4 Questions to Answer Before Choosing a B2B e-Commerce Platform
Choosing the right B2B e-commerce platform is a critical step in any organisation’s digital transformation. Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before making such a major decision.
1. Which strategy will best accomplish my business objectives?
First, you must define clear, achievable objectives and the best strategy to reach them.
Examples of achievable objectives:
- Increase revenues and sales
- Improve customer experience & satisfaction
- Increase customer reach
- Decrease operational costs
- Boost salespeople’s efficiency
Involve your staff and don’t hesitate to ask yourself apparently obvious questions. Why do you need an e-commerce platform? Do you even need one? How will it contribute to your bottom line? Which team is going to manage the platform? Should you outsource the whole thing? Do you need to hire or recruit new experts? Is it worth the investment? This will facilitate the process and objectify the whole venture: one must ask the essential questions in order to find the right answers.
2. What do customers expect from my e-commerce platform?
Your platform’s efficiency and ROI will greatly depend on its capacity to address the needs and expectations of your customers. Here are the key features it must offer:
B2B decision-makers will potentially use any existing hardware and software to search, compare and purchase the solutions they need. Your platform must provide the same user experience quality on all devices and applications, seamlessly switching from one to the other at any given moment of the user journey. Nowadays, the quality of user experience has become as important as that of products and services in the success of your business. More importantly, still, it makes the difference when equivalent solutions are offered by different competing brands.
- Customer-specific catalogue & pricing
Users of the digital age expect personalised experiences, with tailor-made offerings and customised pricing: it’s simply become standard. B2B e-commerce platforms should adapt prices according to each of your customer segments.
- Order Automation
Order automation is the most sought-after feature in e-commerce platforms. The integration of online catalogues with your customers’ back-end systems is essential to efficiently share the data necessary for the seamless automation of order management.
- Advanced Promotions & Discounts
Big purchases should result in big, customer-specific discounts. You must be able to assign discounts based on the needs of your users. Your platforms should offer features like “Maximum & Minimum Order Quantities”, “Percentage Discounts”, pricing options, etc. Implementing them directly into your B2B e-commerce prevents having to pay for external systems and applications.
- Alternative Payment Terms & Methods, Split Shipments, Account Hierarchies
It goes without saying that B2B customers expect advanced features from your platform, providing them with a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. This means flexible payment methods and shipping options to make a difference with the competition’s usually complex delivery processes via freight and air cargo, erratic tracking options, etc.
If you underestimate the importance of the user experience offered to B2B clients, expect mounting negative effects such as inefficiency, additional costs and customer frustration.
Emakina-Salesforce Commerce Cloud Program Director
3. What about integration and hosting?
Your platform must be expertly integrated into your existing digital ecosystem (CRM, ERP, etc.). In-house platforms provide more control over data but are considerably costlier than cloud-based software.
4. How do I choose my ideal B2B e-commerce partner?
Facing the countless B2B e-commerce platforms on the market, one mustn’t dispense with the expertise to make the right decision. These solutions demand specific requirements and have to fit seamlessly in your digital ecosystem. The best partner will accompany and support your business throughout its entire digital journey, from initiation to launch.