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Blog / What to Look for When Choosing a B2B E-commercePlatform

What to Look for When Choosing a B2B E-commercePlatform

The B2B ecommerce sector is rapidly changing. In the UK, B2B ecommerce sales via a website equated to £133.6 billion in 2017. And, according to this report from Forrester, B2B ecommerce in the U.S. alone is set to account for 17% of all B2B sales and reach a whopping $1.8 trillion by 2023.

The right B2B ecommerce platform can go a long way in helping you enjoy a slice of that pie. But what exactly should you be looking for when choosing a solution that’ll meet the needs of your manufacturing, distribution or wholesale business not just now, but in the future? Read on for some key considerations.

Smart, flexible features

One of the biggest questions you might ask yourself is whether to opt for an off-the-shelf SaaS B2B ecommerce platform or have one built to your exact specifications. The first option might not be intuitive enough or be able to integrate with other applications, and the latter may prove to be incredibly expensive, especially if your business is in its infancy.

A middle ground might be to look for a highly configurable solution, either a cloud-based SaaS or static on-premise option, that can cope with multiple functions and integrations. For example, self-service, custom pricing models, bulk order processing, quotation functionality, custom ordering, fulfilment, inventory management, and multiple payment options.

Ideally, your chosen platform would support online customer negotiations and multiple employee logins, roles, and permissions, so that various members of staff can access and use the system. A robust B2B ecommerce platform should provide detailed behavioural analytics and a built-in CRM system so you can see how best to support corporate accounts and provide excellent customer service.

Integration capabilities

If you use an in-house ERP system to manage your accounting, HR functions and other vitalcompany data, consider whether your preferred ecommerce platform will integrate with that.If so, you’ll need to check how the integration would take place – whether you’d be required to manually transfer across data or if you can make use of APIs to make the process simple and automated. Some ecommerce platforms will sync with your ERP system in real time.

Note that Apparatus can integrate with ERP, CRM, PIM, IMS and OMS systems, as well as third-party logistics (3PL) providers. We have a team of Solution Engineers on hand to help you through the process.

Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure that the platform you choose not only provides an effortless user experience for the end customer, but also helps to streamline operational and sales processes within your organisation.

Scalability

So that your business can grow effectively, your B2B ecommerce platform shouldn’t be limited to its current capacity. It should be able to scale accordingly. Apparatus, for example, can help you convert new high value B2B customers and help you extract even more value from existing customers as you scale your business. It’s also flexible enough to translate intodifferent languages and currencies should you want to broaden your reach.

A scalable solution should also be able to adapt and redefine its content, functionality, and overall design, as well as integrate with artificial intelligence (AI), so as to improve customer
engagement. This is especially the case since technologies like augmented reality (AR) and voice recognition are becoming more popular. That said, choose a B2B ecommerce service provider that is continually learning from and moving with industry and technological trends.

Customer-centric provider

While your chosen platform should help you deliver an enhanced, personalised experience to your end-users, you should also be benefiting from the same treatment as a client. A worthy ecommerce services vendor will offer a comprehensive onboarding process to help you get your portal set up so that it’s ready to go.

Also, look for a provider that offers strong customer support; that can effectively deal with any complex integrations or customisations and be on hand to answer questions should you or your team run into problems using the platform.

Omnichannel ecommercecommerce

If you happen to sell to retail as well as B2B, you might want to broaden your exposure by also selling on global marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, by mail order or via an EPOS system. If that’s the case, look for an ecommerce provider that can integrate with other marketplaces as well as provide the functionality you need for your own ecommerce site.

Choosing an ecommerce platform that’ll grow with your business

An ecommerce platform that embraces and moves with technological and industry trends is imperative, so that you may meet and exceed your customers’ expectations now and later on down the line. You don’t want to end up replacing your ecommerce platform with anotherone after just a couple of years or so.

It should be able to support multiple functions and integrate with other applications or marketplaces to allow you to scale your business for growth and success. And, while features are a vital consideration, so is the customer service available to you as a B2B seller. You need the reassurance that a human is at the end of an email or phone, ready to assist you should you or your team run into technical problems.

Combined, the above factors are just a few of the key considerations you should carefully explore when choosing the right B2B ecommerce platform for your needs.