The current B2B 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 2023, e-Commerce market will be worth $1.8 trillion. We went beyond because of the pandemic. 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 an extension-based model to SaaS-based products as this gets onto an interesting win-win situation for both the customer and the service providers. The ongoing support contract 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 mutual accountability.
Get our best content on eCommerce and backend operations to optimize your distribution business for profitability in your inbox one time a week.
Key B2B features Your Business Needs
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 is 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
Account onboarding is the key element that helps in segregating B2B business users. It helps in the integration of an independent registration process, enabling business ventures to register with different websites. Additionally, having a separate login for resellers is also quite important in B2B.
2. 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
3. “My Account” page
The ‘My Account’ section will help the customers in going through all their activities on the website which includes accounting, profile management and order management. Some features that are available in the page are shopping lists, aging reports, credit applications, tax exemption, and much more.
4. 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.
5. Multiple Pricing
For a B2B customer, having an individual pricing approach is quite necessary.
You can create pricing based on different parameters such as volume-based purchases, customer groups, regional pricing, and much more. These are specifically necessary for wholesale accounts.
6. Introduce the request a quote feature
It is also a good idea to implement a facility for ‘request a quote’ facility following from live chat. If you have a ordering process which is complex or you need to deal with huge quantities, then its better to introduce this feature. Putting in a quick form or any enquiry button situated in this functionality can surely help making enquiring much easier and also help you with a smoother lead generation.
7. Flexible checkout
The checkout process is very crucial to all eCommerce stores, but it is particularly very difficult for B2B stores. We recommend you to include new features such as more flexibility in payment options, go for guest check out, retrieve address information or even keep placing previous orders repeatedly. This can give the comfort your customer needs and it will surely help you build up your website more efficiently.
8. Live customer support
In case, you consider how stressful it is to simply buy a pair of sneakers online; then imagine what making a purchase for hundreds of spare parts of machinery can do to you. Have an FAQ or a contact page that helps to deal with different queries, but you can also aim at the implementation of a live chat facility which means that it is easy to keep up with inquisitive customers quickly as well as capture the sales with ease.
9. Real-time inventory levels
Real time inventory updates can really help your customers and more efficient product pages for sure. It can help you in avoiding the risk of basically overselling and not having enough for your potential customers. So, we recommend that you have a proper update because these real time updates can surely help in tacking customer service much more efficiently.
10. Re-order or quick order functionality
B2B customers are often acquainted with just what they want, sometimes right to the item number or the SKU. This feature helps provide them a form wherein they can enter the item numbers as well as quantities, so as to quickly add items to the cart without spending effort in searching and browsing for the same product each time. We understand that placing orders which have multiple SKUs can become arduous if it is not handled correctly.
11. 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.
12. Provide discounts for bulk orders
B2B customers do not make small buys. Instead, they tend to place orders for large and bulk purchases. So, it is advisable to offer the discounts depending on the ordered quantity. This can be particularly useful if you wish to ship pallets or cartons where selling product batches won’t affect the costs of the carriage. Make sure the pricing structure, as well as the sales channel, allows you to put in discounts based on quantity. Make sure your pricing structure and sales channel allow you to apply discounts based on quantity ordered to make it worth your while.
13. Order Tracking without Login
Some merchants would want to provide their customers with a feature to track orders without actually logging in to the website. This can be facilitated by giving basic information particularly specific to each business like tracking number etc. While B2C delivery waits can get tiring, fulfilling B2B orders with warehouse staff, the pressure of managers and different accounts can get another level of pressurizing. It has become quite common to send an email with a tracking number to the customers, but this is not it. We need to think of innovative ways to help your B2B customers. An online order tracker is a good way to get started here. It shows each step that goes in the order process and the current progress that can prove to be very useful for stakeholders.
14. Minimum order quantity
If your business predominantly sells the products in wholesale quantities, then you actually do not want to spend any time in shipping off smaller quantities. We highly recommend setting up a minimum order quantity for each category or just simply feed in a minimum amount for the total price. You should be able to communicate limits clearly on the product pages so that customers do not get disappointed after placing the whole order otherwise you would need to deal with a lot of abandoned baskets and faltered check-out processes.
15. Mobile-first design
We also highly recommend making your B2B eCommerce website more mobile-centric. It is made to serve your mobile users basically. This will not only appease Google, where the algorithm changes every few years but prioritizing your mobile responsiveness will make it much easier for customers to browse the catalogs and buy from there. 61% of products that are in the research catalog are done with the help of a smartphone, so don’t skip on it.
The above features are not an exhaustive list but they would definitely give a great idea of what B2B businesses expect and will help to explore further on this vast domain.
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