10 Capabilities Your B2B Ecommerce Platform Must Have Part 2Yesterday I started to tell you about the first five features that your B2B ecommerce platform needs to provide you to ensure success. Today, we are going to look at five more.

Here are five more features you need from a B2B ecommerce platform:

  1. More than one way to pay. Much like being able to offer different pricing schedules based on the customer logging in, a B2B ecommerce platform needs to be able to offer more than one way to pay—and I don’t just mean accepting more than one type of credit card. B2B organizations are used to paying in a variety of ways—via purchase order, line of credit, order authorization, dealer credit program, direct billing to a central location, and credit card—to name a few. Any B2B ecommerce platform that you choose must be able to accommodate a variety of options to ensure that your customer can easily pay using their organization’s preferred payment method.
  2. Catalog management strategies that match your business needs. No two B2B businesses are the same. Some have a large SKU population offering thousands of products in a variety of price ranges while others have only a handful of products with larger price tags. This makes it essential that your B2B ecommerce provider doesn’t use a “one size fits all” catalog management strategy. A business with a small number of products to sell will look anemic in a design that is built for a large number of SKUs. Likewise, an organization with thousands of SKUs is going to get bogged down in a design built to showcase a small product catalog, increasing the likelihood that a customer will get frustrated and abandon the site. Make sure that your ecommerce platform can accommodate your catalog in an appropriate way.
  3. The ability to easily update content. One of the beauties of ecommerce—and the digital world at large—is that content can readily be updated to reflect the most current changes to a product or service. Gone are the days of print materials with a limited shelf life. The challenge that digital content presents is finding someone to update it for you. Updating digital content can require, at minimum, a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, Flash and other programming languages. For maximum usability, make sure that your ecommerce platform uses a WYSIWYG or “what you see is what you get” editor and a user friendly user interface that allows those without programming experience to update your site’s content. This ensures that your site remains fresh—and doesn’t require paying a contractor or waiting for one of your IT staff to have time.
  4. Advanced merchandising functionality including cross-sells and up-sells. Too often B2B organizations view their proposed ecommerce sites as simply utilitarian. While it’s the goal of the site to secure orders online as quickly as possible, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on user experience. B2B organizations that employ techniques traditionally relegated to B2C ecommerce, such as cross-sells and up-sells, stand to grow their online sales numbers substantially.
  5. Promotions capability. If the B2B ecommerce platform you are considering doesn’t offer the option to create dynamic and robust sales promotions, look elsewhere. B2B companies are too quick to assume that they don’t need ecommerce promotional capability. But chances are good that nearly every B2B company offers some type of sale or year-end close out. Would such an effort benefit from the ability to create a target promotion around it? I thought so—make sure you ecommerce platform offers you the ability to offer sales, percentage discounts, coupons and the like to ensure long-term, continued success.

Choosing a B2B ecommerce platform doesn’t have to be hard for B2B organizations. The key is to ask the right questions during the exploration process and make sure that all of the necessary bases are covered before you sign on the dotted line.

To learn more about how to maximize your B2B ecommerce success, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success: Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.