This is an exciting time for prospective entrepreneurs interested in starting online businesses. The internet has revolutionized entrepreneurial success by making it easy for anyone to launch an online store. Entrepreneurs no longer require a large amount of capital to start an eCommerce business. With the right tools, launching into the virtual landscape has become increasingly affordable.
Choosing the best B2B (business-to-business) eCommerce platform for your needs is crucial, and will largely impact how successful your online presence is. This guide discusses some important considerations.
Create a Business Case
Image via Flickr by Bruno Dul7
Begin with a business case. Perform a vast amount of research and calculate a return on investment utilizing hard data. Everything from projected site traffic to the average order value needs to be included in this assessment. The business case should include a thorough overview of the company’s operational costs, detailing the expenses associated with acquiring each customer, from generating initial leads to converting these into loyal buyers.
Get to Know the eCommerce Platform
Choosing the best B2B eCommerce platform also entails getting a thorough understanding of how the system works. eCommerce platforms are usually comprised of numerous features and capabilities. A business’ unique needs will determine which features are necessary. A platform worth investing in will allow the web developer to customize it to create an exceptional customer experience. Carefully consider the user’s path to purchase, from searching for products to navigating the checkout process.
Some platforms offer out-of-the-box functionality, meaning the developer can easily upload the products and product information and start selling right away. Although this type of platform is advantageous, it’s imperative to choose one that comes with multiple customization capabilities.
Understand Your Options
In addition to becoming familiar with different platforms, you should become acquainted with cloud-based options. When investing in a cloud-based eCommerce B2B platform, there is no need to operate one’s own servers. This delegation can save an enormous amount of money, and it eliminates the headache of having to perform maintenance on the servers. It also mitigates the need to invest in expensive hardware.
A cloud-based platform also proves to be of the utmost value when it comes to cybersecurity. Customer data is stored safely and securely, which is vital to operating a successful eCommerce business that attracts loyal customers.
Invest in Mobile Optimization
No matter which B2B platform is chosen, it is crucial that it allows for mobile optimization to take place. A large number of businesses purchase from suppliers and vendors using mobile devices. They also prefer to make mobile payments from smartphones and tablets. A B2B platform that supports mobile optimization will create the ultimate user experience and streamline the entire B2B transaction.
Make Sure the Platform is Scalable
As an eCommerce business grows, so too will its website. These rapidly developing websites will require the use of advanced features. Investing in an inexpensive B2B platform might seem like an easy way to save a few bucks, but this choice will quickly backfire, leaving users with the struggle of switching to a more robust platform later on down the road. It’s best to avoid these transitions and choose a platform that can grow with your company.
Invest upfront in a quality platform that is scalable. You will have ready access to expanding data storage, so you can list more products and make more sales without increasing load times or sacrificing any measure of customer comfort and satisfaction.
Self-Service is a Requirement
It’s not worth investing in a platform if it doesn’t allow buyers to manage their accounts and generate reports. The goal is to provide a first-class experience for buyers. Modern shoppers want to be able to track orders, chat with customer service, and generate reports with the click of a button. A platform that supports self-service features is going to achieve all of these goals. This functionality not only improves the user experience, but it translates into loyal customers who return for future purchases.
Support Multiple Payment Options
There’s a good chance the B2B buyers who make bulk purchases will want to return for similar transactions on a regular basis. Instead of having to submit payment individually for each transaction, these buyers like to set up recurring payments that automatically debit the transaction amount from their accounts. To do this, it’s crucial that the B2B platform supports B2B payments.
Ideally, the platform will also support global payments. This support is especially vital for businesses who buy and sell around the world. There are many types of global payments to support, including global ACH, wire transfers, credit/debit cards, e-checks, and more. Choosing a B2B platform that supports all of these payment methods will be well worth the investment.
Easily Integrate with Other Systems
It is of the utmost importance that a B2B platform can easily integrate with a company’s existing infrastructure, including its current applications and systems. This integration should include everything from its accounting software to its CRM program. When all of the data can be integrated, it gives a B2B eCommerce company the ability to acquire hidden insights that can fuel operational success. It also creates a seamless experience for customer, whether they’re purchasing online or off.
Upholds PCI Compliance
A B2B eCommerce platform must include features and functionality that support PCI compliance. Customers want to know that their payment account information is safe and secure. Some of today’s leading B2B platforms integrate PCI compliance for the user. Others, however, do not. When shopping for a platform, it’s essential to look for one that automatically implements PCI compliance measures.
Whether you’re new to the eCommerce industry or you’ve been around as it has evolved and changed shape over the past decade, shopping for a B2B eCommerce platform is something that will require a significant investment of time and thought. With the right platform, however, you can enjoy scalability, enhanced data protection, and a solid user experience.