4 Key Questions to Ask When Selecting Your B2B e-Commerce PlatformDerya Akcakaya
Choosing the right B2B commerce platform for your businesses is a critical step of your digital journey. Ultimately, the solution you follow enables achieving objectives and fully implementing your business strategies. Here are the 4 key pointers to take into account:
1. What is my strategy and primary goal?
Strategy comes first. Particularly in a B2B setting, primarily setting overall-strategy and its respective goals comes before investing in an e-commerce solution.
Drawing a plan with an end-goal is crucial before moving to e-commerce. In this process, ask yourself some of the following questions: Why do I need an e-commerce platform? What advantages will my business gain? Is it manageable? Which teams/departments to assign? What are my following desired goals –
Examples of achievable desired goals:
- Increase revenues and sales
- Improve customer experience and satisfaction
- Grow customer reach
- Reduce administrative costs and support sales team
2. What are my desired features in an e-commerce platform?
The B2B setting is more complex than B2C’s, you should consider the needs of your B2B customers before choosing your solution. Here are some key features to inspect:
B2B decision makers operate various devices to search, compare and purchase solutions. Your platform should enable them to do so across all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop etc.). Enabling your customers to browse easily on your platform will save them a lot of time, and demonstrates to them how your business swiftly responds. Ultimately adding value to their experience across your platform.
- Customer Specific Catalog and Pricing
In today’s competitive market, every customer expects unique and subjective specifics from a personalized experience you have in store for them. Tailoring customer specific offerings, product pricing and experiences is key.
An optimized B2B e-commerce platform should enable you to set different base prices for any offering on your catalog, and then assign them to specific customer segments.
- Order Automation
Being one of the most researched features of e-commerce should tell you enough about its significance. With strong order management capabilities that integrate online catalogs with customer’s back-end systems, order data will be efficiently shared between your platform and the client’s.
- Advanced Promotions & Discounts
Big quantity purchases translate to customer specific discounts. You need to be able to assign discounts based on your customer needs. Features like Maximum & Minimum Order Quantities, Percentage Discounts and other pricing features should be included on your platform. Implementing them directly through your B2B e-commerce rids you the hassle of using external systems and applications.
- Alternative Payment Terms/Methods, Split Shipments, Account Hierarchies
It goes without saying that your B2B customers expect advanced features on your platform, allowing them to order easily and benefit from an optimized B2B ordering experience. To do so, you will need to provide them with flexible payment methods and types. The B2B shipment processes are usually complex with deliveries performed via freight and air cargo. Your e-commerce platform should support flexible shipping features.
If you underestimate the importance of the user experience you offer your B2B clients, you can expect mounting negative effects such as inefficiency, additional costs and customer frustration.
– Derya Akcakaya, Program Director Emakina – Salesforce Commerce Cloud
3. How to integrate and host the platform?
The solution you choose must be integrated with your CRM, ERP and perhaps a host of other systems your company works with. In-house platforms offer you more control over data, however they are considerably pricier than adopting cloud-based software.
4. How to choose the best B2B e-commerce partner?
With numerous B2B e-commerce platforms out there, expertise is mandatory when it comes to advantageous solution seeking. These solutions must meet set requirements and integrate seamlessly with your current processes (ERP & CRM).
A good partner is one that tracks and supports you throughout a full digital journey, from initiation to launch.