The global B2B eCommerce market, valued at USD 14.9 trillion in 2020, is over 5 times that of the B2C market. B2B sellers and purchasers find it easier to transact online than in person too, just as B2C businesses and buyers do.
B2B sales is entirely different from B2C sales, whether offline or online. B2B eCommerce and marketplace features need to be different from those for B2C. But how do you develop a B2B eCommerce solution for your organization? The first step is to select the B2B eCommerce platform on which to create the store. We’ve put together a guide on how to make that choice.
What is a B2B eCommerce platform?
The foundation of your eCommerce solution, your B2B online store is developed and hosted on a B2B eCommerce platform. These platforms offer great features like product and purchase management, searchability and scalability to make launching a custom online store easy.
B2B commerce is more complex than B2C, as there are implications of taxation, compliance, bulk pricing and product customization. While B2B eCommerce is fundamentally different from B2C, B2B buyers shop on B2C eCommerce websites as well and are used to online research, use of mobile touch-points, images, videos, testimonials and reviews. Buyers want more than the most suitable product at the lowest price – they want the best online experience.
One major difference between platforms is that some are on-prem, meaning that they are completely under your control, hosted in servers at your premises, completely customizable and secure. The other kind is cloud-based XaaS platforms, which offer ease of use, lower costs and faster development.
The right B2B eCommerce solution should be flexible, customizable, scalable, reliable, secure, user-friendly and mobile-responsive. Choose a B2B eCommerce platform that offers these benefits.
What features should your B2B eCommerce platform provide?
User experience is key to conversion. Just as with B2C, it’s important to equip B2B eCommerce sites with videos and product visualizations. The platform should allow you to customize the user interface to suit company branding, and to showcase product information content in all suitable formats. Ensure the site is responsive across devices.
High standards of security and privacy
The platform must deliver data privacy security against hacks and fraud of payment information and customer data. Ensure the platform protects your site with SSL certificates.
Strong product management
A single centralized repository of product information helps you manage the catalog and inventory. Confirm that your platform syncs with all your existing software, such as CRM, ERP, and POS systems. On the front of the online store, purchase and checkout should be easy, with multiple payment options, allowing users to save carts and repeat purchases.
Allow users to find what they need on the site, with configurable site search and navigation features like autocomplete, clickable search tags, voice search, related products, and comparison filters.
The complex B2B sales process frequently involves multiple decision-makers, price negotiations, and product customization. Your site should offer in-built features that promote decision-making and encourage purchase, such as automated and live customer support.
What are the benefits of using custom B2B eCommerce solutions?
By customizing your B2B online store, you can manage:
- bulk ordering, with pricing based on order volume
- product bundling
- shipping to multiple addresses
You can improve the buyer experience before, during and after purchase, with:
- filtered search and catalog navigation
- process assistance through automated customer support
- personalization through price segmentation, quote management and easy negotiation
How do you select the platform that’s best for you?
- How much coding knowledge does it need? Does your team have that expertise?
- Does the platform offer live 24×7 user support?
- How long would it take to develop the eCommerce site? Does it suit your timeline?
- Is the user interface completely customizable, and user-friendly?
- What features and tools do you require in the short, medium and long term? Does the platform offer the features you need in the short and medium term?
- Does the solution integrate with your existing tech?
- How much does it cost, in terms of upfront and maintenance costs in time, money and other resources?
- Should you opt for an on-prem or cloud solution?
Which are the top B2B eCommerce platforms?
This is a non-comprehensive list of platforms that you could use to build your online store. Do go through them to better understand the pros and cons of each platform.
An on-premise platform, Magento Commerce is completely customizable and offers total control over every aspect of your online store. It’s best for large businesses with both B2B and B2C clientele, as it provides good scalability.
BigCommerce has a low total cost of ownership, as it is built flexibly on a number of APIs. It’s easy to use for hybrid businesses with both B2B and B2C channels. It allows the development of full-fledged eCommerce stores with few tech hurdles.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC)
A multi-tenant cloud-based platform, SFCC provides high security and control over development. The level of internationalization customization offered by SFCC is almost as good as that of Magento, and it is best for mid-to-enterprise-size B2B companies.
Which is the best B2B eCommerce platform for almost all businesses?
Our answer: Magento Commerce
Magento Commerce is an enterprise-grade eCommerce platform offering customizability, self-hosting, or cloud-hosting, with a complete storefront and management modification potential. It was named the best open-source B2B eCommerce platform by The Forrester Wave. Customization becomes even easier with the integration of over 480 possible third-party extensions from the Magento Marketplace.
Magento provides excellent security features – it is PCI-certified as a Level 1 Solution Provider – and works for both B2C and B2B online stores, with the option of personalized buying experiences, quoting, and negotiations. It easily integrates with other backend systems to simplify ordering and purchasing across channels.
You can identify the most profitable customer groups across channels and growth opportunities with detailed reporting and analytics. Magento also supports comprehensive internationalization to support international sellers with high sales volume.
However, Magento development is complex and can be expensive. It is ideal for enterprise-level online stores with a large number of products and SKUs, not for small businesses. The issue of complexity can be resolved by working with an experienced Magento development service agency.
A few examples of Magento eCommerce websites
- graze shop – The Graze store, built on Magento Commerce, delivers 50% faster load times and seamless navigation
- Sightseeing Bus Tours | Hop-On Hop-Off | Big Bus Tours – Magento Commerce allowed Big Bus Tours to launch 18 websites that are mobile-first, full-responsive, content-rich
- Land Rover | Official Land Rover Merchandise Lifestyle Collection Online Store – With the Magento Commerce platform, Land Rover created an enhanced digital customer experience with simplified checkout
- https://www.paulsmith.com/ – Paul Smith used Magento Commerce to create custom product pages with all necessary features, including store finder and sizing guide
When selecting the platform you need, first, identify your top priority. If you need scalability, customizability, and security, opt for an open-source platform such as Magento Commerce. On the other hand, if your priority is a fast and low-cost launch, you may prefer a SaaS solution. Pick your platform based on the features we have listed here and on your business priorities within the selected category.
Ziffity offers professional Magento development services. We’d love to work with you to create a B2B online store with custom buying experiences, adding great value for your users. Reach out to our experts to get started on developing your B2B eCommerce store today.