B2B e-commerce is entering its golden period. According to research by Forrester, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% over the next five years. While some may still choose to host their own platform, it is evident that a third-party cloud-based platform is the better option. The service and features offered by such platforms are unmatched and critical in ensuring the success of your e-commerce efforts. However, there are still stark differences among these platforms, and it is of utmost importance that you choose the one best suited for your business.
Let’s take a look at some of the key areas which help you decide between the various B2B e-commerce options.
B2B e-commerce is a multi-layered process and it is expected of you to provide as many features as possible. Some of these features require integrations with third-party applications. It is important that your platform facilitates and encourages these integrations. Some platforms offer a store or app exchange where you can find various apps to integrate with your website.
With the advent of online payment options, PCI compliance has gained a lot of importance. Some e-commerce platforms provide this themselves while some leave the burden on you. Along with this, you should also consider the payment options and integrate custom alternatives if required.
B2B e-commerce strives to give the same experience as a B2C platform but it is far more complex, and it is, therefore, necessary for you to check the configurability of your platform. The best platforms offer differential pricing solutions, workflow organization, and customer hierarchies, among other features.
Customer Relationship Management
B2B e-commerce has taken CRM to another level because of the hugely detailed and organized data it provides to businesses. Salesforce, the market leader in B2B e-commerce platforms, completely revolutionized CRM with its entry. You need to test the CRM software on offer and verify its accuracy.
A large proportion of B2B e-commerce inquiries originate from mobile devices, so is essential that your platform is mobile-friendly. The mobile version shouldn’t just be a scaled-down version of the desktop version, as that isn’t always compatible. Special time and effort need to be dedicated to developing your mobile app or website.
Long-standing personal relations have defined B2B commerce for ages and, using cloud-based platforms, you can enhance this personalization to another level. Custom landing pages, detailed account activity, and tailored pricing are just some of the things you can do through online platforms. You need to decide the level of personalization you want to offer and see which platform can fulfill your demands.
Cost and Maintenance
The maintenance requirement of cloud-based platforms is considerably lower than in-house servers, but regular updates still need to be implemented. Moreover, the cost of the service itself along with the price of all the features and updates needs to be accounted for before you choose your B2B e-commerce platform.
E-commerce is the direction in which the B2B market is headed, and it is vital for your business to partner up with the right platform. It is imperative that you assess and learn the nitty-gritty of each platform before deciding which way to go.