Not all B2B eCommerce platforms are built equal. With online self-service options set to skyrocket, there’s more demand than ever for a B2B solution that puts both the customer and merchant first.
Of course, that solution might look like a combination of platforms (like Shopify or BigCommerce) and overlaying tech (like SparkLayer 👀) that adds extra functionality.
Whether you’re shifting your B2C model to a hybrid offering or are a B2B-only retailer, the eCommerce solution you choose will have a huge impact on your success. We’ve rounded up the top 8 features you need to grow your B2B eCommerce business in 2024…
1. Seamless ordering experience
These days, tech has to be intuitive otherwise it simply won’t survive.
Step one is ensuring your site is responsive across whatever devices your customers use most often, whether that’s mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Many platforms offer default themes for your B2B site to ensure everything works across all devices without you needing to get involved in any customisation or coding.
Keep the B2B journey as close to a typical B2C journey as possible - people are used to shopping online as customers, so give them a similar experience. Providing a familiar, intuitive experience will keep your B2B customers coming back for more - all while reducing the number of help tickets for your Support team, enabling you to add more value elsewhere.
2. B2B login screen
This is crucial for any eCommerce business catering to a hybrid customer base, so make sure your solution offers this. By adding a B2B login wall, you’re ensuring that your B2C customers aren’t able to access any B2B pricing or shipping options.
This also creates a better experience for your B2B customers as they’re being presented with a fully bespoke platform that meets their specific needs. While the buying journey should be very similar, it’s important to keep your B2C and B2B shoppers separate to avoid confusion with pricing, shipping, and stock levels.
3. Custom pricing
Want the option to set minimum order levels based on custom parameters? Determine your units of measurement (price, weight, number of boxes/ pallets etc) and establish pricing rules as needed for your B2B customers.
For bigger, bulkier items, you might set a weight minimum to ensure the shipping fee is mutually beneficial. Equally, you may set a maximum order spend on B2B orders to ensure you have enough stock left for your B2C buyers. Choose a solution that gives you complete control over how your customers shop with you.
4. Hybrid inventory management
When it comes to hybrid eCommerce, stock management is key to creating a positive customer experience - for everyone.
If you’re selling the same products across B2C and B2B, you may want to set stock reserves or limits to ensure each customer base’s orders can be fulfilled. Setting stock aside purely for your B2C customers ensures their orders can be completed without bulk orders from your B2B customers impacting availability.
5. Bespoke checkout fields
Your B2B eCommerce solution will ideally provide the functionality to create custom fields in your checkout process. This might be something as simple as having a field for B2B customers to add a PO number as part of their payment method, or adding the option for your B2B customers to enter their preferred shipping date.
Having a platform that offers this level of customisation provides a truly self-service experience for your B2B customers. There are fewer manual tasks involved, and your B2B merchants have the level of independence they want.
6. Cross-platform integration
For B2B eCommerce businesses, integration is key!
As B2B eCommerce continues to grow and evolve, so too will the capabilities of the platforms available. This is why a solution that can integrate with both legacy and future software is key to the longevity of your business’ success.
You need to consider integration with inventory management systems, ERPs, and accounting software to ensure your B2B eCommerce platform provides the full suite of services that customers need now - and in the future….
7. Saved shopping lists
Ordered groceries online before? Then you know how great it feels to see a list of your previously ordered items, ready for you to quickly add them to your basket without trawling through the entire website. So - why not offer this feature to B2B customers, too?
Having an eCommerce platform that enables merchants to save lists of their regular purchases hugely boosts the level of customer experience you’re able to offer. B2B customers are typically ordering the same items repeatedly - this B2B buying behaviour drives the need for a shopping list, as they are replenishing their own inventory with stock from our merchant. They can quickly reorder the same items from the same website with one click, massively simplifying the process. Shopping lists can also be imported via CSV file, with a list of relevant SKUs uploaded to the customers’ account and easily added to their basket.
8. Masquerade ordering
While only a few platforms are currently offering this feature (we’re one of them 🙋), masquerade ordering is highly sought after in the world of B2B eCommerce! Sales teams are still an essential part of a lot of B2B eCommerce - so having them work in tandem with your site is really powerful.
This functionality essentially allows a Sales rep to order on behalf of their customers - they can log into their B2B customer’s account, create shopping baskets, update shipping details, and place orders using the preferred payment method.
Look out for inline price editing, too - this allows Sales reps to adjust prices while logged into their customers’ accounts, adding custom discounts or agreed rates where applicable.
If you’re launching a hybrid function on your existing B2C website, or looking to upgrade your existing B2B website, we’d love to help. You can get in touch with our team here.
Why not sign up for our newsletters while you’re at it? Don’t worry - we’re too passionate about tech to be sales-focused all the time, so we promise to provide helpful resources and advice.