B2B companies have become increasingly interested in the eCommerce industry, and it involves building and growing frictionless sites to meet customer needs. To do so, they look for B2B eCommerce software development companies that deliver best-of-breed solutions.
There are probably still many companies that ask themselves, “why do I need a B2B store?” or “is eCommerce B2B for me?”.
A practical and well-organized website will enable online businesses to leverage the satisfaction of consumers and streamline the buying process for merchants. But unfortunately, even experienced entrepreneurs are faced with various challenges while developing B2B eCommerce websites.
It seems that the most important catalyst of change that has taken place in the B2B area was the coronavirus pandemic. It is a topic that pops up everywhere, but omitting it would fake the full picture. Many companies would be doing great today if they could sell online a few years earlier. As the “traditional” model, in which salespeople traveled around customers or customers came to the company, froze for some time – it was impossible to meet each other or the branches were simply closed.
For such companies, the B2B platform has become a very important sales channel that can supplement (or in some cases even replace) the traditional channel.
The B2B model often consists of more complex (compared to B2C) sales operations, sales channels, and different lines of products. Our blog is designed to provide the basis and guidance for implementing B2B platforms that meet business requirements. But, first, let’s see how to approach the B2B eCommerce website development process.
B2B eCommerce development – what should you know?
Define your implementation goals and strategy
Each project should start with setting its goals (preceded by in-depth expertise) and writing them down in the company’s long-term vision. Using an appropriate methodology, breaking down goals over time, and comparing them with the company’s mission and vision is crucial for successful implementation.
Analyze the market
As important as defining goals is to define the company’s current position on the market as objectively as possible and the processes that take place internally. It involves answering the following questions:
- Where is your company today?
- Is eCommerce popular in your industry?
- Are your competitors already selling online?
- Do you have any role models to follow?
The ability to answer those questions may give you a picture of your competitors, possible benefits, and threats.
Determine the B2B platform requirements
After setting your goals, analyzing your company’s position in the market, and being aware of potential threats, it’s time to define your technology requirements. It is critical to prioritize the actual needs of the business. Extensive analytics and understanding of your business are needed.
Prepare a list of the functions you will need in your system.
Defining, designing, and commissioning the system in the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) version, a product with minimal functionality, is one of the most important successful components of eCommerce projects. Waiting for the development of the final version has a significant impact on the time-to-value parameter, which is the time you need to achieve benefits from the investment.
Integrations are one of the most significant elements of the B2B eCommerce portal development. Properly prepared are the key elements to ensuring that the entire sales process is smooth and automatic. This effort pays off in more control over the service and lets you focus on your clients.
Build a team
Successful implementation of the eCommerce platform requires a combination of appropriate business and technological competencies. It is equally important to appoint people responsible for coordinating work and enforcement deadlines as well as verification of the set goals.
Plan your budget
The price of customized B2B eCommerce development services may vary and depend on many factors, so you should know how much money you can spend on B2B eCommerce platform development.
- How much will the platform/B2B eCommerce web development cost?
- What will be the cost of its implementation and subsequent maintenance?
- Will the implementation bring the expected financial benefits?
These are just a few of the many questions that should be asked at this stage.
Choose a technology and B2B eCommerce development agency
There are many different forms of collaboration and software delivery methods. It is crucial to consider all the benefits and drawbacks of each model, taking into account business, technological and financial aspects in parallel. Many agencies offer B2B eCommerce development services, so it is crucial to choose the one that convinces you the most and has the right experience (uses best programming practices, cares about data, educates you, etc.) to save your time and money.
Run the first version of the system
Many of the problems and challenges will emerge with time as your offers develop and you will acquire new customers. Monitoring the most important aspects of technology and business is crucial to your long-term success.
You may create a test environment accessible to limited people that allows them to connect and e.g. make a purchase. Remember that each visitor will use the platform differently, on a different device or browser, so let them be your first critics. You will surely (after correcting any mistakes) be reflected in the higher traffic later.
Monitor and improve
The process of improving the system begins with its launch. Then, dynamically changing customer expectations, new technologies, and the emerging competition force suppliers to constantly implement improvements and correct the chosen direction.
The best B2B eCommerce solution
The truth is, there is no perfect platform for your eCommerce B2B site, but you can choose the one that comes closest to that ideal. You will have to adjust the software more or less to fit your business processes and goals. So, before deciding on a specific solution, contact each of the vendors on your list, request a demo, ask about delivering process, and make sure you are able to customize and scale the platform.
We offer two solutions for B2B eCommerce website development services; both are Symfony-based:
Must-have features of a B2B eCommerce site
A B2B online store should have special functions that automate the purchasing process for companies. It means that your B2B eCommerce solution needs to have specific features. Make sure the B2B eCommerce platform you choose has the following features:
Easily order products in bulk
B2B eCommerce software should offer a convenient interface for mass ordering products.
Imagine this: you need to add 50 TVs and 20 laptops – each from another category to 3 different types to your cart. If the store does not offer a convenient interface for this, you will spend hours just filling the cart. Nobody likes wasting their time, especially people in business.
Organizations inside the eCommerce B2B store
Usually, the purchasing process in companies involves more than one person. Therefore, you need a function that allows you to unite users in organizations. In this way, the organization’s owner could add more users to the organization in the store: managers, marketers, and accountants. Everyone can work on one account as different users.
Flexible pricing tools
B2B eCommerce should support user groups with different price lists, which depend e.g. on how much the buyer has already spent on your store. Companies usually buy a large number of products at once and buy them regularly. It is important to offer buyers volume discounts and individual discounts based on their tiers.
Lots of storefronts
If you intend to sell to both businesses and individuals, the multi-store feature is essential in your online store. You should be able to independently configure your storefronts as if you were running several stores.
Integrations with third-party services
Modern CRM, ERP, accounting, and analytical services can significantly improve your business results. Make sure your future B2B eCommerce platform has a powerful API and integrates with third-party business services.
What if your business regularly buys the same products from you? Don’t make them out of your order every time they shop on your eCommerce site. The business should be able to re-order the same products with the same number of items in one click.
Some entrepreneurs are simply not used to buying products for their businesses via the web store interface. Usually, they call and order by phone. In such cases, your manager should be able to create an order in the admin panel. And it is important that he can do it quickly by talking to the client on the phone.
Looking for B2B eCommerce app development?
Close the store for unauthorized users
You should be able to hide the catalog from prying eyes and check each registered buyer manually. This will protect you from the nefarious actions of your competitors and strengthen the moderation of new buyers.
Optimizing websites for mobile
Today, business customers want to have access to the offer at any time and from any device. It is the basic condition for operating in the B2B eCommerce market. Therefore, a significant technological advantage of this solution in the business model is the availability of our website both via desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.
It is also worth paying attention to the issues of popular operating systems, as well as adjusting the operation of the website to smartphones. Customers can check product availability and make last-minute purchases, especially during periods such as the end of the quarter and the end of the financial year. It’s good that, in moments of intense work and short deadlines, they do not have problems with access to your platform due to technological errors.
B2B eCommerce development – Know your target customers
There are many marketing channels that can be used to reach your customers. The most important thing will be to use the right ones. How do you know which to use?
Here, the most important will be the target group to which your products are directed. It should be described as well as possible; creating so-called personas can help. Such a persona should be assigned as many traits as possible. Thanks to this, it will be much easier to reach your customers.
The channels that can be useful in sales will largely be the same as in the case of B2C sales. Social media is always a great way to sell. For business, LinkedIn will be the best social media medium. In addition, of course, positioning or Google Ads are activities that work well in almost every industry.
However, other ways are also a good idea for getting leads. Any webinars or training can also be a great idea when it comes to promoting your brand and reaching new people with your offer. Facebook groups work well as a place where you can show your company as a specialist in some field.
In the case of B2C sales, direct contact with the customer takes place much less frequently than in B2B. That is why it is so important that the business client always knows that he has the opportunity to be contacted in some way. The forms of contact are both a chat on the website or an email and a classic telephone. In the case of B2B, you have to be an even greater specialist in your field. The questions that such customers will ask will be even more inquisitive and professional than in the case of ordinary customers.
How to choose the right B2B eCommerce platform
Choosing the right B2B Commerce platform for your business takes time and research. It’s an investment in your business. Your platform should help you achieve your short-term and long-term strategy. Consider strategies on how you can make your B2B more compelling for buyers to visit as part of their regular workflow.
Having a business in mind, we provide a Vision-to-plan eCommerce Workshops – a comprehensive service that involves collecting requirements and matching appropriate technologies for them (in this case – the right B2B eCommerce platform).
If you are planning to set up a B2B eCommerce platform, contact us.