The B2B eCommerce market is significantly larger than the B2C industry and continues to grow. If you want your business to expand with it and capitalize on new opportunities, prioritize a reliable eCommerce platform to build on – with features that make life easier for you and your customers. But what are those features? Our guide explains.
Business-to-business (B2B) electronic commerce (eCommerce) is the buying and selling of goods and services that takes place online between businesses. The B2B eCommerce market is huge and growing, covering almost all industries on a local and international level.
Processing orders digitally improves efficiencies for both parties, from wholesalers and manufacturers to distributors. Even traditional offline B2B sellers are transitioning online, increasing the need for B2B eCommerce platforms.
Although there’s a difference between B2C and B2B eCommerce, business customers still expect an immersive, responsive and easy-to-use shopping experience. As a seller, your aim remains to encourage successful conversions. Many of the same best practices apply, so you need a highly capable B2B eCommerce platform with the features to help you along the way.
These are some of the most important B2B eCommerce features to look for when choosing a B2B eCommerce platform for your company – whether you’re scaling up an existing site, expanding from B2C into B2B or just getting started.
Classifying your customers into groups can be more important for B2B eCommerce compared to B2C, as you’re more likely to get large and repeat orders. Creating customer segments means you can set pricing, minimum order requirements, and shipping options. It also helps you to launch targeted promotions that are relevant and more likely to convert.
Based on customer profiles, you may want to group them due to their:
This can help personalize their shopping experience, increasing the speed of finding and ordering products they’re looking for.
A search function is essential on any eCommerce site so customers can find what they need, fast. With B2B eCommerce, it’s likely you’ll have an even larger product catalog, with many similar items. This can make finding a specific, niche product challenging for customers.
Therefore, one of the key B2B eCommerce features to prioritize in a platform is a search bar that enables:
A customer-specific catalog is vital for businesses that hold contracts with certain customers – where there’s access to a special line of products or an agreed pricing structure. It also enables B2B organizations to sell to different clients based on their customer group.
The ability to offer a customized product catalog through your B2B eCommerce platform creates a personalized shopping experience. It also saves time – as otherwise such customers may contact you by phone or email to arrange their agreed prices, before fulfilling an order.
While consumers may visit a B2C eCommerce site regularly, they’ll often buy different items – returning because of a great online shopping experience. Business buyers often make repeat orders of the same product(s). Requisition lists can be used to collate items frequently ordered to be easily re-ordered in the future.
This saves your clients time, removing the need to re-enter the same items from previous orders. When they regularly order high quantities of products, it can make a big difference. Choose a B2B eCommerce platform that offers this function from the customer account page, so they can place orders immediately for added convenience.
For B2B customers who know what they want to order immediately, a quick order form speeds up the process. Customers can manually enter or import multiple stock-keeping units (SKUs) to add to their order quickly, rather than searching for individual products and adding one by one.
Choose an eCommerce platform where this appears at the top of their account page when logging in for even quicker use.
Many of your B2B customers may look to place large orders, especially those working in wholesale. Similar to a quick order form, a wholesale or bulk order form speeds up the process by enabling customers to search by part number, SKU, or catalog order and add to their basket altogether – rather than one-by-one.
Customers simply enter the SKU or part number, and the quantity required, to the form, which then redirects to the checkout and adds all the items at once. If the specific product or quantity is unavailable, this will be identified so the customer can change their order or request to be notified when they’ve been restocked.
With B2C eCommerce, many consumers only visit sites to order one or two items. However, sellers in this space expect, or even require, higher minimum orders for certain products. This can be due to their price points, products sold in packs or cases, specificity or simply how many sales are required to make a profit.
Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) B2B eCommerce features enable you to set a minimum number of a specific products customers can order. This can prevent inventory issues, such as orders for half a case. Maximum order quantities, to ensure you can fulfill orders, are another consideration.
For sellers that deal with large quantities of products, or have a complex ordering process, the ability to request a quote can improve transparency for customers and encourage sales. Request-a-quote features must be quick and easy to use, simply adding the quantity of products and delivering a price.
The best options can also consider the customer’s historical data (including previous orders), so you can offer discounts on prices and shipping to reward loyalty.
Similar to customer-specific catalogs, personalized pricing offers customers tailored prices for your products. You need a B2B eCommerce platform that enables this feature to deliver tailored options and encourage sales and loyalty.
Examples of customized pricing can include:
With some B2B clients you may have contracts in place already, which mean payments don’t need processing online. Others may use extended credit terms, invoicing, and other payment methods.
A key B2B eCommerce feature is to enable flexible payment options, so your customers can checkout with a solution that suits their situation. This can involve offering online and offline payment options, such as:
Being able to configure various payment options and make relevant ones available to customers – based on their grouping, location, quantity ordered or other criteria – can ensure a fast and accurate checkout.
Depending on your industry and business model, you may want to restrict access to your site to pre-registered clients only. This can be to protect your pricing structure and strategies from competitors, or if you sell to resellers and dealers.
Look for an eCommerce platform with the ability to set up a password-protected B2B site, where users must register first. If you still want to keep your products visible for the public, some eCommerce platforms offer features to hide products and prices and block purchases from unregistered users. This enables you to tailor restrictions to suit your business.
Some of your clients may have non-taxable status, or reclaim tax on specific products, which is why including prices inclusive and exclusive of VAT is helpful. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a VAT toggle, so customers can slide it to instantly see the actual price they’ll pay – depending on their status.
It can improve the user experience, save them time and avoids customers leaving your site to use a VAT calculator elsewhere, risking them not returning.
A B2B eCommerce platform is the tool most B2B organizations use to build and control their online shopping experiences. While its primary purpose is to list your products and accept payments (like in any shop), platforms include many B2B eCommerce features so you can do more. This can include personalizing the sales, shopping and marketing experiences, integrating customer data, offering promotions and more.
eCommerce is becoming the norm for businesses selling to other businesses due to many advantages, such as:
Yes, some businesses operate within both B2B and B2C markets. However, most focus on selling purely to consumers or businesses, as they can require different strategies, systems and processes. It can be easier to start within either B2B or B2C and then expand into the other once you’ve proven to be successful.
Adobe Commerce, powered by Magento offers a range of solutions to help your B2B eCommerce business create excellent customer experience and streamline your processes.
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