Understanding the B2B Ecommerce PortalThe ecommerce portal is a unique feature of B2B ecommerce. While some B2C ecommerce sites provide a log-in area for returning customers that, at first blush, feels like a portal, there are some critical differences to the kinds of access and information provided on a B2B portal.

A successful B2B ecommerce portal is likely to provide:

  • Order history and status updates
  • Account-specific information
  • Online ordering featuring customer pricing
  • Sensitive product information

Order history and status updates.

In B2C ecommerce, when an individual consumer logs in, chances are good that they are able to view order status and order history, but not much more. B2B portals, on the other hand, provide the same information to customers, but at a much deeper level, often with the option to drill down into the information for analytical purposes or to access line item information. Additionally, B2B customers can access an ecommerce portal to view past orders, use historical orders to create new orders and interact with orders that haven’t shipped yet–allowing them to make changes on-the-fly.

Account-specific information.

After logging in, B2B customers are also able to view negotiated product pricing, saved replenishment lists, and location-specific product lists. B2B ecommerce portals often provide access to account-specific information such as credit status, invoices, available rebates, and funds available in cooperative accounts.

Online ordering featuring customer pricing.

In B2C ecommerce, the price on the screen is the price for anyone who wishes to make a purchase. In B2B ecommerce, there often isn’t pricing visible on the website. Why? Because there are different prices for different customers based on order volume, tenure as a partner, contract negotiations, and other criteria. Utilizing a secure B2B portal, customers are able to place orders using their contracted pricing.

Sensitive product information.

In B2B companies, a considerable amount of product information may be considered for customers only. This might include product specifications, performance data, how-to information, proprietary formulas, or other sensitive data. This information can easily be shared with partner organizations via the secure log-in on the portal.

Understanding how B2B ecommerce differs from the B2C model and why a secure portal is an essential ecommerce element is the first step for assuring B2B ecommerce success.