- 1 - 10 Factors to Keep in Mind When Searching for a B2B e-Commerce Platform
- 2 - 7 Key Features of a Good B2B eCommerce Platform
- 3 - Five of the Best B2B eCommerce Platforms Available in 2023
- 4 - Final Thoughts
According to industry predictions, the B2B eCommerce industry will snowball and reach a whopping $3 trillion by 2027. To succeed in this space, businesses must provide a seamless and customized online shopping experience with the latest tools and automation.
Mercifully, this can be easily achieved using an all-in-one B2B eCommerce platform. This article offers detailed insights into choosing the perfect one if upgrading your existing business systems.
10 Factors to Keep in Mind When Searching for a B2B e-Commerce Platform
B2B eCommerce customers expect similar online shopping experiences to B2C customers. Unfortunately, that does not mean the two platform types are directly interchangeable. When purchasing an eCommerce platform, keeping the following factors in mind will help ensure you choose the right one for your B2B e-commerce operations:
Your Business Needs
When choosing a B2B eCommerce platform, it’s crucial to consider your business requirements. This includes evaluating whether the platform supports your products/services and payment methods, integrates order management with other systems like warehouse feeds and marketing tools, provides a user-friendly experience for wholesale customers and reliable checkout process, can handle increased traffic and sales, meets industry security standards, has a manageable backend for your team, and fits within your budget.
It’s also important to know if you need a multisite functionality, which is useful for multiple brands plus a site dedicated for wholesale pricing with ecommerce features. It’s easier to manage multiple storefronts
Carefully considering these factors will help you choose the right storefront platform for your business’s online sales.
Hosting your platform on-premises offers complete control over data but requires significant upfront investments and ongoing maintenance. Conversely, cloud-hosted platforms require less expensive infrastructure and IT resources, but you may have to rely on external vendors with your sensitive information.
There are many web hosting companies out there, who manage the server for you and ensure uptime. You can read reviews and get recommendations from your networking circle.
Library of Pre-made Templates
Having ready-made templates provides a quick and cost-effective way to launch an online store. You can choose a template that fits your brand and style and customize it to meet your business needs, allowing you to launch your store faster with less hassle and lower costs.
An open-source platform allows you to modify its code without limitation, offering endless creative freedom for customization and functionality. This also opens up purchasing plugins to give instant solutions to problems.
B2B eCommerce websites require specific features to make purchasing a secure and frictionless experience. For example, consider a platform that offers the following pre-purchase features:
- Parent and child accounts with varying permissions, credit limits, and workflow options.
- Customer groups with specific attributes such as pricing and minimum order quantity.
- Advanced search functionality for sophisticated product attributes.
- Sales literature integrating various media types.
During the actual purchase phase, preferred platform features include:
- Minimum order and/or installation size configurations.
- Customer product configuration tools, including pricing.
- Quotation and order approval processes.
- Credit limits, payment terms, and bill pay options.
For post-purchase activities, the platform should encompass the following:
- Seamless eCommerce and ERP integration.
- A portal your sales personnel can use to manage customers and orders.
- Ability to save shopping carts and lists for future orders.
- Multiple warehouse support.
Security is crucial when choosing an eCommerce platform due to the sensitive nature of B2B transactions. This includes financial data and confidential internal information. Furthermore, B2B companies must legally protect customer data according to privacy regulations like GDPR. Therefore, look for platforms with encryption, SSL certificates, data backup and recovery, and industry security standards compliance.
And this is the reason Woocommerce is not on this list of online stores platforms. While it is a good option for small businesses as an ecommerce website, and has plus points with cheaper and less reliance on outside developers. The security aspects if using WordPress plugins make it a non-option for any respectable medium or large business.
Payment Card Industry Compliance
PCI compliance is crucial to safeguard customers’ payment card information. The platform you choose will determine whether you or a third-party team is responsible for creating and maintaining PCI security. For example, some cloud-based platforms offer this protection since the data resides on their servers, which they manage. Conversely, clients using other hosted solutions must ensure they satisfy all PCI compliance requirements, including verifying that payment gateways meet industry standards.
Not all B2B companies have massive tech budgets and must be cautious about spending. Therefore, before selecting a B2B eCommerce platform, ask yourself these key questions:
- What is the total cost of ownership? Are there transaction fees, custom development costs, ongoing maintenance charges, etc?
- What is the potential ROI and will this drive business growth?
- Can the platform expand with your business growth?
Addressing these concerns will assist in choosing a cost-effective B2B eCommerce platform that provides a favourable ROI.
If you choose on-premises hosting for your B2B eCommerce platform, you will be responsible for server management and fixing faulty code and site-related issues. Conversely, cloud-based platforms establish and host your eCommerce site, perform automatic updates, and provide 24/7 monitoring and repair services.
Help and Support
B2B eCommerce platforms can be complex, and users may need assistance navigating them. Therefore, assessing the level of support and resources available, such as technical and user support, documentation, training, and community, is vital when choosing one.
7 Key Features of a Good B2B eCommerce Platform
Here are seven key features any respectable B2B eCommerce platform should possess:
The platform should provide password-secured restricted access to pre-registered customers or approved sellers.
Device Responsive Design
The platform should support responsive design to render web content correctly across various devices, enabling buyers to purchase regardless of whether they use a laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet.
Personalized Catalogue Management
A good B2B eCommerce platform should allow sellers to customize product lists for different business units, divisions, and individual customers. Customization is crucial as rigid templates fail to cater to diverse business requirements.
Flexible Payment Options
B2B transactions are more complex than their B2B equivalents. Therefore, the ability to offer flexible payment methods and terms, both offline and online, ensures a better user experience.
Customer Self-Service Features
The platform should offer customers easy access to necessary information for deciding on their preferred products and solutions, e.g., shipping information, quote approvals, etc.
Reports and Analytics
Robust analytics and reporting capabilities can provide valuable insights into the platform’s performance and help you make data-driven decisions.
The platform should integrate effectively with other systems to ensure harmonious working between your existing and future online and offline channels. This allows for efficient business operation and a great customer purchasing experience.
Five of the Best B2B eCommerce Platforms Available in 2023
OroCommerce eCommerce solutions focus on medium to large enterprises worldwide. Being open-source, it is possible to deeply customize and modify the platform to fit your business’s needs. Features-wise, OroCommerce includes multiple pricing lists, flexible workflows, user and inventory management, a CRM, and third-party integrations.
Formerly known as Magento and initially designed as a B2C solution, Adobe Commerce has become a popular choice for B2B marketplaces globally, including the UK. Despite its B2C origins, Adobe Commerce offers various extensions and add-ons to convert it to B2B use cases. Furthermore, a modular design provides easy scalability, but the cost can quickly become problematic for smaller companies with limited budgets.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers both B2B and B2C eCommerce platforms. It is designed for businesses with complex pricing and discount structures and features a broad selection of eCommerce and CRM tools. By providing customers with a user-friendly online experience, this solution generates high-quality leads and builds strong client relationships.
Shopify Plus is an extension of the well-known Shopify B2C eCommerce platform, with all the necessary tools for B2B use. As a fully hosted solution, Shopify Plus eliminates web hosting and software installation concerns, allowing for a simple setup. Moreover, it offers an extensive feature list for managing your online B2B business.
BigCommerce B2B Edition
BigCommerce B2B Edition is a user-friendly solution, making it ideal for those who are not tech-savvy. Its integral themes allow for quick and effortless online store building. A unique feature of this solution is the ability to sell on both B2B and B2C through a single platform. Moreover, it easily integrates with existing systems, enabling business automation.
Selecting the right B2B eCommerce platform can enhance your business growth by providing customers with a smooth online shopping experience. However, choosing the right platform requires effort and consideration. By following the guidance in this article, you will be reliably informed of the platform features you should look for to ensure your business needs and future growth are appropriately catered for.