In an age in which the digital-savvy generation comprises most buyers in the world, having an e-commerce website is no longer an option; it is mandatory for good business.
A B2B e-commerce platform is very different from B2C because the psychology of B2B customers is different from B2C.
B2B customers are all people who run businesses. Their online buying journey is far more data and research-based than B2C customers, for whom the process is more emotion-based.
As a result, B2C and B2B e-commerce platform comparison will yield drastic differences in the metrics and functionality provided. After all, the goals are distinct and separate for the two.
However, despite that, the best e-commerce platforms for B2C and B2B wholesale businesses alike must ensure one thing for success – a premium customer experience.
No matter what demographic the e-commerce site targets, it must guarantee a superior user experience. In turn, a B2B commerce platform should have the features to help the business accomplish that.
The ultimate goal of every element and functionality of any e-commerce portal should be to create a user experience that results in engagement, conversion, and retention.
There is no single rule or formula for that. Every component of the platform contributes to this.
Not only that, but the platform should also guide the user in the application of these components to provide the desired effect that will encourage the customers to take the intended action.
The best B2B e-commerce platform should assist the user from the building of their online storefront to the updation of their site to cater to the latest trends in the e-commerce industry.
It should allow the user to have full control over every account throughout the e-commerce customer lifecycle. The more facilities the platform natively provides, the less the user has to depend on external solutions to get the job done.
But the platform should definitely allow third-party integration so that the user can create the perfect solution that mirrors their vision. We will discuss the most important and practical B2B e-commerce platform features in the next section.
Anatomizing The Perfect B2B E-commerce Platform
Top e-commerce platforms like Salesforce, Big Commerce, or Magento B2B commerce have certain things in common when it comes to providing the perfect solution for their users.
While many of these can be added on through integrations, having them provided on a platter is a big advantage, especially if you are looking for a B2B e-commerce platform for an affordable startup.
It will avert the need to employ multiple experts and make do with one proficient and certified e-commerce architect for that platform. Such features are discussed below.
Setting Up The Storefront
The first requirement you need from a B2B e-commerce platform is the development of an online storefront.
An easy-to-use page builder, preferably drag-and-drop, is an asset when it comes to planning a successful B2B e-commerce platform website. Not every user will be able to hire a full-stack website development team.
For them, a user-friendly e-commerce website design tool is useful in creating a page that can support B2B customer interactions without hiccups.
Web design is a real science and requires knowledge of what works from the point of view of your customer. B2B e-commerce software should provide features for the following in the least:
- Component placement
- Graphics and text design
- Navigation elements
- Data-based design recommendations
- Testing capabilities
It should also allow the user to make quick changes without needing a burdensome development cycle for quick scaling. The Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform has a user-friendly Page Designer for this purpose that eliminates the need to write complex code to create your page.
Besides built-in tools, there are both Salesforce to Salesforce integration options with tech partners and third-party Salesforce integration services to develop the perfect B2B e-commerce marketplace for your clients.
The best B2B e-commerce platform should have the features necessary to double as a sales engagement platform so that your sales team can interact with clients in real-time without committing dangerous mistakes. B2B customers prefer self-service and intuitive guided buying over constant assistance from your sales team.
For that, the B2B e-commerce portal must provide the following facilities:
- Custom catalog creation
- Pricing engine that allows contract pricing, account-based pricing, transparent pricing rule creation, etc.
- Advanced cart access and control
- Reordering facilities
- Client behavior-based product recommendations
The checkout process should be simple and without hidden costs. It should integrate client data to automate the checkout workflow. All relevant payment options should be available and integrable with the platform.
The Salesforce B2B Commerce Cloud has the necessary B2B e-commerce sales tools and data analytics and access capabilities to assist your sales team in giving your clients a smooth purchasing experience.
Customer relationship is at the crux of B2B interactions. Because B2B is far more targeted and personalized than B2C, clients expect a high degree of engagement and interactions to make the buying process easier and smoother.
The best B2B commerce platform will help connect your service team with clients at all preferred customer touchpoints.
Moreover, it should provide instant access to customer data so that the service can be tailored to suit the client. It should provide the following features:
- Omnichannel B2B commerce facilities
- Real-time access to customer data and profiles
- Personalization of interactions
- Upsell and cross-sell opportunities
- Automation of follow-ups for both lost and repeat business
Salesforce uses Customer 360 to give you an all-around view of the target profile for the B2B e-commerce platform to guide your sales team in customizing the experience for your clients. By quickly syncing data across systems, including the Service Cloud, Salesforce helps you leverage all relevant data at any required interaction channel to build excellent customer loyalty and relationships.
The right marketing is key to the right reach. B2B marketing differs from B2C in that it targets each client or account and not just a category of customers.
With the right CMS and marketing analytics platform, it should be easy to reach the right people with the right message without being too pushy or in-your-face.
The best e-commerce platform for B2B marketing will include:
- Action-based personalization of campaigns
- Data-based campaign creation
- Follow-up features for abandoned carts
- Account-based discounts and offers
- Access-based information dispensation
- Personalized content provision
By syncing with the Marketing Cloud, Salesforce allows you to tailor the perfect ecosystem for your clients to view and understand your offerings for better buying decisions.
Moreover, with the Salesforce B2B e-commerce platform, churn rate can be visibly reduced and brand loyalty affected by taking advantage of its hybrid CMS.
A B2B e-commerce platform should rely heavily on data at all points. Because B2B customers themselves depend on data to make purchasing decisions, you need to do the same to stay one step ahead and give them exactly what they need.
Moreover, a B2B client is not a single person; it is a corporate entity with multiple employees and teams working together on making a decision.
To be a successful B2B business, you must take into account the varying psyches at play and create effective account hierarchies to allow your client to establish internal boundaries.
Salesforce B2B e-commerce has made this possible on many fronts. It integrates data from various sources in an easy, single-dash view with Customer 360.
Einstein Analytics makes it possible to seek elusive patterns and trends in the market as well as in client behavior, and to serve accordingly. It allows the sharing of dashboards among teams and people with the right level of access to leverage the right data at the right time.
Perhaps the most pivotal element that can be the make-or-break factor in B2B e-commerce growth and customer retention is the order management
facilities that the platform you use can provide. B2B orders are bound to be complex and the platform should have the right features to come through on them.
This is another point where customer segmentation is extremely crucial because pricing and order limits can vary based on the client profile.
Accordingly, the e-commerce services platform should provide the following capabilities:
- Client segmentation and catalog control based on business category, SKU, price, or other factors
- Control over order volume, pricing, discounts, inventory, customization, etc
- Quick bulk ordering and reordering facilities
- Multiple payout options
- Integration of geography and business-based tax, currency, and other financial rules
- Complex invoicing and shipping facilities based on time and/or place
- Automation of payments, invoice creation, cancellations, returns, exchanges, and refunds
With the B2B Commerce Cloud of Salesforce, you can automate and manage your order workflows and ease the process for both your client and your own team.
You get B2B commerce shipping integration and complex invoice management, tax and financial security compliance, and client segmentation for order management all under one roof.
You can refer to the Features That Make a Perfect B2B eCommerce Platform for a more detailed account of this.
When it comes to B2B e-commerce, Salesforce has very little competition, especially with all the recent updates and additions. Choosing the right B2B e-commerce is essential, whether you want to build a new B2B site or you want to improve your e-commerce website that currently exists.