In a world that was once dominated by traditional offline transactions, the business-to-business (B2B) landscape is now embracing a profound shift towards online commerce.
The rise of technology and the rapid growth of the B2B ecommerce market have reshaped the way businesses interact, trade and thrive in the digital age. By 2030, the global B2B ecommerce market is projected to grow by around 20%, and ecommerce platforms will play a huge role in accelerating this growth.
But with so many ecommerce platforms out there these days, how do you know which one is best for B2B transactions?
Don’t worry, in this guide we’ll explore what makes a good B2B ecommerce platform and the kind of features you should expect to get.
What exactly is B2B ecommerce?
B2B ecommerce, short for business-to-business ecommerce, refers to the online buying and selling of goods and services between businesses. It encompasses digital transactions and interactions that occur exclusively within the B2B realm, catering to the specific needs of businesses rather than individual consumers.
Unlike B2C (business-to-consumer) ecommerce, which focuses on selling directly to end consumers, B2B ecommerce usually involves selling items in bulk at wholesale prices. Platforms that facilitate B2B ecommerce will come with features to make this process as simple as possible for both the buyer and the seller.
Choosing the best B2B ecommerce platform
Numerous ecommerce platforms now offer B2B functionality to let traders buy wholesale items from your website.
Choosing the right platform depends on a variety of factors, but the following are some general things you should look for when deciding.
1. Platform Features and Functionality
Not all ecommerce platforms offer dedicated B2B functionality, so when you come to choose one, it’s crucial to consider the features and functionality it offers for B2B sales.
To help you out, here is a list of ecommerce platforms that have B2B features, either native to the platform or available as a downloadable plugin/app.
B2B ecommerce platforms:
- Shopify Plus
- NetSuite Commerce
- Adobe Commerce
- TrueCommerce Netalogue
- B2B Commerce Cloud
Look for a platform that provides essential B2B features, such as bulk ordering capabilities, custom pricing options and dedicated categories for trade buyers. These features enable B2B buyers to efficiently browse your store and make purchases with the correct prices in place for trade customers. Remember, when a customer lands on your website, you want it to be as easy as possible for them to buy items in bulk, so utilising a platform with dedicated B2B features is a must for B2B businesses looking to provide a seamless experience for customers.
Additionally, it's important to select a B2B ecommerce platform that offers scalability and flexibility to meet the evolving needs and growth of your business. If you're expected to grow in the near future, ensure that your chosen platform does not impose revenue limits. It's common to see revenue limits set depending on the price plan you're on, so in most cases it'll mean signing up to a more expensive package. Check your providers price plans to make sure there will be no issue when you come to scale up.
By opting for a platform that allows seamless scalability, you can confidently accommodate business growth and adapt to changing market demands without facing unnecessary constraints.
2. User experience and interface
When it comes to B2B ecommerce, both sellers and buyers have specific needs and expectations from a platform. Let's explore what each party requires for a successful B2B transaction.
Sellers need an ecommerce platform that provides robust features and functionality tailored to B2B sales. This includes capabilities such as options for bulk ordering, custom pricing and dedicated categories for trade buyers. These features enable sellers to efficiently showcase their products, manage pricing for different customer segments and offer a seamless purchasing experience for their B2B customers.
Buyers, on the other hand, expect a user-friendly website and an intuitive navigation experience. A B2B ecommerce platform should prioritise responsive design and mobile optimisation to cater to the increasing number of buyers using mobile devices. May ecommerce platforms now have responsive themes, which means buyers can make purchases conveniently from any device.
Buyers also expect features that make browsing easier. For example, robust search functionality and advanced filtering options are important for letting buyers quickly locate and evaluate products. These features save buyers valuable time and enhance their overall experience on the website.
By considering the needs of both sellers and buyers, a comprehensive B2B ecommerce platform can provide the necessary tools and features to facilitate successful transactions and foster long-term business relationships.
3. Integrations and customisation capabilities
Integration and customisation capabilities play a crucial role in the effectiveness of a B2B ecommerce platform. Here are the key aspects to consider:
Integration with Business Systems
A robust B2B ecommerce platform should seamlessly integrate with existing business systems, such as inventory management, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and order fulfilment systems. These days, however, it's common to see ecommerce platforms that operate as all of the above under one solution, so you won't need to worry about integrating existing systems with your ecommerce platform.
API and App Marketplace
Look for a platform that offers a robust API (Application Programming Interface) and an extensive app marketplace. This allows sellers to extend the functionality of their B2B ecommerce platform by integrating third-party applications or developing custom solutions to meet specific business requirements. Installing additional apps enables sellers to tailor the platform to their unique needs and provide a personalised experience to their B2B customers.
An effective B2B ecommerce platform should support multichannel selling to reach customers across various touchpoints. This includes integrations with popular marketplaces, social media platforms and other online sales channels. A seamless multichannel selling strategy lets sellers reach wider audiences, drive more sales and enhance the overall visibility of their brand.
Local and International Commerce
If your B2B business operates globally or has plans to expand internationally, it's important to choose a platform that has both local and international capabilities. This includes features like multiple language support, multi-currency options and compliance with regional regulations. By supporting sales both locally and internationally, your chosen ecommerce platform could help propel your brand into global success.
4. Streamlined Payments and B2B Financing Options
Efficient payment processing is a crucial aspect of B2B ecommerce. When selecting a B2B ecommerce platform, consider the following factors related to payments:
Secure and Reliable Payment Gateway
Look for a platform that integrates with trusted and secure payment gateways. These gateways should support a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, bank transfers and alternative payment options. By offering a wide range of payment choices, you can cater to the preferences of different B2B buyers and enhance their purchasing experience.
Buy Now, Pay Later Options
In addition to traditional payment methods, offering B2B financing options can be a game-changer for both sellers and buyers. B2B Buy Now, Pay Later solutions like Biller can help reduce cart abandonment, increase checkout conversion, and provide customers with extended credit terms. This is particularly beneficial for larger volume purchases and new merchants who may be placing their first bulk order. By offering B2B financing, you can provide flexibility and convenience to buyers while ensuring timely payment and reducing the risk of late invoices.
5. Robust Analytics and Reporting Capabilities
To effectively measure the performance of your B2B ecommerce operations and make data-driven decisions, it's essential to choose a platform that offers robust analytics and reporting capabilities.
Comprehensive Data Insights
Look for a platform that provides in-depth data insights, such as sales trends, customer behavior and order patterns. These insights can help you understand your customers' preferences, identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling and optimize your product offerings. By having access to comprehensive data, you can make informed business decisions and tailor your strategies to maximize sales and customer satisfaction.
Ensure that the platform offers customizable reporting features, allowing you to generate reports specific to your business needs. Whether it's sales reports, inventory reports or customer segmentation reports, the ability to customize and generate reports based on your unique requirements is invaluable. Customisable reports enable you to track key performance indicators, monitor the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and evaluate the success of your B2B ecommerce operations.
Real-time analytics is essential for staying agile in a competitive market. Look for a platform that provides real-time reporting, allowing you to monitor your website's performance, track conversions and identify any issues or opportunities as they happen. Real-time analytics empower you to make immediate adjustments and optimizations, ensuring that you stay ahead of the curve and deliver a seamless experience to your B2B customers.
Integration with Analytics Tools
Consider whether the platform seamlessly integrates with popular analytics tools like Google Analytics. Integration with external analytics tools allows you to leverage additional features, insights and reporting capabilities that are specific to your preferred analytics solution. This integration enables you to have a holistic view of your B2B ecommerce performance and leverage advanced analytics features to drive continuous improvement.
By choosing a B2B ecommerce platform with robust analytics and reporting capabilities, you can gain valuable insights into your business, optimise your strategies and make data-driven decisions that propel your B2B operations forward.
In conclusion, choosing the best B2B ecommerce platform requires careful consideration of platform features, user experience, integrations, payment options and analytics capabilities.
By selecting a platform that caters to the specific needs of sellers and buyers, offers scalability and flexibility, integrates with business systems, supports multichannel selling and provides streamlined payment options and robust analytics, you can create a seamless and successful B2B ecommerce experience.
Remember, investing time and effort in finding the right platform is an investment in the growth and prosperity of your B2B business.