The current Business to Business vertical is on a steep rise and more importantly, the way merchants look at the business has also changed. B2B used to be an extension of B2C (Business to Customers). But now, small to medium and medium to large size organizations understand the importance of having B2B and B2C as standalone business models which were once followed only by e-Commerce giants like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.
Forrester predicts that by 2019, B2B e-Commerce market will be worth $1.1 trillion compared to the B2C market at $480 billion. The scope to diversify/expand is also immense in the B2B space with varied opportunities and the technological advancements provided by eCommerce platforms like Magento.
In fact, 74% feel that buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative and 3/4’s of B2B firms are already upgrading their eCommerce platform.
The tide for B2B business is shifting from extension based model to SaaS-based products as this gets onto an interesting win-win situation for both the customer and the service providers. With the ongoing support contract, it helps/gives room for the service providers to constantly improve the quality of services and keep pace with the technological advancements and the Return on Investment(ROI) is also high as there is a mutual accountability.
Key B2B features
What makes B2B interesting is that it is not a model which can be simulated/prototyped for every business owing to the ever growing needs, technological advancements and each business being unique from the other. However, based on our experience dealing with multiple B2B businesses, below are some of the key B2B features which are sought after by the merchants.
1. Account Onboarding
This is one of the key elements which helps to segregate B2B business users. Integration of separate registration process, enabling businesses to register with the website. Additionally, having separate logins for resellers is of immense importance in B2B
2. Customer Group Allocation
Based on the credit requests and other back-office logic, customers will be allocated to certain groups – this information will be exchanged with the ERP (if applicable). The merchant can define on customizing and giving pricing, user experience etc. based on the customer groups.
3. Customized Product Blocks
Another important part of the B2B business is to present website elements based on the heat maps, high interaction areas and to highlight the most important content based on user experience/business priorities
4. ERP Integration
An ERP system deals with complete business activities like purchasing, invoicing, supply chain, stock management, inventories etc.
For any integration to function efficiently following major components need to be addressed with precision:
- Automatic Data Exchange: Exchange of essential data in real-time as well as in a periodic manner in an automated manner forms the crux of any integration.
- Process Management: Defining the processes and enabling all entities to function in a specified manner helps to lay down smooth operations.
- Activity Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of all activities enables the business to take crucial timely decisions.
- Ecosystem Management: Creating a well-oiled ecosystem allowing all entities in the ecosystem to communicate in a seamless manner.
Below is a sample integration workflow of P21 with Magento.
B2B merchants often look out for additional payment options like Vantiv, ACH Payments, Partial Payments, Credit Line Payments, Paymetric etc. which does not come in natively with Magento. These payment options are sought after based on the ERPs used by the merchants/business requirements.
Shipping is a key component to a B2B business considering the complexity and shipping rules based on customer needs. B2B businesses also require integrating with shipping options like Less than Load(LTL) for weights over 150 lbs which doesn’t come natively with Magento. Another interesting area is the multi warehouse shipping capabilities of B2B businesses which involve defining the algorithm/logic based on distance/availability etc.
7. Quick Order
B2B customers often know exactly what they want, right down to the item number or SKU. This feature will provide them with a form where they can enter item numbers and quantities, to quickly add items to their cart without spending efforts in browsing and searching for the same product each time.
8. Sample Product Ordering
For businesses offering bulk orders, customers prefer to check the quality of the products using sample products. This feature enables the website to offer sample products to the customers prior to ordering in bulk quantity.
9. Multiple Pricing
The individual pricing approach to every customer is a necessity for any B2B e-commerce. Pricing can be created based on parameters such as customer groups, volume-based purchases, exclusive product rates, regional pricing, etc. for wholesale accounts. Apart from such parameters the pricing can also supersede all of these and be implemented differently for each customer.
10. Request for quote
This option will automate the manual quotation process and thereby helps businesses with better tracking and maintenance in the long run.
11. Negotiated Pricing terms
This feature enables the customers to undertake a negotiation with the sales rep to avail best possible pricing on the products. This will provide customers complete freedom to request for pricing as per their needs.
12. “My Account” page
The My Account section will enable customers to go through all of their activities on the website, including Order Management, Accounting & Profile Management. Some features available in “My Account” page could include few features like quoted items, shopping list, purchase reports, aging reports, invoice details, tax exemption, credit application
13. Order Tracking without Login
Some merchants would want to allow customers to track their orders without logging in to the website, by providing some basic information specific to each business like tracking number etc.
The above features are not the exhaustive list but this would definitely give a good idea what B2B businesses expect and will help to explore further on this vast domain. Stay tuned for my next blog on the much awaited Magento B2B platform.
For more information on B2B, please check out our other blogs.
- B2B eCommerce with Magento Enterprise – Part I
- B2B eCommerce with Magento Enterprise – Part II
- Popular B2B Extensions For Your Magento 2 Store
- Integrating Magento 2 With P 21
- Seamless eCommerce through Magento Oracle EBS Integration
- Need for Magento EDI Integration
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