E-commerce technology solutions for B2B

Published on: May 20, 2020

With complex requirements and business-dependent configurations, B2B or business-to-business e-commerce 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 e-commerce platforms and solutions available in the market today and explore how they can help you build and scale your B2B e-commerce business.

Magento

Magento powers a large share of e-commerce sites on the web today, B2C and B2B alike. It’s known for being a robust e-commerce 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

Learn more about Magento’s B2B capabilities in their B2B infosheet. You can also contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our expert Magento project managers who can review your requirements and walk you through how Magento can help your business.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open source plugin that extends the CMS capabilities of WordPress and turns it into an e-commerce platform. According to BuiltWith statistics, WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce technology in the world, used by 28% of e-commerce 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 E-commerce 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.

If you’re interested in building a B2B webshop for your business based on WooCommerce, get in touch with us and explore possible WooCommerce solutions for your business with the help of our project managers.

Shopify

Shopify offers a range of e-commerce 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

Learn more about Shopify’s B2B e-commerce solution here.

Umbraco

Umbraco is a .NET-based content management system (CMS). While it doesn’t have native e-commerce functionalities, there are a lot of e-commerce 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 e-commerce packages for Umbraco that you can check out:

  • Vendr – This package is built on TeaCommerce, one of the top Umbraco e-commerce packages in the market. Vendr supports Umbraco version 8 onwards, and offers simple and flexible e-commerce 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.

Umbraco e-commerce is suitable for businesses with an existing company infrastructure that’s built on Microsoft ASP.NET as Umbraco uses the same underlying technology, enabling you to share resources such as in-house developers, servers, technical know-how, etc.

Setting up a new B2B webshop

If you’re only starting out in your B2B e-commerce 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 data

Chances are, you already have your product data in your ERP or other software. To prepare for your new e-commerce 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 content

Many 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 e-commerce 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. (Read our PIM article series to learn more.)

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 customers

To make it more convenient for your customers to get onboard with your new e-commerce 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 team

If 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 software

Integrating 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 languages

If 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 e-commerce integration with existing systems

When adapting a B2B e-commerce 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…

To make the most out of your B2B e-commerce implementation, your webshop needs to be connected and in sync with these systems (and these systems, with each other).

For a truly seamless integration that supports an omnichannel experience for your customers, consider implementing multi-channel integration. Multi-channel integration is a setup that uses a central platform as the hub through which all your internal systems and customer-facing platforms can communicate with each other.

This setup enables real-time syncing of data and reduces bottlenecks and errors in the information you receive and publish.

Learn more about this in our multi-channel integration article series or contact us directly to speak with an experienced project manager who can assess your business needs and recommend the right integration solution for your requirements.

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