When you're evaluating the features of a B2B ecommerce platform, you need to keep some 'fit-for-purpose' considerations in mind
For anyone who thinks that B2B doesn't have as healthy a share of the ecommerce market as B2C, consider this: recent Forrester research indicates that the B2B industry will top $1.2 trillion over the next few years - pretty much leaving B2C in the dust.
They also state that:
"The most successful B2B companies will prioritise their buyers' experience across channels, focusing on creating more omnichannel customers."
If you're serious about optimising the customer experience, then having a B2B ecommerce platform is a must - you'll have worked that out by now. If you're reading this, it's probably because you've had a look at what's available and are wondering how to evaluate them. It’s important to select the right one for your B2B business, whether this is your first ecommerce platform or you're upgrading from your current solution. That's where we come in.
Essential features of a B2B ecommerce platform
We've been around the B2B ecommerce landscape for a while now, and we've gleaned a number of valuable insights about what works and what doesn't for B2B ecommerce solutions. The first and most fundamental consideration to keep in mind is that you need to go with a solution that's been designed and built with B2B in mind. Don't fall into the trap of investing in something that claims it works for B2C and B2B; to really get the most out of your ecommerce investment, you need something that's been purpose-built.
Let's take a look at some of the other must-haves:
The ability to provide a great experience in every channel
Forrester talked about the importance of the omnichannel experience, and it's a key factor. If you operate a multi-channel approach, you'll reach more customers. That means including online ordering, mobile field rep CRM, automated purchase order processing, in-store, etc. But they have to be unified and work together, so look for an integrated platform that has the ability to create a seamless experience.
International selling and multi-currency
Increasingly, the B2B marketplace is becoming a global one. That's why you need a B2B ecommerce platform that can handle the logistics and currencies of selling internationally. It's how you'll find new markets and grow your customer base.
Look for a solution that can integrate with popular third-party providers, e.g. Google Analytics, HubSpot and other business intelligence tools. Custom reporting features allow you to manage your reports in one system, providing a single source of truth and saving time and money on costly software licenses.
Real-time inventory status
Top of the list of frustrations for your customers is placing an order only to be told that some or all of the items are not available. A B2B ecommerce platform should update the inventory in real time, with continuous stock reports on product pages that let your customers know exactly what you've got available, and where it's located.
The above are just some of the essentials you need to look for when you're doing your due diligence. However, if you really want to make sure you're going to get the most out of your B2B ecommerce investment, then you need to get down into the nitty-gritty.
A practical checklist for selecting the right B2B ecommerce platform for your business
If thoroughly evaluating your options is a priority for you - and we think it should be - then you've come to the right place. We recently developed a practical guide and checklist that will help you choose the right solution for your business. Tick all these boxes, and you'll be on the right path to benefitting from a swift ROI.
The guide covers:
- Why you shouldn't turn up to a B2B gunfight with a B2C knife - there are some solutions that were designed originally for B2C, and have had a few B2B features bolted on. They're not going to be the best bang for your buck
- The Checklist - questions to ask yourself, and a detailed list of must-have boxes to tick and why
- A quick overview of Commerce Vision's ‘built-for-B2B’ ecommerce platform
You're investing time and money into a B2B ecommerce solution, so you want to get it right the first time. Work your way through the checklist, and you'll be able to easily identify the best fit for your B2B business.
Ready to start ticking boxes? Download the checklist today.