With improvements in technology and many changes in the business environment, B2B customers are now purchasing online to a much greater extent. This makes it vital for B2B sellers to have an effective online presence. However, building a B2B web store is not easy if the business does not first implement the right tools.
One of the vital requirements for building a successful and competitive online B2B store is to select a great B2B eCommerce platform. Companies have to choose the platforms that meet their needs and offer customers an excellent experience.
What is a B2B eCommerce platform?
Selling and buying online need to be facilitated using good software. The software that enables transactions over the internet is known as an eCommerce platform. A B2B eCommerce platform is the software that enables the buying and selling between businesses. And given the unique buying habits of businesses and the various things that B2B sellers need to have in place, B2B eCommerce platforms have to be well-designed and have certain features.
What to look for when choosing a B2B eCommerce platform?
While the process of picking the best B2B eCommerce platform may not be straightforward, it should not be a terrifying task. Typically, you need to know your business needs and what you want to achieve with your online B2B store. Then, armed with this knowledge, you can look for a platform with features that meet your needs and achieve your company’s goals.
Below are some of the key things to look for when selecting a B2B eCommerce platform:
Capacity to meet business and customer needs
Every business has unique needs, even if some of the needs are common across many companies. Also, the customers who shop from one store have different needs from those who buy from another. Therefore, as you choose a B2B eCommerce platform for your company, it is vital to go for a flexible solution to fulfill the needs of all its users. This is necessary for both the front end and back end.
Unfortunately, some B2B sellers looking to cut costs may go for B2C eCommerce platforms because they are cheaper. But unfortunately, they are unsuitable for B2B eCommerce. The truth is that B2B customers have needs that differ a great deal from B2C customers.
The eCommerce platform you select for your B2B store should be dictated by the kind of business you operate and its unique needs. For example, if you run a distribution or manufacturing business, your chosen platform should accommodate that. However, your business needs will be significantly different from those of such businesses as wholesalers.
The needs of customers who buy from manufacturers and distributors also differ, so you have to consider that too. For instance, your store should be able to provide personalized pricelists and allow customers to access only certain areas of the system.
Ability to scale your store
As you choose a B2B eCommerce platform, you should pick a system that will accommodate the expansion of your company over time. Most likely, your business will expand to capture the international market. This will come with new demands such as handling multi-currency transactions, using several languages, and the taxation differences. By considering such things, from the start, you can select a platform that can accommodate such demands, or that has easy upgrade options to handle the growth.
Easy integration with other systems
The chances are that businesses running B2B online stores are also using ERP software, especially if they have a huge number of SKUs. ERP is instrumental in uniting all the key back-office areas—accounting, inventory, human resources, management, etc. into an integrated system for efficient management of day-to-day activities.
A perfect B2B eCommerce platform should seamlessly integrate with the ERP to synchronize online transactions with the backend operations. A good example is when a customer makes a purchase; the data should be transferred to the backend to update the customer’s information and inventory and produce an invoice. With a good platform, there’s no need to update anything manually.
The cost implications
It would be best to consider the cost of getting a B2B eCommerce platform and all the other related costs as you choose a platform for your store. However, you should avoid trying to save money by going for cheaper options that may cost you more to scale up or to integrate with other systems later down the line.
In addition to the above considerations, other factors that you need to consider as you choose a B2B eCommerce platform include the availability and reliability of technical support and various payment options. You will certainly get a solution that works for your customers and business when you weigh all these factors.