Estimated reading time: 9 minutesWith complex requirements and business-dependent configurations, B2B or business-to-business ecommerce needs powerful technology solutions (and often, a skilled and experienced IT partner to help implement them). In this article, we look at some of the best ecommerce platforms and solutions available in the market today and explore how they can help you build and scale your B2B ecommerce business.
MagentoMagento powers a large share of ecommerce sites on the web today, B2C and B2B alike. It’s known for being a robust ecommerce platform that offers broad customization options to help you build a webshop solution that’s completely tailored to your business needs. Magento offers plenty of native B2B-specific functionalities, such as:
- Managing company accounts with multiple buyers on different roles and permission settings
- Streamlined workflows for managing quote requests or negotiating prices and discounts
- Flexible order management, from entering SKUs, uploading CSV files, or choosing items from pre-defined lists
- Personalized shopping experience and multi-channel selling
- Integration with other IT systems such as ERP, PIM and inventory management systems using APIs or extensions
- Support for both a B2C and B2B setup within one webshop solution
WooCommerceWooCommerce is an open source plugin that extends the CMS capabilities of WordPress and turns it into an ecommerce platform. According to BuiltWith statistics, WooCommerce is the most popular ecommerce technology in the world, used by 28% of ecommerce sites on the web today. Out of the box, WooCommerce doesn’t offer native B2B capabilities; however, there are plenty of off-the-shelf plugins that can support your B2B webshop solution:
- B2B Ecommerce for WooCommerce – This plugin allows you to manage how customers can purchase your product by enabling/disabling the Add to Cart or Add to RFQ (Request for Quote) buttons.
- B2B for WooCommerce – This plugin offers a complete solution for wholesale WooCommerce stores. Its features include B2B user registrations, manual approval of new registrations, display/hide products and prices depending on user roles, and different pricing configurations for different customers.
- Dynamic Pricing – This plugin lets you conveniently manage different pricing structures depending on your business-specific rules. You can choose to configure discounts based on product volume or category, or based on the user role assigned to your customer.
ShopifyShopify offers a range of ecommerce solutions from simple B2C shops to more complex B2B configurations. It supports an all-in-one platform where you can manage a wholesale B2B store alongside with a direct-to-consumer shop. For B2B, Shopify’s out-of-the-box capabilities include:
- Custom pricing and discount configurations for customers or customer groups
- Convenient and quick reordering workflow and checkout process
- Automated review of new customer registrations
- Varying payment options with partner payment providers, and support for manual invoicing
- Integration with company systems like ERP, CRM, and inventory
- Manual review of wholesale orders before invoicing
UmbracoUmbraco is a .NET-based content management system (CMS). While it doesn’t have native ecommerce functionalities, there are a lot of ecommerce packages or extensions that you can use to transform this CMS into a webshop platform (similar to how WooCommerce works with WordPress). Here are top ecommerce packages for Umbraco that you can check out:
- Vendr – This package is built on TeaCommerce, one of the top Umbraco ecommerce packages in the market. Vendr supports Umbraco version 8 onwards, and offers simple and flexible ecommerce management with features for discount configurations, integrated payment methods, and even SEO and marketing toolsets.
- Ucommerce – This package extends Umbraco with enterprise commerce capabilities. Ucommerce provides a platform for customizing product presentation, checkout flow, managing content, and membership accounts, among others.
Setting up a new B2B webshopIf you’re only starting out in your B2B ecommerce venture, it can be quite an adjustment to move your traditional transactions to the digital space. Here are some things you should consider when setting up a new B2B webshop:
Product dataChances are, you already have your product data in your ERP or other software. To prepare for your new ecommerce site, you have to check that your product details are uniform and complete, so that online customers can easily navigate through your webshop and quickly find what they’re looking for with onsite search.
Page titles and contentMany B2B companies import the product information they receive from their suppliers directly without modifying anything. This results in published content (page title, page description, product information, etc.) that are identical with many other ecommerce sites, which makes it harder to stand out and rank higher in Google. If you want your B2B webshop to be found on Google, make sure to avoid this practice and instead do keyword analysis, write your own page titles, page descriptions, and product content. Note that digital customers expect richer product content that are beyond the basic product measurements or specifications. Prepare content that’s optimized for readability and SEO, and supplement it with high-quality product images. To help you manage all these, consider adapting a Product Information Management (PIM) solution. If you have thousands of products, writing unique content for each one of them can be almost impossible. In these cases, majority of companies do nothing, while some either utilize software that automatically rewrites text to make it different from others, or simply de-index individual product pages and instead focus on optimizing product category pages and/or landing pages. No two webshops are the same, so consider consulting as SEO expert to get sound advice on which strategy you should follow.
Online accounts for your customersTo make it more convenient for your customers to get onboard with your new ecommerce system, you can prepare their company accounts in the webshop beforehand and send them their credentials. This way, you can also pre-configure customer-specific rules like pricing, discounts, and incentive programs. Alternatively, you can also send out a mass email to ask them to register for your new B2B webshop and offer discounts for new signups, which can also boost your upselling and cross-selling strategies.
Onboarding your internal teamIf you have a dedicated sales team, make sure that they get the time to familiarize themselves with the new system and that they have the tools they need to provide a better digital shopping experience to your customers.
Integration to your CRM softwareIntegrating your current Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software will help you provide enhanced support and customer service. It may not be feasible to integrate your webshop with your CRM system from day one. Therefore, you’ll need to have a system in place how to work around that as you set up your new webshop.
Never mix languagesIf you have a German webshop, for example, then don’t import English text and try to rank in Google. If you have product text that are in English, either translate it or remove the text from the Google index.
B2B ecommerce integration with existing systemsWhen adapting a B2B ecommerce strategy, it’s important to consider the different existing and legacy systems you have and how your B2B webshop fits into your existing workflow. It’s common for B2B businesses to utilize different dedicated software to cater to different aspects of the business:
- An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for managing accounting, sales, orders, etc.;
- An Inventory Management System for keeping track of stock levels and inventory-related processes;
- A Product Information Management (PIM) system for streamlining the collection and distribution of product information and enriching published product content;
- A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to manage interactions with customers and keep track of past customer data;
- And the list goes on…