Focus on B2B Experience and Personalization
To successfully address the needs of B2B online buyers, B2B sellers will be increasingly incentivized to equip their webstores with vital features for B2B eCommerce. With the B2B eCommerce market booming, companies are becoming more accustomed to buying online but also more demanding when it comes to the B2B online experience. If you’re a B2B business upgrading your existing website, building it from scratch, or already using a B2B eCommerce platform, make sure your platform can support the following B2B capabilities.
Access Controls, Roles, & Permissions
In B2B, each customer may be represented by different users with different job titles and responsibilities. That’s why it is important to ensure that users have access to only the information needed to perform their work and nothing more. Typically, there is always an admin user, who can create other customer users and grant permissions, buyers, and non-authorized users.
Buyers, as the most common category of users, can be further split to differentiate between purchase managers and junior buyers. In such a use case, a purchase manager may have full permissions to work with invoices, orders, tax codes, etc. while junior buyers may only access quotes, prices, and shopping lists.
Corporate Account Management
Unlike B2C, the B2B eCommerce user experience requires much more personalization. Often one B2B account can comprise of multiple users with unique roles and purchasing rights, especially when dealing with company sub-divisions or sub-unit.
As a unique B2B eCommerce feature, corporate account management should be able to address complex, hierarchical corporate account structures. Buyers can also configure their own corporate account management structure, add authorized users, and create purchasing rules regardless of whether your account structure has multiple businesses, teams, departments, offices, or branches.
Multiple Organizations, Websites & Stores
Many businesses manage multinational brands that operate across various countries, currencies, and tax regulations. Thus, scalability and localization capabilities of your B2B eCommerce solution may become a critical requirement for your business.
These features for B2B eCommerce are typically addressed by a B2B platform out of the box. For example, OroCommerce Enterprise Edition comes out-of-the-box with flexible and robust multi-website management capabilities that allow organizations to easily control multiple businesses from one central admin console. But if you build your custom eCommerce solution from scratch, then make sure you don’t overlook scalability requirements.
Content Management System
Having access to in-depth product information is one of the key requirements of B2B buyers for an eCommerce website. Because B2B buyers purchase items for pragmatic reasons, merchants will have to offer supplemental information to ensure the buyer knows what he or she is purchasing. Product descriptions, videos, certifications, marketing sheets – all this information may help you clearly display all the advantages of your products and address different questions of multiple decision makers in a preemptive manner.
Having CMS capabilities on your eCommerce platform enables marketing and merchandising teams to make updates to content and product pages without IT intervention further streamlining productivity.
Personalized B2B Catalog Management
Personalized B2B catalog management is probably the most distinct and well known among B2B eCommerce features. It enables sellers to customize product catalogs to specific corporations, divisions, business units, and even individual buyers or customers. Each group has access to its own catalog where purchasing managers are able to view content and purchase products.
Multiple Price Lists
Pricing in B2B eCommerce can be really complex. It may depend on the purchasing volume, pre-negotiated discounts, frequency of purchasing, and many other factors. It may be also calculated dynamically based on specific business rules (another useful feature for pricing).
At the bottom of it all is the ability to create and customize multiple price lists for each customer, company, or business unit authorized on your eCommerce website. It may get fairly complex since each price list can contain an unlimited number of price points, various tiers, and different currencies. Moreover, it is another challenge to keep those price lists in sync with your ERP system, which should be addressed with the proper B2B eCommerce solution.
Multiple Shopping Lists
Corporate buyers working on multiple projects, such as trade show displays, printed materials, or product/equipment for different business units, may want to manage and save multiple shopping lists in your B2B eCommerce website. This allows buyers to save shopping lists for future use and quickly purchase previously saved products.
Streamlined Buyer-Seller Interaction
However advanced a website may be, a B2B eCommerce website cannot offer a complete substitute for a salesperson. However, even when it comes to a negotiation process between the buyer and the seller, there are features for B2B eCommerce that can significantly streamline that kind of buyer-seller interaction.
For example, one way OroCommerce improves buyer-seller interactions is by providing buyers with an easy way to create and submit inquiries, purchase orders, and Request of Quotes (RFQs) electronically. Sellers are then able to easily respond to orders and quote requests on the same platform, thus facilitating an efficient negotiation process between the buyer and seller. Another example is the Buyer Assistance feature that enables your sales reps to make a purchase on behalf of the customer, thus ensuring a stress-free buying process for inexperienced or first-time online buyers.
Segmentation & Custom Reports
With a vast room for personalization and multiple pricing strategies, B2B eCommerce is the fertile ground for account-based marketing, segmentation, and customer behavior analytics. You need to be able to track key business KPIs and determine how they get affected by different marketing tactics, UX innovations, and new product offerings.
As an essential feature for B2B eCommerce analytics, your solution may include a customizable dashboard and reporting engine along with advanced segmentation capabilities to enable your marketing team to gain actionable insights into the customers’ data. Apart from tracking key business KPIs, it will help you understand your customers’ purchasing patterns, and send timely, targeted marketing campaigns.
Flexible Custom Workflows
When selecting a future-proof B2B eCommerce solution, it is important to consider the flexibility of your solution. An eCommerce website should never be stagnant and you will eventually be asked by your customers for many more features that improve the customer experience.
To provision for that, one keystone capability during your technical evaluation should be the ability to create an unlimited number of custom eCommerce workflows to support both buyer and seller-related processes. Such a flexible workflow engine would allow you to customize workflows like the checkout experience, order submission process, or auto-replenishment.
More Features for B2B eCommerce
You probably don’t need to have all the B2B eCommerce features in your platform from Day 1 but being flexible enough to deliver on customer feature requests is one of the greatest B2B features in itself. So, make sure your B2B eCommerce solution or platform can rise to the challenge whenever the time comes. As a frame of reference, consider what features OroCommerce provides to its users. Contact us if you think your business could benefit from these, too.