The B2B landscape is undergoing a significant shift from traditional offline methods to a more digital realm. The surge in growth has propelled eCommerce technology to the forefront of priorities for B2B businesses.
A recent survey reveals that 35% of B2Bs consider investing in eCommerce platform technology as their top priority over the next 12 months. Additionally, 54% of distributors are concentrating on enhancing user experience and incorporating more B2C features as their primary focus.
B2B, commonly defined as the online sale of goods or services between businesses, has revolutionized the digital retail space by executing transactions electronically. This transformation has notably increased the efficiency and effectiveness of purchasing for various B2B entities, including B2B2C, wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors.
In this evolving landscape, seizing the opportunity to formulate a robust eCommerce plan has never been more opportune. The initial crucial step involves identifying the right eCommerce platform tailored to the specific needs of your B2B company. By doing so, you can ensure that you provide your customers with the optimal tools and experiences necessary for success in the online marketplace.
Considerations for Choosing the Ideal B2B eCommerce Platform
Examining the factors outlined below enables you to evaluate how your selection of a B2B eCommerce platform will influence your company:
Type of B2B Business: Different categories of B2B businesses exhibit distinct requirements. When delving into potential solutions, organizations must initially grasp the nuances that set them apart:
- B2B2C (Business-to-Business-to-Consumer): B2B2C eCommerce eliminates intermediaries, typically positioned between the B2B organization and the end consumer. This model establishes direct communication between businesses and consumers.
- Wholesale: Wholesale eCommerce operates on a B2B model, wherein products are sold in bulk and at discounted rates to other businesses, rather than being sold individually to consumers.
- Manufacturers: Manufacturers produce goods on a large scale, utilizing raw materials and components alongside manual labor and machinery. In a B2B framework, the finished products are distributed to other manufacturers, suppliers, or wholesalers.
- Distributors: Distributors collaborate closely with manufacturers to enhance the visibility of the produced goods, boost sales, and facilitate the movement of products through the distribution channel.
Securing Sales Team Support and Embracing Change: Initially, your team’s proficiency with the selected platform depends on several factors:
- The user interface of the platform.
- The extent of knowledge necessary to make full use of the platform.
- Your team’s skill level before adopting the solution.
Every platform has a distinct interface designed for users with specific coding and developer expertise. It’s crucial to recognize that not all B2B eCommerce software is universally suitable for every team. The emphasis should be on selecting a platform that aligns with your team’s capabilities rather than necessarily choosing the “best” platform overall.
Strategizing Customer Onboarding for Success: The shift from one eCommerce platform to another, or from an outdated proprietary platform to a new one, isn’t always a smooth transition, particularly for your customer base.
When introducing a new solution, it’s essential to have a well-defined plan for onboarding existing customers. Springing a new platform on them without guidance can lead to confusion and frustration.
To simplify the entire process, some eCommerce organizations offer comprehensive launch services. These services aim to facilitate the transition by providing real-time training for both your customers and your in-house staff who are still adapting to new workflows. This distinction can determine whether the implementation process is protracted and challenging or smooth and straightforward for all parties involved.
Ensuring Seamless Integration with Business Software: For organizations utilizing various indispensable business software, such as ERP, PIM, CRM, OMS, etc., it is imperative to select a platform that seamlessly integrates with them.
Avoid the scenario where you invest time and money in an eCommerce platform, only to discover it is incompatible with your existing software. This isn’t just a waste of effort but also a missed opportunity for potential revenue.
The top-rated platforms offer a comprehensive solution that effortlessly connects all your software into a unified package, ensuring a smooth and efficient integration process.
Security: For many customers, security stands as the top priority when choosing a platform. Ensuring the safety of their data is crucial for the successful implementation of your service.
In the context of a B2B-focused eCommerce platform, it is essential to offer robust security measures for:
- Credit card data.
- Customer data.
- Fraud protection.
- Administrative security.
- SSL certificates.
By diligently securing each of these elements, you enhance the likelihood of customers choosing your service. Moreover, dedicated security protocols not only help prevent cyberattacks on your site but also contribute to an improved SEO ranking. Prioritizing security is a wise investment.
Platform Costs and Considerations: When considering cost, we are not only referring to monetary expenses but also the internal investment required for establishing and maintaining the site. A key distinguishing factor lies in the comparison between software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, such as BigCommerce, and on-premise platforms.
While on-premise platforms offer extensive customization options, they necessitate the involvement of full-time developers to navigate the intricate details of the buildout. Additionally, managing security and compliance on an on-premise solution can become a costly endeavor.
In contrast, SaaS platforms delegate many of the supplementary tasks to the third-party vendor, simplifying the process and reducing costs. Opting for a SaaS platform with a well-established history facilitates more accurate forecasting of future expenses.
Choosing between SaaS and on-premise solutions is not straightforward, but the disparity in overall costs may sway the decision in one direction.
Customization: Delivering a customizable and adaptable solution is imperative for B2B ecommerce platforms. Gone are the days when companies could simply introduce a one-size-fits-all solution and expect it to cater to every business and individual. The pace of technological advancement demands specificity.
eCommerce platforms that offer extensive customization are more likely to attract both merchants and customers, primarily due to the critical factor of scalability. Organizations undergoing significant growth or preparing for it require a solution that can expand in tandem with their evolving needs.
Recognizing this, businesses worldwide are providing solutions with enhanced functionality and designs, without incurring additional costs. With emerging approaches like headless commerce gaining popularity, the appeal of customization seems to be on the rise.
Exploring First-Party Data and its Impact on Customer Insights: Embracing a data-driven approach is essential for sustaining or achieving success in the contemporary business landscape. Familiarizing yourself with the available data and actively seeking additional information can set you apart from competitors and contribute to the expansion of your business.
With tools such as Google Analytics and insights from various online channels, comprehending customer behavior has become more accessible than ever. This includes insights into their location, interests, and the factors influencing their purchase decisions.
For an eCommerce platform to position itself for success, it is crucial to incorporate robust strategies for making decisions driven by data.
Must-Have B2B eCommerce Platform Features
User Authentication and Authorization: Secure user authentication ensures that only authorized personnel within a B2B organization can access sensitive information and perform transactions. User roles and permissions further refine access control.
Catalogue Management: Efficient catalogue management enables businesses to organize and showcase their products effectively. This includes features such as bulk uploads, product categorization, and attributes management.
Bulk Ordering and Quick Reordering: B2B transactions often involve bulk orders. Features that facilitate quick and easy bulk ordering, as well as the ability to repeat previous orders with minimal effort, enhance the user experience.
Custom Pricing and Negotiation: B2B pricing models can be complex and may involve negotiations. A robust platform should support custom pricing based on factors like order volume, customer loyalty, or negotiated agreements.
Integration with ERP and CRM Systems: Seamless integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems ensures synchronized data, streamlined operations, and a comprehensive view of customer interactions.
Mobile Responsiveness: With the increasing use of mobile devices, a B2B eCommerce platform must be responsive and offer a user-friendly experience across various screen sizes. Mobile optimization is crucial for on-the-go business transactions.
Order Tracking and Status Updates: Real-time order tracking allows businesses to monitor the status of their orders, enhancing transparency and providing customers with updates on order processing, shipping, and delivery.
Payment and Credit Options: Supporting various payment methods and credit options is vital for accommodating diverse B2B transactions. This includes credit lines, purchase orders, and integration with multiple payment gateways.
Security Features: Robust security measures, including SSL encryption, secure payment gateways, and compliance with industry standards, are essential to protect sensitive customer data and maintain trust.
Scalability and Performance: As businesses grow, the eCommerce platform should scale accordingly. It should handle increased traffic, data, and transactions without compromising performance, ensuring a seamless experience for users.
Customer Support and Training Resources: Comprehensive customer support services and training resources, such as documentation and tutorials, assist users in navigating the platform, resolving issues, and making the most of its features.
Analytics and Reporting: Advanced analytics tools provide insights into customer behavior, sales trends, and overall performance. This data empowers businesses to make informed decisions and optimize their strategies.
By incorporating these features, a B2B eCommerce platform can enhance functionality, improve user experience, and contribute to the success of businesses engaged in online transactions.
Now that you’ve identified the key features to seek in a B2B eCommerce platform and have explored top options, it’s time to streamline your choices.
If you’re experiencing analysis paralysis, that’s completely normal. Remember, this decision warrants thoughtful consideration.
As you move forward, consider three pivotal questions to guide you in selecting the platform that aligns with your company’s needs:
- What capabilities do we possess in terms of utilizing an eCommerce platform?
- What are our present objectives in adopting an eCommerce platform?
- How do we envision these objectives evolving three years from now?
By addressing these questions, you’ll gain valuable insights to pinpoint the ideal B2B eCommerce solution for your company without undue difficulty.
Should you require personalized assistance in choosing the perfect B2B eCommerce solution for your business, get in touch with us at 18th DigiTech today!