B2B eCommerce is growing. Forrester predicts that B2B eCommerce will reach $1.1 trillion and account for 12.1% of all B2B sales in the US by 2020. Driven by higher buyer expectations, business-to-business companies are making technological advances to improve their eCommerce sites. After all, it’s not only consumers that expect a streamlined online shopping experience.
Nevertheless, successful B2B eCommerce sites typically don’t run exactly like consumer shopping sites. B2B selling usually involves more complex processes, like pricing tiers, configurable product options, and special payment terms. Unfortunately, not all eCommerce platforms support these features well— sometimes leaving a merchant on their own to search for a plugin, an app, or an expensive customization.
Looking for an eCommerce platform for your B2B company? Beyond the basic commerce capabilities, here are some important features to look for:
Cloud-based & scalable. This should go without saying, but just in case, we’re going to say it: whatever eCommerce solution you select should be cloud based. You shouldn’t have to worry about the hosting or data infrastructure of your site. You shouldn’t have to worry about the ongoing expenses of purchasing and maintaining a server. And likewise, you shouldn’t have to worry about your site crashing because of a traffic spike. When our clients opt to work with us, we use AWS— we appreciate that it scales up or down based on demand with elastic load balancing.
PCI Compliance. PCI Compliance ensures that the customer data and payment information transmitted on your site is secure. Some eCommerce platforms provide it, while it’s the responsibility of the merchant with others. We recommend you save yourself the headache and worked with a PCI certified provider who takes care of it for you.
Payment Options. Credit card and Paypal may be a no-brainer. Beyond the basics, what payment options do you need? eCommerce platforms vary in their flexibility around payments. If term payments (like Net 15 or Net 30) or partial payments are a common practice for your business, look for a provider with flexible options built-in.
Integrations. Chances are there are business tools you’re using today that will need to integrate to your eCommerce site. The ideal B2B commerce platform has multiple integrations to other business tools. This indicates they’ve done the legwork to position themselves favorably with potential merchants, and don’t expect you to use only their tools.
Variety of Product Types. Unless your business sells strictly merchandise, it’s worthwhile to select a provider that will allow you to expand your offering beyond just physical goods. The sale of subscriptions, content access, event tickets, and even buyer-configured product bundles is not natively supported by every eCommerce platform. (We admit we’re a little biased in this regard. Read about the competitive advantage of Slatwall's Product Catalog.)
Advanced Configurability. B2B purchasing often requires complexities like customer hierarchies, sophisticated pricing tiers, purchase authorization rules, and approval workflows. A flexible, configurable platform is key.
Support. When your site goes down or something breaks, who are you going to contact? Often overlooked in the vetting process, the quality and accessibility of the support offered by the provider you chose may be the factor that determines your success.
Now that you know what features to look for, you can start to build your list of requirements. Start by downloading our guide: 7 Keys to a Successful B2B eCommerce Project Launch.
Slatwall Commerce is an open-source, enterprise level eCommerce platform developed by ten24 Digital Solutions. We specialize in B2B eCommerce implementations with complex requirements. Learn more about working with the Slatwall team.
This post first appeared on Slatwall Commerce's Blog on September 28, 2017 and has since been edited for accuracy.