Selecting a B2B e-commerce platform is an important investment that can have a major impact on your business’s ability to generate online sales. With countless software solutions on the market, it can be daunting to evaluate all the available options to choose the one that best aligns with your specific goals and online commerce needs.
By focusing your decision-making process around certain key factors like required functionality, scalability, ease of use, and data management capabilities, you can determine which platform is right for supporting your current operations and future growth.
In this article, we will be sharing further details about what business owners and entrepreneurs should focus on when evaluating B2B e-commerce software for their businesses.
What to Look for in a B2B E-commerce Software Provider?
When researching B2B e-commerce solutions, there are several must-have features and criteria to consider that help you make a more informed decision:
Required Features & Functionality
Carefully assess platforms based on any non-negotiable functionality that your operations require. From advanced customer group permissions and bulk ordering to API integration capabilities, make sure that any prospective solutions can deliver what you expect to fulfill the business’s day-to-day needs.
Scalability & Growth Potential
As your business expands over the next few years, will your chosen platform scale up smoothly to support increased traffic, sales, and product catalogs without issue? Evaluate both immediate and long-term bandwidth for transactions, data storage, and computing resources.
B2B platforms should be able to keep up with the rhythm at which your business is advancing. To this end, the best software providers have secured robust partnerships with top-notch cloud services that can offer the required infrastructure to accommodate their customers’ growing needs.
Ease of Use & Speed of Deployment
Choosing an intuitive platform with built-in best practices will ensure high employee adoption rates and rapid deployment. Consider whether in-house teams will need extensive training and specialized skills for any ongoing management needs. Also, factor in implementation timelines when aiming for near-term ROI.
The easiness with which your team will be able to incorporate new B2B software into your existing backend solutions will primarily depend on the quality of the documentation, troubleshooting assistance, and integration capabilities offered by the platform you choose.
Data & Analytics Capabilities
The best platforms for B2B e-commerce provide robust analytics and reporting functionalities that allow business owners to access key data in real-time regarding customer behavior, sales metrics, merchandising analytics, and other similar key performance metrics (KPIs) that go beyond just transaction data.
They may also offer integrations with third-party applications that can help manage specific areas of the business such as finance, inventory, logistics, and supply chain seamlessly.
Matching Software Capabilities to the Business’s Goals
In addition to the solution’s overall features, examining how B2B e-commerce platforms align specifically with your established business goals and model will ensure it best supports your strategic priorities.
Business owners and entrepreneurs may focus on the following 4 facets of B2B e-commerce software when making a pick:
B2B vs. B2C Support
If your company mainly sells to other businesses, opt for a platform that is optimized for B2B workflows. This includes access to account management portals, role-based permissions and approvals, integrated purchasing processes, and global compliance standards.
B2B models have very different demands than B2C when it comes to software capabilities as corporate customers do not behave or purchase similarly to regular consumers. In most cases, there are many additional layers of bureaucracy, attention to technical details, and payment-related dynamics that need to be considered.
Complex Catalog & Pricing Management
Businesses with vast inventories and complex pricing models will require robust product information management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) integrations to centralize real-time inventory data across warehouses and 3PLs for accurate order fulfillment.
Account Management Portals
Solutions promoting account manager and buyer self-service via customer portals help free up time for the sales and customer support team. Customers can access self-service modules that allow them to complete their purchase, view order/shipping status, and manage user permissions as needed without requiring the assistance of a customer support representative.
Backend Systems Integration
Minimize manual data entry and risk of error by evaluating integration capabilities with vital backend systems like order management software (OMS), CRM, and ERPs to enable real-time data flows. Rapid and safe data transfers will help optimize your business’s internal processes.
Budget & Resources – How Much Can You Spend?
Beyond software capabilities, it is now time to consider how much the company is willing to invest in a B2B e-commerce platform. For owners and entrepreneurs, this would largely depend on their future sales projections, available resources, and estimated return on investment (ROI).
Here are a couple of factors to consider:
Cloud-Based vs. Self-Hosted Platforms
SaaS or hosted platforms provide lower risk and require less upfront investment in infrastructure, servers, and ongoing security patching. However, they offer less control over customization as vendors tend to offer one-size-fits-all solutions rather than tailored interfaces and working modules.
Meanwhile, self-hosted options allow businesses to customize the solution to their needs but increase the associated overhead substantially.
In-House Management vs. Outsourcing
Consider both current team bandwidth and required e-commerce skillsets before determining whether to outsource platform management entirely rather than hiring staff that takes over the task of overseeing the B2B platform.
Handling support tickets, making modifications to the front end, and making sure that back-end integration and functionalities are working properly can take a lot of time off the hands of your programming team.
A growing business may prefer to outsource these tasks to the software provider and pay for the cost of performing these fixes as needed rather than hiring new people or asking existing members to spend time on this. It will all depend on the perceived value that this adds compared to other tasks the team may be handling at the time.
By carefully aligning a B2B commerce solution with your specific business priorities and workflows, you can ensure that the software can scale to meet current and future demands. As key considerations are weighed during the vendor evaluation process, identifying the platform that offers an optimal blend of functionality, ease of use, and flexibility will set your business up for successful implementation and may increase the project’s return on investment.