According to Salesforce, we are already seeing almost half (48%) of B2B businesses selling products online. What’s more, that number is projected to jump to 88% by 2025. Buyers are constantly on the lookout for great online customer experiences and are willing to pay more to get it. This is forcing companies to prioritize the customer experience, and compete mostly or entirely on the bases of CX.
All of this means that, without an online presence built upon a purpose-built B2B eCommerce platform, it is difficult for a B2B seller to attract and retain customers. Thankfully, the B2B eCommerce platform arena has matured, but navigating offerings and picking the right solution can get tricky.
In this post, we’ve put a list of features that will help you manage online selling and compared some of the most popular B2B eCommerce solutions available on the market today.
What B2B eCommerce features to look for
The B2B eCommerce platform comparison
SAP Commerce Cloud
Comparison Chart of B2B eCommerce systems
Sounds good? Let’s dive in!
The B2B eCommerce platform is a critical component of your eCommerce business. Approach your platform selection process should with a degree of strategic planning and careful analysis of every vendor’s features.
There are some obvious criteria to consider, such as the platform’s ability to handle high traffic volumes, ease of implementation, user experience, and cost. Others are less apparent, such as B2B-specific features that help you streamline and automate tasks, help grow engagement, capture quality leads, and increase sales.
B2B business owners often underestimate their businesses’ complexity. They believe the features they should be looking for in their eCommerce platform are no different from what they’ll find with B2C vendors. They couldn’t be more wrong. Neglecting the importance of B2B-specific features may result in a poor choice of solution leading to poor website performance and the necessity to migrate soon after. Make sure that your B2B eCommerce platform fits your team, customers, and existing business processes. Here are some B2B-specific features your eCommerce platform should have:
The “company as a customer” principle
Various individuals within an organization utilize eCommerce platforms. Your platform should have the architecture to accommodate different groups of buyers, eCommerce managers, purchasing agents, and other individuals. In addition, a business customer’s representatives may require different permissions and access levels. Look for a platform with the ability to accommodate all roles and access rights your business customers may require.
If you sell products to multiple verticals and geographical areas, the ability to roll out unique, separate websites in different languages will allow you to better reach your target audience and offer them superior UX.
B2B eCommerce websites need to go beyond just personalized landing pages, campaigns, and promotional content. You should be able to create completely distinct websites offering experiences relevant to specific verticals. For example, if you are selling medical supplies to government-owned hospitals, private practice medical establishments, and labs, these customer groups will shop and purchase differently. Look for the ability to build personalized self-service portals complete with product catalogs and prices tailored to the customer. Determine how you’ll customize ordering, checkout sequences, and shipping preferences according to customer needs.
Business automation features
Business deals can get quite complex, and so can the ordering process. Your eCommerce system should allow you to build custom-order workflows that improve the customer experience and rep productivity. By centralizing quoting, contract management, and term negotiation, you can eliminate manual data entry that leads to costly errors.
Pricing and ordering features
Business buyers often have peculiar pricing, ordering, invoicing, and payment requirements. As the deal size is big, they will want to negotiate their orders’ prices and terms. Your platform has to accommodate both scenarios – traditional shopping-cart experience as well as RFQ (request for quote) and order negotiation workflows. Additionally, you may want to enact minimum order quantities, custom pricing tiers, and shipping rules. A platform with these options makes the purchasing process easier for your customers, making them come back for more.
Aside from B2B-specific features listed above, there are also some universal functionalities your eCommerce platform should have:
Interfaces should be easy to use for both back-end staff and customers. Whether it’s a customer purchasing items off their cellphones or a purchasing manager approving orders in the admin panel, performing the right action should be intuitive.
Businesses rely on multiple systems to keep track of operations, inventory, and customers. They require integrations with ERP, CRM, PIM, 3PL, procurement, and other systems. And, as your business grows, a robust API will make future integrations easy.
When it’s time to grow, you’ll need to create additional websites, add new languages, products, integrations, or selling models. Your system should sustain high traffic loads, host large catalogs, and scale together with your business despite all this.
Depending on your customer’s and back-office requirements, you may want to seek out the services of digital consultants or developers. A strong API for headless commerce and a developer ecosystem will make their job easier.
Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to compare different solutions back-to-back.
As one of the only platforms built specifically for B2B duty, OroCommerce provides an out-of-the-box B2B eCommerce solution for enterprises looking to build a presence in the B2B market. Since the people who started Oro were on Magento’s founding team, OroCommerce is built on the same time-tested technologies and principles. It makes use of open-source architecture and a large community of developers and integrators, making it easy to fine-tune the platform according to your needs. Lastly, OroCommerce integrates with an in-house CRM as well as numerous other systems. It is built to accommodate multiple selling models such as B2B2B, D2C, B2C, and more.
The SAP Commerce Cloud is a long-standing enterprise system that was formerly known as SAP Hybris. Businesses utilizing SAP’s ecosystems, including SAP Marketing, Sales, Operations, Business Solutions, and Customer modules will find that they work together seamlessly. SAP’s strengths lie in highly personalized user experiences. Multimedia and landing page features are plentiful and will be appreciated by sellers targeting B2B and B2C markets.
Learn more here.
Oracle’s entry into the B2B eCommerce sphere brings an omnichannel platform to their family of ERP, CRM, POS and sales solutions. It is well-positioned for enterprise B2B, B2C, and D2C businesses looking for multi-language, multi-website and multichannel experiences. With its focus on the customer experience, Netsuite powers many B2Bs as well as customer-facing retailers.
Learn more here.
Salesforce helps power sales and CRM processes at many businesses, so those looking to branch off into eCommerce will appreciate their CommerceCloud offerings. Divided into Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud, their B2B eCommerce systems are tightly integrated with the CRM and offer personalization options, reordering forms, and back-end workflows for B2B businesses.
Learn more here.
Magento is a leading open-source eCommerce platform, powering over 240,000 merchants. Magento is primarily focused on B2C businesses but offers considerable add-ons and extensions for some B2B duty. This platform is highly flexible, so based on your customization and features you choose to implement, the cost of your B2B eCommerce store can vary widely.
InsiteCommerce builds cloud and on-premise eCommerce solutions primarily for industrial B2Bs. They work with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers looking to sell over multiple channels and offer integration with their PIM system. InsiteCommerce is preferred by SME to large enterprises, particularly those looking for strong catalog management, and extensive back-end features.
Learn more here.
It’s no secret that online shopping is continuing to expand and this powerful channel will keep attracting more attention, customers, and eventually B2B businesses.
As B2B eCommerce remains a fast-growing market, there’s no better time to start thinking about your B2B eCommerce strategy. Think of it as an investment for the long term that addresses the future needs of your organization.
By analyzing B2B eCommerce platforms and asking vendors the right questions, you’ll be able to identify the features that will work for your industry, business, and customers.
Anna Korolekh is in online marketing since 2009, started her career with content-writing and developing link-building strategies. In 2010 was hired as an SEO analyst for Promodo marketing agency. By 2012 she extended her skillset beyond SEM becoming a digital marketing manager of the International department. In 2014-2016 Anna lead marketing efforts at PSD2HTML web development company until she finally joined Oro Inc. family in November 2016 to lead digital promotion of Oro key products: OroCommerce and OroCRM.
They are listed in our free ebook: get the Ultimate Review of ALL 2020 Ecommerce Trends to know them all. 2020 is already here – better get your copy ASAP