B2B sales are huge and growing: in 2017, B2B businesses earned $7.7 trillion. If you don't already have a B2B eCommerce strategy in place, you might be losing out on the B2B boom. Global B2B eCommerce gross merchandise volume (GMV) grew from approximately $5.8 billion in 2013 to about $7.7 billion in 2017, and studies estimate that B2B eCommerce will top $1.1 trillion by 2020, accounting for more than 12% of all U.S. B2B sales. Having a user-friendly, well-functioning B2B eCommerce site is therefore a critical part of doing business.
In spite of this, many businesses simply don't know where to get started. Here are our suggestions for finding the best B2B eCommerce solutions — and why we recommend Magento.
Selecting the Right Platform
Image via Flickr by quapan
When considering the right B2B eCommerce solutions for your business, keep in mind that your eCommerce website touches almost every element of your business, from Information Management to Accounting, Customer Service, and Sales/Marketing. Sit down and make a list of each staff member from each department who is likely to be affected by your choice of eCommerce platform, and determine the business and technical requirements of each staff member and department. Engage as many of these stakeholders as early in the decision-making process as possible to ensure that these requirements are fully taken into account.
For each eCommerce platform under consideration, we recommend that you note the TCO, or total cost of ownership, tools and methods for measuring ROI, and the payback period. Use these metrics and your research to ensure that whichever platform you select is in alignment with the long-term goals of your business. Finally, determine the technical requirements for the platform you select. Consider how flexible you will need the platform to be — what unique business processes does your organization employ that might require customization? Will your developers need to be able to access the site's code to fulfill your business requirements?
There are a number of reasons we believe that Magento Commerce is the best platform offering B2B eCommerce solutions. Forrester, a highly influential research and advisory firm, named Magento Commerce a "leader" in B2B commerce. Magento is an all-in-one open-source platform known for its flexibility that offers rich, built-in B2B functionality to help achieve all of your business goals. It offers an intuitive and easy-to-use online buying and account management experience to customers. Many customers have even commented that the platform is so easy to use that it feels like B2C.
Magento is an industry leader that offers more than 100 built-in B2B features, including robust merchandising, friction-free ordering, personalized buying experiences, easy integration with backend systems, and support for corporate accounts. Magento is ready for B2B business: your customers will be able to manage their own company accounts, track quotes, view detailed order histories, and set up multiple tiers of buyers with permissions and roles. All this means that customers will be less likely to need to call you for customer support.
Magento's smart order and inventory management system improves operations by offering one solution for managing orders from all sales channels. Customers can receive real-time, accurate information about your inventory from across the supply chain. Friction-free ordering will boost your sales by providing efficient and convenient purchasing options. Customers can place orders online quickly by uploading CSV files, entering SKUs, or selecting items from a pre-set requisition list. Additionally, Magento offers a full set of quote management tools, so that your sales team will be able to assist customers by creating orders for them and respond quickly to quote requests online.
Magento's high-performance, reliable customer experience is delivered without maintenance fees and expensive capital costs. Backend system integration is easy, with off-the-shelf extensions and robust APIs that speed time to market.
Magento's B2B-Optimized Features
How do Magento's B2B features compare with other eCommerce platforms? There are several key factors that you should consider in assessing potential B2B eCommerce solutions:
Scalability: You need an eCommerce platform that is able to grow along with your business and can accommodate fluctuations in online traffic without requiring you to maintain excess capacity. Cloud-based, on-demand platforms offer this kind of scalability. Magento Digital Commerce Cloud B2B provides out-of-the-box support to complicated eCommerce requirements that demand scalability and flexibility.
Product management: The best B2B eCommerce platform will help your customers find what they need easily and quickly, no matter how complicated or large your product catalog is. Magento provides support for personalized price lists and customizable catalogs.
Customer experience: A positive and easy user experience is key to an effective B2B eCommerce site. The best solutions offer high-quality templates to help you design a site that facilitates positive customer experiences and easy-to-use dashboards that make it easy for you to update and maintain site content. Magento Marketplace provides many B2B eCommerce themes and extensions that facilitate building out an easy-to-use B2B eCommerce site.
Integration: Easy integration between your eCommerce platform and business systems will improve your business' efficiency and help you track inventory, orders, and customer preferences. Magento has a wide range of off-the-shelf-extensions and APIs that facilitate straightforward integration.
Operations: You need to be confident that your site meets necessary standards of data protection. Magento's checkout process is designed to reduce risks while optimizing payments, and it allows integration with payment gateways that will make it easier and more secure for your customers to check out.
Responsiveness: Your site needs to be responsive on mobile devices to accommodate business buyers, who are increasingly using smartphones and tablets for business-related searching and purchases. Your site's SEO could also be affected by the responsiveness and quality of your mobile content now that Google has rolled out its mobile-first index. Magento's B2B site is mobile-optimized and provides a seamless user experience for mobile users.
Compared to other B2B eCommerce solutions, Magento provides flexibility, improved customer experiences, and a number of other features that will give your B2B eCommerce site a jump on your competitors. For assistance with developing your Magento B2B eCommerce website, book an appointment with one of IronPlane's Magento-certified developers and solutions specialists.