first certification in Adwords in the top ten. Like I think there were 20 people who we appeared together for the first certification in AdWords at that point of time, right? The first project which I have done is with Expedia UK. Travel was the only industry that was online at that time because that was the easiest. And that too not in India, it was in the UK US, it was happening and we got trained with professionals in the UK, from the UK itself. So this made our basics very clear. Because the foundation for learning anything was very core. We learned it from very experienced people. Everything from beginning to end, like actually creating keywords is something that was art at that point in time Google was not very predictive at that point in time. We have to write the keywords. So from there to my first client-side experience, simply learning is an edtech and edtech was just starting at that point in time. And I was there then moved to Myntra when e-commerce was booming in India. And I moved to Myntra when they were coming back to their from-only app journey. So they are coming back to the web. That was the time I joined them. And Myntra is an organization, which has been very, very crucial for my, for my overall career. So because they have given that kind of opportunity, if anybody wants to learn, they can learn, right? So it is very open in terms of doing experiments and giving suggestions. So. And that was a pivotal time also for e-commerce. Then Spinny happened, and Medlife happened actually first. And medical industry was booming at that point in time. So. And after that, a spinny happened, the used car industry. And this was the time of COVID after people came back from COVID and that was the time actually for used cars because the financial crunch was there and people were okay to actually try out the new used cars. Right. When that. That was the time I was there. Right. And now with IndustryBuying B2C e-commerce in India is cracked. People have that much confidence in buying things online. B2B is still struggling and has lot many challenges. I think in the future in the next two, or three years it will start booming a lot from here. So I should say along with taking risks I have ability to calculate risks I have taken and the universe has been grateful to me for giving me that opportunity at the right time. So my journey has been very interesting till now. If I look back and sit down think it has been very interesting.

    Mehul:- Yeah, I mean you were there at places which, you know, were just at the cusp of, you know, getting into I would say growth mode or a hyper mode, so to say. So be it edtech or you know, be it even e-commerce for that matter, used cars again, you know, is a very novel concept, especially when you look at the e-commerce and used cars put together. So that’s very interesting. Rubi, thanks. Thanks for sharing those milestones of your career with us. Coming to the next question, I want to understand how crucial you consider IndustryBuying’s role within the B2B e-commerce ecosystem and what particular obstacles you foresee. 

    Rubi:- So Mehul, if we put it in the context that this industry is yet to solve, nobody has cracked B2B e-commerce in India yet. And the ingredients that are required to actually make the right recipe to solve this problem or issue or crack the business, or industry itself. I think IndustryBuying has all the right ingredients because the basis of this business is not the supply chain, it’s not the service, it’s not anything else, it’s the core, is the product assortment. Why do I say so? Because in this industry, the frequency of buying the same product is very low. Because every day in your factories, some products will not work and the other ones will be working, right? And every factory or every machine requires a different kind of tools or different kinds of attachments, etc, etc, right? So unlike B2C, where the frequency of buying is higher, the same product, so you buy similar products at multiple frequencies here, that’s not the case. There are few products which are bought every month. But the large assortment is something which is the key Now with IndustryBuying, our partners who are investors also, which are Monotaro Japan and Grainger US, we get access to all kinds of products in the world. So be it any tool, any kit, whatever it is, be it which, whatever brand, international, national, we have access to anything right now national, we have access to anything right now which can bring to Indian businesses is a platform from where they can buy any product. When they actually do a trade with an international brand, they do get the product at a very high cost and we can get the same thing at a very low cost and reliable service. Right? So this is the core of the business. So I think IndustryBuying has the right ingredient. Any other things which are your supply chain, operations, and service levels, are the things that can be controlled by anybody. So these are more process-oriented rather than anything else. Right? So those are the things which could, can be done, right? Marketing is easy to crack, although there are So the actual problem, I should say the blocker is the mindset right now of a user because the generation is a little older, right? The businesses have been running for generations to generations and generations. However, now with startups coming up so hugely in India, we do see many companies coming up every year, new, new setup of manufacturing, new setup of services of suppliers, etc. But there is a huge pool of users who are from the last generation. So it is very difficult for them to change the mindset from changing their offline vendor to the online vendor, right? So that is the only blocker, I should say, something that is a little difficult to actually have the solution for. 

    Mehul:- So it’s like a behavioral change, right? That happened with e-commerce that, you know, the touch and feel requirement, you know, for fashion was suddenly now shifting to an e-commerce platform where you just see the styles from various angles, and then you take your buying decision. 

    Rubi:- So that’s the behavioral change which is very easy to actually get as we move around, right? And with the next generation coming up, I think it’s easier because we do see the adoption of the new organization is easier for us. The older organization is a little difficult to catch hold of because 80%, 90% of procurement happens offline. So they do not come online at all. So that is the only problem I see right now. I don’t see any other issues

    Mehul:- And that’s probably a big opportunity also if you know, you can tap that market. 

    Rubi:- Yes, yes. 

    Mehul:- Great. Nice. Rubi wanted to understand, you know, in your kind of business, how important is the role of influencers, you know, in marketing the product. 

    Rubi:- So influencer is, is important, right? At least in the B2C context, it is very important. They are very important and they have become the marketing. They come into the marketing mix when you do the medium media for any company. But lately, the experience has happened in multiple instances where people have lost their hard-earned money because of influencers in few examples, and as the new generation coming up, I do also see a little more awareness with them taking advice from any influencer and they understand this, this is marketing, right? So however, if I talk about only the context of Industrybuying influencers, it might be an important lover, but this will not be a social influencer because we are not dealing with one on one, we are dealing with an organization. So it has to be a very authority-driven influencer, not a socially driven influencer like, so someone from a great brand or somebody who understands that business very closely, and it will be a very segmented approach because one industry, for, like for we tackle all kind of industry, textile, food, etc., etc. So every industry will have a different set of authorities who can talk about us, right? So overall influencer strategy right now we are not thinking about it, but maybe in the next six months, one year of time, if we want to think about it, it will be a very segmented approach and it will take a lot of time to actually figure out the right influencer for us. 

    Mehul:- That will be very interesting to see in a B2B context. Actually, you know how you get influencers online. 

    Rubi:- Yes, yes. Because I have seen a lot many YouTube influencers in this industry. But, when you listen or hear and see the videos, you do not get any confidence that this will fly, right? So. And they do not go along with the brand as well. So very difficult, right? I have not been able to find the right influencer till now. 

    Mehul:- Got it. So where do you see organic search in the journey of building and growing a B2B online platform? 

    Rubi:- Organic. Organic is something which is like. So in our context at least on IndustryBuying. Mehul, search is something where the journey begins. Whenever we have asked, or have done interviews with customers, the basic thing when they come online is the time when they are not finding the product with their existing vendor. They come online, they search it on Google. Right? And that’s where the journey begins, right? And if I put it in an organic sense then it’s a cherry on the cake because it’s come free of cost. So. As I mentioned we have around 20 lakh products that are live on the website which makes like a huge opportunity for traffic that can come to us free of cost from Google or actually we have a good percentage of traffic from Bing. Also, opportunity is very huge in organic for us and there is not much competition also there’s not much competition as well. So I should say if we solve them, there are certain issues on our side mostly on the website or certain things which we are working upon. If we solve those things we should be able to save a lot of money spent on Google paid marketing which can be used in other media because there are searches for which even if there’s nobody, there is no competition at all. So I see a huge opportunity for the organic side at IndustryBuying right now. 

    Mehul:- Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. Rubi. I wanted to understand, you know what is your take on AI in marketing? A B2B online platform like IndustryBuying. 

    Rubi:- So AI has been a buzzing word Mehul for the last couple of months I should say now every day there is some article on AI coming up, right? So when I talk about IndustryBuying where we have done a few experiments on ML as well as we are working on a few projects on AI and I think we can treat AI as extended teams, extended arms to us. The biggest project that we are looking forward to and working towards in AI is content enhancement. When Google yesterday sent the core update around content it said that the content has to be useful should not be duplicated and should be real and human content. But still, I think if done correctly with humans we should be able to scale up our content because as I said for 20 lakh products writing content from humans will take years actually. Right? So if we work together with AI and if we set the right process and right checkpoints and do the project I think we are able to do the project faster and that should, that’s the way we are thinking to actually leverage AI in right now. The second will be doing a similar thing for the image as well. So this is the first project we are starting. And whatever small experiments we have done till now, they have given good results. So I think we can actually take up it. 

    Mehul:- I mean, the gist of the matter is that you know, AI per se is going to be an enabler to enhance business practices rather than being something that is actually going to take away jobs. 

    Rubi:- No, no, no, they will not take away jobs. I never, I don’t think. But, every person has to step up and do things that are not copy-paste, right? So that copy-pasting jobs will go away. So everybody has to think and learn and that’s, that’s the actually work everybody should be doing. Humans should not be working on things which is, which can be duplicated. 

    Mehul:- Right. And Rubi, coming to the next question, as digital marketing evolves, what emerging trends do you anticipate shaping the future and how is your brand actively adapting to stay ahead of the curve? 

    Rubi:- So I would actually put this with the behavioral change as the Gen Zs are coming up and millennials are going away, but I don’t know how many, what kind of generations are coming up now. So the behavior has changed, is changing every day, like, because the way we were, they are not like that. They are very, they are very experimental. They don’t have any brand loyalty because they, it’s not about them, but it is like they, they are open to experiment, right? They are very doing things, taking risks with everything, right? Every now and then, very aware, not like, unlike us. Right. So at least I should talk about myself. So I am not, might not be as aware as my son is, right? So though. And they do a lot of research, right? Because that came in handy with them as they grew. Right. I started searching when I was in 12th standard or 11th or in college itself, right, but they have been doing it from the beginning, right? So, another thing is the patience is very less, also the focus. Right. Is also very less with this generation, right? So since so many things, the behavior itself is changing. I think the overall digital ecosystem will change a lot around it because as you see the brands, which are the legacy brands, like, are losing their market share because the new generation is actually adopting newer products, newer brands, right? There are people who are shifting maybe from Colgate to a very newer brand of toothpaste, right? And like at our house also, we buy multiple brands and, just to try and it’s not about whether it will be bad or good, but at least my parents will not buy any other brand. They will not. So now since we are doing it, I will see the next generation will do it more often. Like the new brand, you should try, etc. So it brings up a lot of competition and consumer brand has to be on, on their toes to actually meet the expectations. Right. So digital will evolve around it. And as we see the marketing spending will increase humongous on digital and will be shifting to digital because the legacy brand is also adapting to digital because that’s the only touch point they see with millennials. Right. So many things are happening in VR AR and what kinds of R’s are coming into the world? So the experience itself is just changing. So and with also technology is evolving, and data security is coming up to a large extent. The cookie-less world is about to come. So multiple challenges, but good challenges and healthy competition, right? Everybody has a chance to show up because people are okay to actually test out. So I think that will change a lot, many things in digital. And I would say for IndustryBuying, it will be a blessing because people are okay to test, right? And, as I mentioned in my earlier conversation, if somebody is open to trying online, they will not find the product anywhere else other than industry wine. So I think it will be a blessing for us as we sing and the next generation grows up in the store. 

    Mehul:- Brave new world and exciting times ahead, I guess. 

    Rubi:- Yes. 

    Mehul:- Right. So we are now in the last segment of the podcast, Rubi, and wanted to request you to share any specific growth stories from your professional journey, because it has been very interesting and I would like to know one or two such growth stories which come on top of your mind right now. 

    Rubi:- Yes. So there have been multiple stories from start to end. I actually document them, a few of them, for my reference to maybe read, 

    Mehul:-oh, interesting 

    Rubi:- older times. Right. So I will talk about two of them. One is with Medlife and another is with Spinny. So when I joined Medlife, because I joined Medlife after Myntra, so I had a lot of experience with the app ecosystem. And when I joined Medlife, the app was very small. The app portion of revenue was very small. We were doing around 15 20% of revenue on App and the rest is on the web. And that was very difficult for me to digest because I have seen the segment who is buying online in Myntra. So. And they were off like 80% of our revenue in Myntra. So it was very difficult to digest why it is so small and the app brings up a lot, many goodness along with experience it also brings up savings in marketing, etc. Because once you have an app, you can reach out to customers notifications and the experience itself becomes very smooth, right? And with a brand like Medlife, which sells medicines, I was not able to digest this problem. Why it is so small, right? So answers that I got from my colleagues are mostly that old age people do not like to app, like use apps. That was the hindrance which we were looking around. But then we set up some interviews, we did some surveys. It was not the same. It was not the same. Actually we have seen that for the older age, if you tell them you have to do this, just press this, they are actually okay to do it. Because everybody is. They’re using Facebook, they’re using Instagram, they’re using WhatsApp, right? So for them, when we interviewed, they told us that, yes, it is very simple. If you tell me in the app, to open this and order medicine, it is very simple for me, right? So this was the insight. Then we started scaling up the app and did one experiment for two months to change the marketing spending towards the app and lower down on the web. We saw good results. We saw very good results. And then we actually updated our app to react native, which made it actually interesting, because earlier the technology was not very great. So we changed the app to react native. And when I left our marketing, our overall share on the app was 62%, right? So from 15, around 60, 65%. It was a great success. Right? So. And many things like, because these people are old people, they just say that order online and upload the prescription. That’s the thing they have to learn. That’s it. We see very good repeat rates on apps compared to the web. Because finding a website, they go to other websites. Ten more websites will open. So this was a great learning adoption of that generation on the app. So this is a great story that was driven at least because experience has taught us and was able to do something there. So this is one instance of a story. Second, I will talk about UI UX because that might relate to the audiences as well. Because that’s the crux of improvement of any growth team, actually, because traffic, you can bring in paid traffic, it will come. But how to improve the experience to increase the conversion rate? That is something which. Which is difficult. It’s exciting also it gives a lot many understanding of psychology. So you learn a lot of psychology in marketing. I have never read psychology, but when you work around multiple aspects here, you learn a lot about the psychology of a human. So this is an experiment or a project. I should say in Spinny. So at Spinny, the problem is not selling the cars. Actually getting the cars to sell is a problem because that’s the market. The supply chain is very small and has a lot many competition in the market, right? So you can, and selling a car is easier and was there in the market for a longer time, but people were not buying the car online because of the trust issues, right? So when somebody sells a car, the journey starts by filling a lead. You fill a lead on, on the website and that’s how it started. So we used to have a form where every person had to fill in the car, make, model registration date, etc. Etc. Multiple form fields. I think there were nine, nine fields that we used to take and we cannot do away with any field because those are the fields that are important for businesses to give any estimation of the price of the car. So that is also very important because without that we cannot move ahead and we cannot inspect all the cars because it’s a problem. So much bandwidth is required then. So now how to increase the conversion rate of the handful of users who are coming on the website so that we get more leads? That is the task at hand. So we have done multiple experiments. So the first one is like initially, we were showing all the fields at the same time. Like a user will see all the fields at the same time that he has to fill so many fields, right? So we experimented with that one by one, every field should come, and the initial only will tell that there are so many fields. But the daunt of so many fields at the first site itself became, was there a problem, right? We are very lazy. People do not want to fill in all this. So that experiment actually worked well after making the journey a little smoother, a little more fun, just to click, etc, rather than dropdowns. That was, that actually has improved. Likewise, there are a few things in. For example, if a user is looking just at the price of the car right now, or he actually wants to sell it right now, because that is also a bigger thing. Because when you buy a car, you actually also check the selling, how much it will be sold off if I sell it in two years or something like that. So people do that as well. So we actually implemented one more field where we started asking whether you want to sell it immediately, in three months, or like that, so that the inspections can be aligned in that sense. So. Multiple UI UX smaller shifts have actually given us a 3x incremental conversion rate from doing such small experiments with colors, with UI UX, how it should come, etc etc. So this was a great story and they are still doing it because I still see there are changes happening on the form every month or two months. They are still doing some experiments. 

    Mehul:- Great. Both are very interesting stories to share. Rubi, thank you so much for that. And lastly, I would like you to share any takeaways for budding professionals, you know before we sign off. 

    Rubi:- So it depends upon anybody, wherever they are in their professional career. But whatever I am seeing right now within my team and the professionals who are just starting their careers, the focus is very less and very fragmented. Want to grow up in all the fields at the same time. So I think marketing and practice are connected now. So anything which is whatever, there are multiple fields within digital, like social, normal performance, then content, then UI, UX, there are multiple things. But whatever a person wants to do as per the interest, right? So it has to be end-to-end, right? So I think in a few years the layer of product manager and marketing manager will go away, right? So the PRDs may be making logic is something that an AI can do. So we choose what to show it will become one on one journeys as we go ahead, right? So the logic should come from an engine, not like just say, okay, if a user does this, then do that, there will be multiple lines, right? So I think the focus is very important for learning it end to end, not halfway through, which I am seeing a lot in this generation, okay, I just learned this much, okay. Now I want to learn another thing. So that is something which is important. And another thing is detail orientation. At least as a company like ours, which is smaller than any startup I should say I have never worked with any bigger organization. I don’t know how they operate but as, as the scale or any like it with Myntra also at that point of time we were pretty good, pretty big, doing around 150 to 200 cr a month. So we were pretty good big at that point in time as well. But I think detail orientation is very important because when we see the data from this, from here, we do not see any insights. It will all look the same, everything is good and everything is fine and there’s nothing. But if we dissect, think over a little more, and come up with cuts which we, hypothetically think might be happening, that makes, that makes the fun, right? So detail orientation I think and focus, I should say the next coming professionals should look forward to. And the third one is learning analytics with basic coding. Because like big query, like analytics team is separate, but marketing should know basic SQL basic query because they can do their own data Research. They should do it because that’s what is required. So I think this is something which everybody should learn when they are growing up in their career as of now. 

    Mehul:- Thank you, Rubi, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. And as I said, we are truly delighted to have you on this podcast. Thank you for sharing all your insights and wish you all the best. 

    Rubi:- Thank you Mehul, thank you so much for having me here today. 

    Mehul:- So ladies and gentlemen, we come to the end of yet another episode of The Growth Genius. Who knew that in today’s age we will also have B2B online platforms at that too for industrial products? And that is what this podcast was all about. Do watch the entire podcast for more insights and actionable points that probably can help you in your business as well. We are available on all online platforms, be it video or audio. The links to all of this are given in the descriptor below. Do like, share, and subscribe to our content till the next episode of The Growth Genius. Keep learning, and keep inspiring. Thank you.

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    Rubi Gupta

    E-Commerce Evolution in B2B | The Growth Genius