14 Tips for choosing the best B2B e-commerce platform

For many manufacturers, wholesalers, and other merchants whose clients are other businesses, B2B e-commerce platforms have become the norm. With many of the B2B customers being millennials who want to seal their deals online, all things point towards B2B e-commerce. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of online business are unrivaled, and the online B2B market is expected to generate sales worth $6.7 trillion.

To get a chunk of this lucrative revenue, you need to start by selecting the best B2B e-commerce platform. There are several qualities to look for while making a B2B e-commerce platform comparison to choose the best. Here are some tips to set you off in the right direction:

Cost

Different B2B e-commerce software charge different fees for their services with most of them having tiered pricing plans or quote-based charges. It is crucial that you carry out thorough research into the fees charged by different e-commerce providers, in addition to obtaining clear explanations for what you are paying for. You need to consider the added cost of third-party plug-ins, transaction fees, sales tax, and other charges you might have to incur.

Mobile-readiness

B2B customers also use smart devices to access online stores, and your e-commerce software should provide a site that is readily navigable on mobile browsers. Your clients should be able to view your products’ images and prices then shop using their mobile devices.

Scalability

Your B2B online business will undoubtedly grow, and it is crucial that you select a platform that will provide for the needs of a fast-growing company. As your business grows, your website will have spikes in traffic, you will handle more orders, and you will manage larger volumes of inventory. Your online store should be able to maintain a 99.9% uptime despite the increased demands.

Analytics

One significant advantage of having an online store is the access to analytics and statistics regarding consumer’s preferences, site visitor’s behavior, transaction metrics, and other crucial information for better decision making. Select an e-commerce platform with advanced analytics and report generation features.

SEO

To get customers to view your excellent products, you will need a site optimized for search engines. You should seek to be ranked on the first page of search results to increase your chances of being spotted by your visitors. Your e-commerce platform should have tools to help make your site SEO-friendly.

Multi-channel selling

Your e-commerce platform should enable you to sell your products on different channels, such as major social networks. This way, you can interact with as many customers as possible, improve sales, and make the most of your site. Also, look for a platform that consolidates sales from all channels to one central dashboard, on which you can track and manage them.

Personalization

Now B2B clients are demanding to have a personalized experience in their business dealings. You should be able to grant each client what they need for a better experience and chance at a repeat sale. Choose a B2B e-commerce platform that has features like industry segmentation and customer categorization that will help you provide more specific services to your clients.

Marketing options

The key to a successful business is an aggressive digital marketing campaign. Settle for an e-commerce platform that lets you generate coupons, promo codes and gift cards for your customers. Also, ask for e-mail and social media marketing features.

Self-service portals

B2B buyers need to be able to manage their accounts and solve problems themselves. Choose an e-commerce platform that gives you access to functional self-service portals on which your clients can track their orders, delivery options, and charges, and quote approval.

Customer-specific pricing

In B2B e-commerce, your clients may have different needs from your shop, and you should be able to provide catalogs, prices, and invoices for each one, based on their requirements.

Payment options

Unlike B2C where clients buy in small quantities, B2B customers buy in bulk, which means that they need a wide array of payment gateways and options. Find a B2B e-commerce platform that allows you to process flexible payments like partial payments, the payment of several invoices and credit authorization.

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Type of E-Commerce platform

There are two types of e-commerce software; software as a Service (SaaS) which is hosted on the cloud and subscribed to, and On-Premise software, which is installed in your server.

SaaS is the most popular option as it is inexpensive, convenient, scalable and easy to use. With SaaS platforms like Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, and 3dCart, you pay your subscription, and in less than twenty minutes, you can have your shop up and running.

Moreover, you need not worry about software updates, as the e-commerce platform provider handles those and deploys them centrally. Your subscription cost caters for upgrades, maintenance, and customer service. However, this software offers you limited functionality; you cannot fully customize your site and only use pre-designed themes and plugins.

On-premise software like Magento and OroCommerce are often robust options that allow you to design your B2B online store from scratch. You can customize your website any way you wish, but these options are quite complex. You would need to have extensive tech expertise to install, configure and customize your website with these platforms.

PCI compliant

The e-commerce platform you choose should be PCI-compliant, which essentially means that your clients will be safe while making online payments with their cards. Most SaaS services will have security features such as SSL certificates by default, but with an open-source solution, you would have to seek these features yourself.

Integrations

Integrations allow you to increase the functionality of your store to give your buyers a better experience. With B2B online stores, your e-commerce platform should enable you to blend in your ERP, POS and supplier databases for easy data syncing. Again, consider finding a platform that lets you automate your inventory management, and order fulfillment to avoid the errors that come with handling them manually.

Conclusion:

As is with B2C, when choosing an e-commerce platform, focus on your customers’ needs. Ensure that the B2B e-commerce platform you choose gives your customers the best possible experience from the website’s visit to shipping and receiving your products. This way, your brand will develop and flourish.