What is B2B eCommerce? Think of wholesale merchants selling to dealers, distributors selling to chain retailers, and suppliers selling to schools, governments, or hospitals.
The many benefits of B2B eCommerce platforms
Whoever you’re selling to, your B2B eCommerce solution must help you sell better and in larger quantities. For businesses selling to businesses, there are many things to consider: the stakeholders that manage the decision process, their buying processes and how they prefer to build relationships.
Most popular B2B eCommerce platform features
The best way for ensuring the success of your B2B store is by utilizing a platform that was specifically designed for B2B from the ground up. While you may come across many different B2B eCommerce platform features when looking at B2B eCommerce solutions, here are some of the most useful ones to keep in mind:
Easy search options
A B2B eCommerce should have strong search engine and product filtering options in the admin panel as well as in the storefront. These search engines should be able to find items by SKU part numbers, descriptions, keywords, business preferences, or other criteria.
B2B buyers are used to self-service, and that includes the ability to configure their orders with the right color, size or options according to their needs. For B2B merchants, that means managing a single parent product with multiple variants. This also helps them manage products easier, assign unique pricing tiers, and process bulk orders quicker.
Rich product descriptions
Business buyers have a more technical level of product knowledge and may want product descriptions to reflect that. A good B2B eCommerce platform will give you the option of managing marketing, specification sheets, PDF files, instructions, certifications along with video files. Rich product management empowers content marketing teams for educational materials, bundling and upsells.
Depending on who your business is selling to (think a network of dealers vs. hospitals), you may need to set up separate storefronts, access points with specific purchasing rights or access permissions to certain products for certain user groups. Customer segmentation is also useful for customizable shopping cart experiences, too.
Today’s businesses rely on a number of software to run operations. Real-time ERP, PIM and CRM integration can sync order posting, payment, product and customer data to your eCommerce system. Complete data across your systems makes it easy to offer customers a better experience.
Business sellers need ways to design discounts or manage variations of one discount aimed at individuals, user groups, or businesses. Look for a B2B eCommerce platform that offers you flexible group (as well as individual) pricing models, discounts, and minimum order requirements according to product.
Pricing and quotes
The length and complexity of buying cycles vary from business to business. This is where B2B pricing capabilities such as price rules and price list integration come in. Some businesses may want to negotiate prices on high-ticket items. A B2B eCommerce system with quoting or proposal management functionality allows businesses to submit quotes to the seller, and the seller to respond in turn.
Most businesses run a tight ship and can’t afford needless expenditures. A B2B eCommerce platform should streamline purchasing regardless of where the customer is, or what tax category their business belongs to. This means having a pricing engine that is able to calculate the needed discounts, exemptions and credits on the spot.
Businesses buyers purchase according to their business needs, and your B2B eCommerce platform should have workflows to accommodate every scenario. For example, one business may have a purchasing department that prefers to deal with recurring orders, while other businesses may use their accountant to pay in installments.
All customers, B2B included, prefer to purchase at their leisure, particularly through mobile devices. Today’s B2B eCommerce platforms cannot score poorly on any on those fronts – in fact, moving as many functions as possible (account, quoting, order, shipment, reordering management) on mobile should be a priority for any eCommerce business.
What to look for out of your digital transformation experience
Keeping up with digital experiences customers are expecting out of your store is not easy. Without a digital transformation strategy, an eCommerce solution isn’t tailor made for specific business requirements your B2B store may want to offer its customers. Here’s what to keep in mind as you embark on your digital transformation journey:
Great site experience
Easy, memorable web experiences are everything nowadays – whether on desktop or mobile. Customers expect sites that don’t lag, have quick loading times and offer them the same personalized experiences they have come to expect on sites like Amazon and Ali Baba.
Whether you go with a vendor or build your own B2B eCommerce platform depends on your needs and abilities. For example, building an in-house solution demands resources, technical and project management abilities. Going with a ready-made solution means selecting a B2B eCommerce platform with features that tick your boxes.
A successful digital transformation is all about a smooth implementation of your project – involving setting up an IT team, allocating resources, planning and delivery of your project. This can mean choosing a partner or vendor to help you with consulting, developing, implementing your project or all of the above.
If you choose to work with a vendor to help with your eCommerce project, you should understand the implications of this ongoing relationship. Be prepared to work together on complex iterations and adjustments to address market needs while bringing your eCommerce platform to life.
The B2B eCommerce platform you choose must not only be flexible, scalable and stable enough to accommodate your sales activity. It should above all provide an impeccable user experience to your business customers – as well as remain a central point for acquiring new customers and driving revenue.
Going through the features of B2B eCommerce platform, putting in the time to research and discuss important issues with vendors – choosing the right B2B eCommerce platform is not easy. It takes time to invest and often see results in the form of long-term business growth plans.