B2B (or business-to-business) eCommerce is the process by which businesses transact the sale of goods and services online. These transactions may be between a manufacturer and a wholesaler or between a wholesaler and a retailer. Traditionally thought of as unsexy, boring even, B2B websites do not (to my mind at least) garner a fraction of the attention that is reserved for their more glamorous cousins in the B2C world. The most frequently referenced examples of best-in-class eCommerce sites almost always seem to be those of B2C organisations.
Maybe it’s all the funky functionalities these sites deliver (such as product videos, online accounts, share-to-social links and highly personalised merchandising designed to target increasingly segmented customer groups). Maybe it’s the fact that we all tend to know and shop with the brands showcased……
Whatever the reason for the lack of attention, experience has shown that B2B websites need to be every bit as slick and sexy as their B2C counterparts. After all, modern B2B website users are B2C shoppers as well. In fact, I’d argue that B2B websites should be showcased far more than B2C websites. Not only do they need to be intuitive and engaging, they also have tonnes of complex functionality and business rules driving that user experience.
So what are the really key features and functions for a B2B eCommerce site (outside of the usual hygiene factors for any online shopping experience)? Based on the experience that we have had implementing various B2B websites, I would say these are:
Personalised experience configured around user login credentials to show:
- Tailored product range and contract pricing
- Display of relevant deals and offers
- Payment routes configured as per contract (i.e. Pay on Account, Pay by credit card, Complete by phone, etc)
- Spend limits
- Authorisation controls
- Repeat orders and returns
- Multiple delivery details
- Easy to place bulk orders
- Quick order functionality for multiple different products
So a B2B site generally needs all of the features and functionalities of a high quality B2C site plus a whole lot extra to cater for complex pricing schemes, payment arrangements, etc.
In a future posts, I’ll look in more detail at some of these specific functionalities and advise what I think businesses should be looking for with a best-in-class B2B eCommerce solution.