Selecting the right B2B eCommerce Tool
Today’s leading B2B eCommerce websites and customer portals provide much more than the Amazon-like experience. They are powerful online tools designed to improve speed and accuracy, as well as make it easier for people to do their jobs. Basic tools like intuitive search are important, but B2B sites require many more complex capabilities like ability to manage complex pricing, quote workflows, advanced product configuration, branded micro-sites and even global inventory allocation. In the hands of your users, these tools become more of an enterprise solution which automates procurement functions between both B2B buyers and sellers.
Unfortunately, many B2C platforms and implementation partners claim that their B2C solution can handle the complexities of B2B transactions. Going this route is a sure-fire way to find your project heavily-customized, hard-to-upgrade, making compromises, and ultimately not the ideal experience for your buyers.
So how does one sift through the noise of companies promising B2B functionality on a B2C platform? Start with validating platforms against this short list of requirements which any strong B2B vendor should be able to demonstrate easily and without customization.
The top five differences between a B2C and B2B eCommerce platform:
- Customers – This is the most obvious difference. B2B companies have many different people, with different needs and roles. One size does not fit all. Can a user be assigned to multiple accounts? How about shipping out of different warehouses? Or multiple Ship-To and Bill-To combinations? Will pricing and availability update as you change these selections?
- Payments – B2C platforms are often credit card only out-of-the-box. B2B needs to provide the option for purchase orders, order approval options and budgeting workflows, payment on credit, and even the ability to check available credit.
- Products – B2B products are complex because they can range from simple consumable products to technical and highly configured products. It is not uncommon for products to have many variants, and they may require advanced quoting or custom configuration.
- Performance – Most companies don’t learn this until it’s too late. B2B sites often need to handle much larger SKU counts and order volumes than B2C sites, sometimes reaching into the hundreds-of-thousands of items, containing many attributes each. Couple this with the fact that product inventory across multiple warehouses changes frequently and needs to be accurately reflected to any and all customers who are utilizing the site, and you have a lot of data flowing back and forth at any given time.
- Search – All eCommerce sites need a great search but B2B often needs to personalize the search to each user type and even to the specific company ordering. Multiple product identifiers, attributes, measurements, and even customer-specific part numbers need to be able to be indexed and searched upon. The search experience should also be easy to tune on the backend, as well as easy to filter and refine by the customer.
To read more about the top five differentiators, and learn about the next five on our list including Multi-site, Check-out, Globalization, Integrations, and Developer Tools, download our new Executive Brief:
Selecting the Right Tool for B2B eCommerce