A B2B e-commerce platform should be able to provide customers with a seamless experience in an effort of boosting your online brand. It is very key in determining the experience that your customers will be getting. For that reason, one should assess the platform choice before settling on it for their business. To be successful, the focus should be on the customer and the experiences that come with making such a choice. What this type of platform should do is to power your brand and make it ready for scalable, lasting growth. Failure to do so, the opposite can happen. Here are important considerations that you should make when choosing a B2B ecommerce platform based on their function and type of platform offered.
Assessing the Functional Aspects
There are some requirements and complexities that must be met for a B2B business to enable them to sell to other businesses. For that reason, the B2B platform should enhance these aspects. Important considerations include:
- Responsiveness in Design. Customers shopping online will do that from various devices. They may want to access information about products and their prices on mobile platforms such as on tablets and phones and then complete the buying from a PC. For that reason, the platform of your choice should be able to get this type of buyer a great experience on all devices. It is therefore important to make sure that the platform should allow the web-content to render properly on the different devices. Ideally, buyers should have an easy time browsing and completing their purchases.
- Self-Service Capabilities. Prospects should be able to gather enough information to help them in making decisions. That means the e-commerce experience should include having the ability to enable customers to track their orders, find shipping details, approve quotes and manage their information whenever they need to do so.
- Custom Pricing Capabilities for Customers. A good B2B e-commerce service should be in a position to provide specific pricing for customers as well as the items for sales. Price should be able to vary based on the type of customer. That means that the platform should be able to list various prices for different customers.
- Options for Payment Available. B2B business engagements are quite different from B2C operations. Businesses basically buy big orders that may be recurring. For that reason, there should be flexible payment options on the platform. Customers should be able to get different payment options for most of their invoices.
Basic E-commerce Platform Requirements to Consider
There are various types of platforms to choose for a B2B e-commerce website. There are those that are cloud-based and those that are hosted. Other aspects include the ability to customize, security, PCI compliance, maintenance and cost implications. Here is what all these entail:
- Hosting Options. There are cloud-based and On-Premise options to choose from. On-premise platforms require software installations on-site, which requires you to source for maintenance services for the servers on your own. Cloud-based options have hosting services through the providers. As long as you have internet connections, you will be able to access your website from anywhere. If your operations don’t allow you to do maintenance on your own which can be tasking, you would rather take the cloud-based option.
- PCI Security. E-commerce sellers must be PCI compliant. This means that you are offering protection to customers as they make payments using their cards. Some platforms especially the cloud-based options could offer these services but others will leave it as your responsibility. All payment gateways should meet the set industry standards. Therefore, you must make sure that you know the working of the PCI compliance.
- Assessing cost implications. Definitely hosted solutions will attract additional costs. However, you should be able to assess that against the benefits that come with that option. At the end of the day, you should be able to make a cost-effective choice that works for you. If you have an in-house IT team that can do the job perfectly, then you can go for in-house hosting operations and maintenance. In a scenario where you don’t have such a capability, it would be better to go for a fully-hosted cloud-based option.
There are a number of factors that come into play when choosing a B2B e-commerce platform as highlighted in here. The most important of all is to make sure that the platform can easily integrate with all of your other systems. That means that both your offline and online channels work in a harmonious manner. All these efforts should amount to a great customer experience.