In the case of B2B systems, sales are very often based on commercial relations between enterprises. B2B systems usually serve from several dozens to several hundred customers, performing cyclical orders. This is a significant difference compared to B2C systems that support thousands of clients with a relatively low value of a single transaction. The specificity of B2B sales requires a significant change in approach when implementing a sales platform in a company.
MAIN ASSUMPTIONS OF THE B2B SYSTEM
A well-prepared B2B system should support key business processes of the company, which can include:
ORDER OFFERING PROCESS
Order offering is a significant difference compared to traditional online stores servicing B2C transactions. The high value of a single transaction means that before an actual sale takes place, it is necessary to offer an order. Therefore, the customer does not physically order, it is offered, i.e. the customer adds products to the cart, but instead of placing an order, he can submit an inquiry. After receiving it, the website administrator proposes the final price of the order, which is determined on the basis of past relations, purchase history, and current possibilities. After determining the price of the order, it is sent to the customer by email. When the customer accepts the order, the administrator receives information about it in the B2B system.
Parallel to the B2B offer process, there should be an equivalent standard order process, operating on the basis of including variables such as discounts for groups and customers, as well as discounts depending on the number of products ordered. A well-prepared system should also secure transactions in such a way that there is no sale of products below the purchase price.
CALCULATION AND INVOICING PROCESS
The B2B system should take into account the billing and invoicing process, to this end it should offer a standardized API to exchange information about orders between systems, eg in the form of the REST API. When exchanging information on orders, the system should appropriately distribute the discounts on the order for particular product prices, in accordance with the practice adopted in the company. Depending on whether the customer is an individual customer or a company, the system should take into account differences in the way VAT is calculated, so that the fiscal printer will not be blocked due to differences in the method of taxes calculation. In the case of external suppliers, the system should also be able to send copies of orders to third-party systems, so that the ordering process is fully automated.
THE PROCESS OF LOGISTICS MANAGEMENT (STORAGE)
The B2B system should give the possibility to personalize order processing, including the status, by the possibility of assigning individual order statuses adequate to the processes functioning in a given company. Very often, such a system must also support the service of many warehouses – the minimum of the main warehouse and the e-commerce warehouse, and very often individual warehouses of stationary outlets. The choice of the warehouse from which the order is placed very often is one of the key requirements for B2B systems.
MANAGEMENT OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH BUSINESS PARTNERS
The ability to segment customers depending on the volume and frequency of orders is a key issue in a well-functioning B2B system. The system should allow efficient creation of sales reports indicating the best prospective customers.
THE CIRCULATION OF DOCUMENTS IN ELECTRONIC FORM
The B2B system should enable the exchange of documents in electronic form, with the possibility of downloading it for the client. The system should, therefore, be able to download documents from the ERP system either in the form of binary files or in the form of a link, making the files available directly from the company’s servers.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A B2B AND B2C SYSTEM
In addition to the need to support B2B-specific processes mentioned above, the system should also enable the implementation of a number of additional processes. One of the most important is the ability to handle requests for new partners, besides the basic data as in the case of B2C sales, the system should also provide the possibility of attaching documents enabling the verification of a potential partner. Only after confirming the data by the website administrator, the account should be activated in the system.
B2B systems often require the functionality of limiting the presentation of the offer for an individual partner, different partners have access only to the designated part of the company’s offer.
The possibility of mass orders by entering the SKU code, loading a CSV file containing product SKUs or creating lists of your favorite products with a fast ordering process as part of the need.
A good B2B system should also include an e-procurement system that allows for efficient management of all partners’ purchases, from assigning dedicated roles, budgets up to places of enterprise formation cost.