When you hear the word “eCommerce”, what sort of businesses come to mind?
Do you think about those glitzy online stores that sell consumer products like clothes, groceries, and candy?
If so, then we don’t blame you. Ecommerce has certainly made a name for itself in the niche of consumer products; which clearly implies that B2C stores are dominating the numbers game in the eCommerce industry.
But while the quantity of eCommerce stores is huge, it’s business-to-business (B2B) stores that are generating real revenue for the industry.
Why? Because first and foremost, B2B stores are the ones supplying consumer products to B2C stores for distribution. Secondly, they serve a wider market with higher stakes. For example, they’re selling 1000 headphones at once to a distributor rather than catering to a single headphone for a consumer.
Because of the complexities involved in the B2B trade; store owners require a platform that is able to handle such complexities.
If you’re a store owner looking for such a platform but are not sure about where to begin, then here are nine major features you should look for an eCommerce platform for B2B.
Here are the 9 Key Features that make a Powerful B2B Ecommerce Platform
Customer Grouping and ProfilesIn the B2C world, all customers are considered equal since the number of products they’re buying is smaller in quantity. An opposite case applies to the B2B world; where the stakes are higher, and the prices for orders generally vary from customer to customer.
To facilitate the differences between orders, B2B companies should opt for a platform that allows them to segment their customers into groups and profiles. In turn, those profiles should be able to set minimum order requirements, customized pricing, and run profile-specific promotional content.
The grouping functionality should be able to segment your B2B customers based on the following profiles. Some of which include:
– Product quantity
– Frequency of reorders
– Geographical location
– Catalog preferences
The main goal of this segmentation is to optimize their shopping cart experience – showing them fine-tuned catalogs tailored to their specific purchasing niche.
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Custom Pricing and CatalogsWhile segmenting your customers into specific groups or categories can be very useful when you’re personalizing the shopping experience, there will be times when these customers are going to demand special promotions and pricing for their purchases.
Setting different prices for particular products and then assigning them to groups should be a core function of any B2B eCommerce platform. It would also empower your customers to fulfill their orders directly on the website rather than your representatives reaching out to them via phone or email, which, in and of itself, is a time-consuming process.
After custom pricing, comes the customer-specific catalog functionality. Custom catalogs allow you to customize the products you want to display to your customer groups – allowing you to personalize the shopping experience even further.
Bulk Order DiscountsMost B2B products are bought in bulk quantities; in the form of packets, cases, and cartons. While that may be the case, you would still ideally want to offer discounted pricing to users on their bulk orders. Your eCommerce platform, in turn, should be able to accommodate it all by offering them the ordering quantities for which they can avail those discounts.
If your eCommerce platform can handle a variety of customer groups and pricing levels, then it should also support different levels for discounts depending on the client.
Restricted AccessIn many cases you’ll want to restrict access to your website, allowing only pre-registered clients to access products and content.
Look for built-in functionality in your eCommerce platform to set up an entire password-protected website, requiring customers to register before they can gain access to it.
Other than that, your platform should support you when you intend to hide the price of a particular product, showing it to only registered users on your site.
Order Quantity SettingsPerhaps the most common B2B feature is the ability to place a limit on order quantities. This implies that if the customer is unable to reach the minimum order quantity required for a certain product, then they cannot place the order.
To complete an order, customers should specify:
– Their order amount, which should meet user requirements.
– The minimum quantity of the product being ordered.
– The quantities for products sold in cartons, or cases.
Marketing ToolsMarketing tools are an essential business concern when it comes to staying ahead of the B2B competition. Your eCommerce store should come equipped with a variety of different tools to help acquire more customers, convert them, and then retarget those customers to purchase again.
Your tools need to be equipped with social media tools that help you market your products over there.
While there are plenty of marketing strategies you can use to bring in new customers, perhaps the most important of all is having quality content on your site that adds value to your products.
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Wholesale Bulk Order FormIn your B2B store, you might have customers who purchase the same products from you every month, or when their own stock runs out. To purchase the same products again, and making them go through each individual product page to order them seems like a tedious task.
To solve that, your eCommerce platform should come equipped with a bulk order form that allows your customer to order products directly from the form instead of going through each individual product page.
The usual bulk order workflow allows your customer to input the SKU or name of the products in the form, enter their quantity, add them to cart, and then place the order.
It is one of the most useful tools in streamlining the customer journey and to eliminate the extra steps required to complete a purchase.
If you’re a WooCommerce B2B user, you can use a plugin like Quick Order for WooCommerce to integrate a bulk order form on your store.
Ability to Reorder Previously Purchased ProductsApart from the bulk order form, you can also save your customers’ time with a one-click reorder option on their Account page. It allows them to reorder products directly from the page instead of ordering them again.
Flexible Payment OptionsThe B2B owner-customer relationship is a bit different as compared to B2C eCommerce. In this industry, you develop a special relationship with them and it is not necessary that every customer payment is made through a payment gateway (PayPal, Apruve, etc).
To accommodate your B2B payments, you need to integrate offline payment options like:
– Credit terms (Net 30, 60, or 90).
– Corporate accounts.
– Payments through checks.
– Purchasing on credit.
From this, it should be clear that your B2B platform should be built to accommodate both offline and online payment systems in order to make specific payments available to your varied customer base.
It is important to note that when you’re going digital with your B2B business; your company would have to make some changes. The first phase would be to think of your customer relationship efforts in a different manner and choose a platform that you feel best caters to their needs.
Hopefully, this article should provide you with the basic knowledge of where you need to start and what are some of the basic things you need to look for in an eCommerce platform.
Interested in setting up your B2B store? Well, you might find Codup.co’s B2B eCommerce platform development solutions to your liking.
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