Ten Must Have Features for a Successful B2B eCommerce Platform

Whether you are entering the B2B ecommerce arena for the first time or looking to replatform an existing site, you’ll be evaluating your B2B eCommerce platform options.  With the many solutions available, it’s easier than ever to find a vendor supplied product with a lower total cost of ownership that building your web commerce solution from scratch. But to be successful you need certain features that support your business while empowering you to provide a quality customer experience. Growing your business may require you to embrace B2B eCommerce. Because if the eCommerce platform doesn’t provide the features for success, it doesn’t matter what you paid – you paid too much.

Here are ten must have features to build a successful B2B eCommerce business. 

Support Multiple Business Models and Channels

B2B eCommerce is highly complex and successful companies evolve to adapt to changing markets and market demands.

That means your platform must not only support multiple channels, but it also needs to support multiple business models.

For example, today you may be engaged in straight B2B eCommerce, but Gartner research indicates that by 2023 there’s a good chance you’ll be operating a marketplace if you offer medium to high value merchandise. 

Start by looking for a solution that supports multiple business models and multiple channels all from one instance. This allows you to engage in B2B, B2B2B, B2C, and even stand up a marketplace all with one back-end. 

To future-proof your business, make sure to have the ability to pivot to B2X, no matter what the X may be.

Allow Users to Define Roles and Permissions

B2B purchases frequently involve multiple players in the purchase decision. You’ll make the negotiation and purchase experience much easier for buyers if you allow them to set user roles and permissions for their own account. 

This convenience customizes the roles and permissions to adapt to the customer, instead of requiring the customer to adapt to the requirements of the platform. This improves the customer experience from the very start.

That’s important because in 2020, customer experience became the main differentiator in the purchase experience. It now surpasses price and 86% of buyers are actually willing to pay more for an improved experience. 

No Limits on SKUs, Catalogs, or Price Lists

Another trend in B2B eCommerce is the rise of personalization. Personalization requires a platform that doesn’t limit the number of catalogs, price lists, or SKUs you can process.

This is important, because if you negotiate prices and terms by client, you’ll need a price list for each client. 

Also, customers don’t want to scroll through volumes of pages to find the products they frequently purchase.  When you provide them customized catalogs of the products they purchase and exclude the products in which they are not interested you may their job easier. And of course, this is just another way you can improve their buying experience.

If you sell highly customized products, unlimited SKUs will be an important feature for success. With unlimited SKUs you can define custom products by customer without the worry of database limits or constraints. 

Digitized RFQ and QTC Workflows

B2B buyers do 70% of their research online. Once they’ve compared your features and benefits, they want to know more details.

What will the product cost, when will it be available, how can it be customized?

Increasingly, they don’t want to call or email you to find out the answers to these questions. If you don’t give them a way to make a digital request, you can fall off the short list before the first contact.

Provide buyers a way to electronically request a quote. And bonus points if the B2b eCommerce platform also includes a pricing engine that will automatically prepare the quote. 

Speed the conversion by also providing a digital quote to cash process. 

Your eCommerce platform must make it as easy as possible to do business with your company. It’s just that simple. 

Localization Ability

Whether you intend to operate globally or in just a few select areas, localization is an important feature to have.

Whether you are a supplier of medical devices that must control the distribution area or a global wholesaler of salt, you need the ability to localize.

Localization can be in the form of multiple languages, currencies, or shipping options or localization can control the products that are displayed. 

If your product isn’t approved for sale in certain countries or markets, then localization allows you to suppress the product while displaying and promoting products that are approved for sale. 

Localization is just another feature you need to have to provide an excellent customer experience at your online store. 

Support for Multiple Payment Gateways

B2B orders are rarely paid in full before the order ships. The standard debit, credit, PayPal and other popular B2C solutions may not be sufficient.

Look for a B2B eCommerce platform that integrates with and supports a wide range of payment gateways and solutions. 

If you sell on terms, you’ll want to make sure your platform integrates with your solution for assessing credit risk and setting limits. 

If you factor your receivables, you’ll want to check for compatibility with your factoring provider. 

Are your payments commonly made by ACH? Then make sure your eCommerce platform integrates with an ACH solution. 

Getting the order is good, getting paid is even better!

Make sure you have as many options as possible when it comes to payment processing. 

Mobile Responsive and Intuitive CMS Interface

Up to now, the features have focused on what’s required to provide your customers an excellent experience.

But customers aren’t the only ones that will interact with your platform. Make sure the back-end is as easy-to-use and user friendly as the front-end.

You’ll want the ability to access the platform to perform changes and maintenance no matter what platform or device you use. So, make sure the back-end is completely mobile responsive.

It’s important that the interface is intuitive. This decreases downtime due to new employee training. Also, if there is a WYSISYG interface, you don’t need to be a design expert to create landing pages.

Look for a solution that’s approachable for the non-tech employees and they will use more of the features that are available. 

Easy Integrations with ERP, PIM, CRM

Your eCommerce platform isn’t an island. It needs to integrate with your existing architecture. Look for an API that easily connects with your ERP, PIM, CRM, WMS, or other business solutions.

The best decisions are data-informed, and you can’t get data if it resides in silos throughout the company. 

Make sure the platform you select will easily integrate without extensive customization. 

Robust Community and Easy to Access Support

Just as your platform isn’t an island, neither is your installation. You’ll want to know that there’s an active community of users, experts, and partners.

When possible, look for open source solutions as these usually feature greater community support. This can be in the form of plug-ins, widgets, or extensions. See if there is a community marketplace where vendor-approved products are available.

Also, make sure you ask about vendor support before making the final decision. How easily is support accessed? 

Out of the Box Solution

Finally, look for the platform that provides most of the features you need right out of the box. The more that comes standard, the less you must customize.

A solution that provides at least 80% of what you need to out of the box will provide you with a faster ROI and a quicker time to market. 

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