Revenue from B2B ecommerce is expected to double this year, with 55% of B2B shoppers doing at least half of their purchases online.
Buyer preferences are continually changing and acclimating to the trends brought about by digitization, and B2B buyers are no exception.
Therefore, it is not surprising that in 2020, the online sales channel and the online customer experience (CX) represent the principle areas where B2B companies can differentiate themselves.
With these market opportunities in mind, businesses need to start leveraging and optimizing your B2B website to generate a perfect customer experience.
As you prepare to launch your B2B ecommerce strategy, a key question that will inevitably come up is “What kinds of features does my B2B ecommerce solution need?”
Well, it isn’t as easy as adopting the functionalities from a B2C online store. B2B eCommerce works uniquely in contrast to B2C eCommerce.
B2B and B2C customers have different needs and each presents its own challenges. For example, while B2C customers will generally advance pay for their orders, B2B clients can pay with a variety of wholesale installment terms, widened portions, broadened installments, or a credit extension.
Subsequently, having a B2B online store is much more than duplicating a B2C experience. It needs to have the right features that comprehend the exceptional challenges confronted when handling B2B customers.
How eCommerce Platforms Are equipped for B2B Success
While many B2B companies appreciate the benefits of maintaining an e-commerce website, others despite everything insist on more archaic routes – exchanges via telephone or through email, for example.
It’s far less complex to carry out wholesale and affiliate exchanges through an ecommerce site. This makes things easier for the customer and allows B2B organizations to save time and sell more products.
Not all ecommerce platforms are equipped to handle B2B transactions, so selecting the right e-commerce solution is critical to the success of your online B2B business.
Here are 10 key features that ecommerce solutions must offer in order to be considered B2B platforms and provide the right tools to meet B2B buyers’ needs.
B2B commerce self-service functionalities
Gartner anticipated that by 2020, clients will self-oversee 85% of their relationship with an organization.
As implied previously, cold pitching or in any event, reordering via telephone with a salesman won’t do you any justice.
As digital transformation is instilled into each business region, purchasers’ desires move too.
B2B clients are comfortable with having authority over their purchases.
Self-service portals or applications address this new need, permitting them to order on their own terms.
By incorporating your site with an eCommerce platform, your clients will have the option to search your items, request cites, place requests, and reorder rapidly (independent of time and area), check request status, access a Knowledge Base, and so on.
Don’t fall into the trap of automating everything though – the key is balancing digital and human interaction.
It is sufficient to automate only routine or procedural tasks that the customer can perform without interacting with a salesperson. This saves a lot of time for both parties.
But in the end, the goal of B2B is to develop and nurture strong relationships with customers and in order to do that, the most personal interactions with the sales team cannot be completely replaced by digital solutions.
B2B companies generally have different prices for different clients. There are several ways to structure this on an ecommerce site, including a discount for customer groups, a specific price for each SKU and customer mix, and quantity discounts for all customers or customer groups, or a mix of these techniques.
Keeping prices up to date for thousands of customers and products can be a challenge. Plan for how you will address this problem.
This generally occurs through a file system or integration, at bulk import prices. Consider limiting certain products to specific customers or customer groups.
Excellent product data
Excellent product pictures and point by point item descriptions are a bare necessity on B2B websites today.
Beautiful pictures and helpful, clear item descriptions increment your sales, both for B2C and now additionally for B2B.
It additionally drives customer self-service, limiting the time and pressure on your team to answer product-related questions.
Traditionally, B2B customers simply bought the products they needed and knew they were in stock. Now, they want to search your online catalog for other products that they can buy from you in a convenient purchase.
Having descriptive data for the product will improve the buying process and lead to conversion. Be sure to clearly display related items ( pitches and up-sells) during their checkout process.
Managing a responsive website is presently an easy decision. Furthermore, with so many people using alternative devices to shop online, your mobile-optimized website needs to cover all periods of the sales cycle.
Today, all websites should make it easy for mobile device users to interact and buy. The easiest way to get started is to make your site responsive to mobile devices.
Consider what devices your clients will use and which mobile features are imperative to them.
Real-time inventory levels
There’s nothing worse than placing an order just to be notified that not all items are available.
Not only will it cause more customer service problems, but your clients’ trust in your organization will begin to deteriorate as well.
Continuous stock reports on product pages let clients know precisely where they are and assist you with maintaining a strategic distance from the danger of overselling stock and frustrating potential buyers.
Re-order or quick order functionality
Putting in enormous orders with different SKUs can get complicated if not taken care of accurately.
Allowing clients tot include items by part number or SKU via a mass request structure, and having the option to quickly change the request amount for each line, can smooth out this process and speed up the checkout experience.
For additional points, permit your clients to reorder past exchanges from inside their account space and make repeat buys simple.
The buying models of B2B buyers are quite different from those of B2C buyers. You must ensure that your ecommerce platform supports these essential features:
- Bulk Orders and Discounts – Most of the time, B2B customers order large quantities, so it is crucial to simplify this tedious and sometimes routine task by streamlining the checkout process with necessary built-in features. You may want to consider dynamic pricing, moving in real time, according to certain criteria specified by the buyer. Volume discounts or total order discounts based on order quantity or value should also be available.
- Minimum Order Quantity – Many B2B merchants force such a limitation so as to keep up their net revenues. Embrace it in the event that it bodes well for your market strategy.
- One-Click Reorganization: Rearranging is quite a repetitive and routine task. When you activate the one-click replenishment feature, your customers’ previous order information will be recorded so that their next purchase can be completed with one click.
- Automatic Renewals – Why choose one-click replacement? Bundle your services and even your physical assets into subscriptions and have your customers switch to auto-renew for convenience and speed.
Multiple users in a single account
When your customers are businesses, many people can order from one account. Taking care of this can get troublesome.
Will clients under a record see other clients’ requests? How are the clients added to the record? This component is deficient in numerous ecommerce platforms. This is important for B2B sites.
Support for sales reps
B2B marketers often see the web as a threat. But an ecommerce site can be an asset to sellers and sellers can be an asset to the site. Structure your website to strengthen the customer’s relationship with your representative.
Allow reps to sign in as customers and order for them. Representatives can utilize the eCommerce site to check stock when talking to customers, to request product samples from customers, and to access sales materials and specifications.
Request a quote
Some products are difficult to price. An ecommerce site can allow customers to submit a request for a quote and streamline the process.
The speed and effortlessness of working with your organization give you the upper hand. Utilize your ecommerce site to make it that much simpler.
9 Comparison Criteria for B2B Ecommerce Software
Just as business-to-business commerce is changing online, projected at $4.8 trillion by 2021 no less, business-to-business commerce is also evolving away from its offline operations.
Forrester research shows that B2B e-commerce in the United States is expected to exceed $1.8 trillion by 2023 and account for 17% of all domestic B2B sales. In addition, it will increase by 10% annually for the next five years.
- Mobile compatibility: More and more B2B decision makers are using their mobile devices to find solutions. Not being mobile friendly can be expensive these days.
- Compliance: The platform must be able to adapt to the GDPR and other mandatory user privacy guidelines currently in force.
- B2B functionality – Ideally, your B2B eCommerce platform should include eCommerce functionality targeting B2B buyers, such as bulk ordering and pricing, account management, and various shipping/payment features.
- Optimal user experience: The user should be able to customize market models to create an intuitive and friendly experience.
- 24/7 Availability – Unlike the customary technique where customers need to wait for a response, ecommerce platforms are reachable anytime.
- Marketing functionality: With more and more online searches taking place on the web and mobile devices, SEO-optimized ecommerce platforms are improving their visibility.
- Staging Environment: There is no way to assuage the fact that humans are subject to error. Automated platforms provide a consistent sales solution.
- Journey templates: Selling complex solutions can be difficult. Implementing a digital configurator makes life easier for all parties involved.
- Customer Communications – Not only does the customer get a quick response, but he can also choose his ideal item(s) with only a couple of clicks.
A Digital Experience that Customers Want to Use
It is no longer enough to focus on streamlining transactions, payments, and prices to modernize experiences; you need to think broadly to cover the entire customer experience.
By itself, an ecommerce solution is often not designed to provide engaging experiences that span the entire customer journey.
All things considered, numerous organizations are going to incorporate arrangements that consolidate advanced digital experience usefulness with commerce to effectively convey current B2B e-commerce experiences.
Enhance the entire B2B customer journey by looking for a platform that incorporates these three features:
- Execution of personalization: According to an Accenture study, 73% of B2B buyers say they want a personalized customer experience, similar to B2C. Still, many companies don’t provide the personalized experiences their customers need because their existing platforms lack the digital experience capabilities necessary to satisfy the modern B2B customer. Personalization can have great business benefits because it can be used to:
- Increase your sales with product recommendations.
- Show relevant content based on customer interest and past behavior.
- View search results based on your customers’ previous search history.
- Track data into insights: To effectively execute personalization strategies, you must be equipped to track and collect data to turn it into information that can be leveraged to drive those strategies. Digital platforms can track and leverage large amounts of data, which would otherwise be impossible with traditional commerce. A powerful digital solution is capable of offering data reporting tools that not only track performance metrics, but also provide real-time analysis of traffic patterns, customer insights, and business performance pages to reveal what customers are doing and what is effective on your website. When data is brought together in one place, that information can be used to drive personalization efforts, discover new business opportunities, and identify bottlenecks.
- Merge content with commerce: One of the most cited problems in commerce is trying to reuse the content that you have created in a content management system (CMS) within your commerce platform. To deliver consistent business experiences across all touchpoints, companies are turning to platforms that can bring business systems and content together.
With a solution capable of bringing together all the content of an organization on a single platform, companies can take advantage of a unified solution that can create a single, comprehensive experience that is easier to manage and, in the end, adds more value for the customer.
You can create marketing landing pages, built-in knowledge bases, and product pages enriched with videos and guides without having to integrate separate systems with each other.
Putting it together
The Future of B2B Commerce is B2C-like Experiences
Now you know what to look for in a B2B ecommerce solution. While not all are deciding factors if a specific solution is missing, all are important.
Remember that your B2B clients are not faceless account numbers. They are humans who expect seamless, personalized shopping experiences online.
Deliver on those expectations (across all touch points and channels), and your business will enjoy greater process efficiency, lower cost of customer acquisition, and generally more satisfied customers.
You must determine what is most important to your business in order to decide what is not essential.
For example, if you sell hardware components such as screws and nails in bulk, brand-name and high-quality images may not be as important as integration with your operational workflow.
To begin your own B2B ecommerce business site, you can assemble your whole site from scratch, design/personalize a B2C site, or exploit a devoted B2B internet business portal.
Building a B2B ecommerce site from scratch generally requires a high initial investment, as well as time-consuming recurring maintenance.
On average, clients trying to develop their own B2B ecommerce site for their clients take six to twenty-four months to create.
B2C sites don’t customarily oblige to the more intricate B2B rules and can require substantial investment.
By comparison, you can launch your B2B ecommerce business in less than a week using a dedicated B2B ecommerce portal from a hosted company.
Here at Docmation, we can help you achieve that goal with our B2B eCommerce portal. Docmation’s Salesforce B2B Commerce Quick Start Packages are tailored to meet the needs of your business.
For years, our B2B commerce implementations have led to significant improvements in key eCommerce parameters, including conversion rate, ROI, cart conversion, revenue, and more.