What to Consider when Setting Up a B2B e-Commerce Platform

With the rising popularity of e-commerce platforms, many business owners are capitalizing on the potential of the online marketplace.  There are so many B2B e-commerce examples available, and one would be spoilt for choice. A B2B platform is vital because customers start product searches online and require user-friendly interfaces. However, before spending your hard-earned money on setting up a platform,   there are certain things you need to consider.  We will explore this in more detail below.

What do you hope to achieve

Before you opt for a B2B e-commerce platform, you should have a well-thought-out process in place. Look at what you hope to accomplish with the platform; whether it is increasing awareness, increasing sales, managing inventory, among others. If you are not clear on what you hope to achieve, you will end up with a system that adds no value to your bottom line.

Is the platform right for your business?

Different platforms have different functionalities. What may work well for a B2C business may have no value to a B2B company. Take stock of your business and look into things like conversion rates, order values, revenue model, and what you expect in terms of ROI. Once you have a clear understanding of your business, you will be able to prioritize the most critical functions and will have the relevant information to help you choose the right e-commerce platform for you. Confirm that what you're signing up on meets the demands for your type of business. Do your research, and if possible talk to other store owners who use the platform. If you cannot get physical access to them, check what their reviews are.

How functional is the platform

B2B platforms have particular unique challenges. For instance, there are longer Cycles in the buying process. There is a need for budget approval. The item quantities the customer's orders are usually large, and you should expect recurring requests. A good platform should, therefore, be able to perform all the functions daily.

How responsive is the design

The B2B platform should be able to adapt to different devices.  With so many people on the go, there is a need to give them an option that can allow them to access your services anywhere.  You should be able to customize the platform to a mobile device because the use of such devices is on the rise.

Does it allow for self-service

Self-service will enable a customer to find information and resolve any issues quickly.  No client wants to keep on calling customer support any time there’s an issue. You should, therefore, ensure that your B2B platform allows for this functionality. 

The customer should be able to access all information including quotes approval, order tracking among others with is.

Does it have customer-specific pricing

A good platform should allow you to customize to a specific customer profile. Not all customer requests are the same, and you should be able to handle the different demands in the shortest time possible. Different platforms will allow you to set some specific pricing for the various customers.

Does it offer payment options

Due to the nature of the transactions which involve bulk purchases, a B2B business owner needs to have a platform that offers flexible payment options. The payment options could include partial payments, or the ability to handle several invoices at a go.

How is the product catalog management

Many B2B business owners have a problem with product catalog management. When you are dealing with many different products, it can become a challenge. You need to find a way to normalize data and make it ready for listing on a website. The platform should offer you different apps which will make it easy for you to handle this particular task.

How is the user experience

When choosing a B2B platform put you in the customer's shoes and see what kind of experience they have when they're using your e-commerce platform. The information you have should be relevant and up-to-date. Use product descriptions and pictures so that your customers are clear about what you're selling to them.

Do you have branding on the site

For a business-to-business platform, your branding should stand out.  Let it have aesthetic appeal, be consistent and communicate the right message. Branding is essential for building an emotional connection with the customers as well as establishing that they can trust your brand.

Does it allow for integration with your existing software

When you sign on to an e-platform, it does not mean that you disregard what you were previously using. Look for one that allows for integration with your existing software. The aim of the e-commerce platform should be to enhance and not replace what you have.

Are you able to restrict access

B2B Commerce is not like B2C where you allow access to anyone who happens to come by your online store.  Sometimes you may want to restrict access to only those who have registered with you.  You may in some cases want to keep pricing information away from specific customers.

Your e-commerce platform should allow password protected website functionality so that anyone who is your side has to have a password.

Can you customers order in bulk

B2B customers tend to buy in bulk, and a platform that allows for wholesale bulk orders would work well.  There are apps like bulk order forms that make it easy for the clients to make their orders quickly and efficiently.

CONCLUSION

Setting up a B2B e-commerce platform can transform your business operations, and help you increase your revenue. The ability to take inventory, check quotes, handle bulk orders, do the invoicing, track the shipping and monitor that the goods reach the customer, is very important to a B2B business. However, before you go shopping for one, understand what your business and clients need.  There is no point in signing up to a platform if it adds no value to your business.

You can also read about online business in the UK: https://www.shopify.co.uk/plus/solutions/b2b-ecommerce

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