Do you produce your own goods and want to develop your business online? Are you a wholesaler and you want to reach a wider group of customers? Or maybe you dream of expanding your existing e-warehouse and increasing your assortment? If you answered "YES" to any of the above questions, we have a solution for you! It is the implementation of the appropriate e-commerce platform that will answer all your needs! How can I do that? We invite you to our guide, in which we will show you step by step how to choose and implement a B2B platform!
What do you have to consider when choosing the right B2B platform?
There are many options for implementing the B2B e-commerce platform on the market. By analyzing them, you will probably have to choose one of three possible solutions: boxed, dedicated and based on open source systems. What is each of them characterized by?
A box solution, i.e. a commercial e-commerce platform
Boxed solutions are available ready-made platforms that you can use right out of the box. Their owner is the manufacturer and only he has the right to modify them. By choosing this variant of the software, you use it on a license basis.
This is the fastest solution to run. You can use the ready-made sales platform where you can place your products almost immediately. Unfortunately, this option also has its drawbacks. Among them we can distinguish:
• No ownership of the software. This feature, in the case of B2B activities conducted only or mostly on the Internet, can be a big problem.
• Dependence on one supplier, i.e. the platform manufacturer. It means that you cannot cooperate with other service providers. As well as the inability to optimize the maintenance and development costs of the platform, the lack of influence on the deadline for order fulfillment and the modifications that are sometimes impossible or reluctantly created at the request of a single platform user.
A dedicated solution is a tailor-made e-commerce platform. As a result, they are able to meet all your company's business requirements. Unfortunately, they are also associated with the highest costs among all other solutions. Technological and implementation works also last the longest.
If such a solution is chosen, it also becomes important who will deal with it. Will you involve your own IT department? Do they have enough time, resources and competences for this? In turn, if you bet on a software house that will prepare the platform, without good documentation and maintaining appropriate programming standards, it may be extremely difficult to transfer the project to another programming company later.
Platforms based on open source systems
Among open source platforms, you will find products from industry leaders, such as Magento, PrestaShop or Sylius. The choice of such a solution is certainly a great saving in money compared to, for example, dedicated platforms. From the outset, you get a system with a certain set of functions. However, you don't have to operate the tool yourself. You can easily find a company that specializes in servicing a given e-commerce engine.
The undeniable advantage of the open source platform is also that you are the owner of the whole. Although it is worth emphasizing in the contract with the platform developer that you have the right to make changes and modifications and to maintain them on your own servers.
What are the costs of implementing a B2B platform?
Te costs of implementing e-commerce platforms start at tens of thousands of zlotys and can even reach several million zlotys. The final price of the platform is mainly influenced by:
- Functions that you want to equip the platform with.
- The scale of your business - the number of owned products and contractors with whom you establish cooperation.
- The number of markets you serve - currencies, countries and languages.
- The structure of your company to which you need to adjust the sales platform.
- The number and type of dedicated systems that must be integrated with your e-commerce platform, such as ERP, CRM, WMS, analytical systems and marketing tools.
If you change the platform to another, you also have to take into account additional costs for data migration. The more experienced agency you choose, the higher the amount will be requested. However, in such a case, if the agency offers a larger team, efficient solutions, appropriate procedures and programming standards, it is definitely worth the money.
What characteristic functions does the B2B platform have?
E-commerce platforms are designed in a way to make it easier for customers to make purchases, and for owners to handle the stores and contractors themselves. It is therefore about the automation of certain processes and the ability to protect yourself from possible losses that may occur. That is why the functions of e-commerce platforms can be divided into several areas.
1. Navigation and order preparation
The first area is navigation and order preparation. What characterizes B2B sales the most is the large number of products ordered. For this reason, it is extremely important to optimize the solution so that the customer can quickly find the products he is interested in and add them to the shopping cart. So it is about the possibility of adding several items at once, renewing the previous order, or adding items directly from the CSV file, e.g. with their codes and the appropriate quantity. With slightly more complex solutions, it is also important to prepare many shopping baskets in parallel. It will allow you to make one purchase - preparing one order, e.g. for several departments of a given company.
2. Settlements with the service provider
Settlements and finances are other important elements that characterize B2B e-commerce platforms. The ability to share invoices online in the account panel, information about overdue invoices along with automatic payment reminder or availability of purchase credit are extremely important elements that improve the company's work. Thanks to them, you will save a lot of time spent on customer service.
If your sales system will have the above features, you will easily provide your customers with options such as, for example, the ability to place orders without prepayment up to the sales credit limit or the ability to order only with prepayment with overdue invoices. In this way you will save time and you will not have to worry too much about the financial liquidity on the platform.
3. Several users from one company shopping
It is often the case that more than one person in a business is responsible for shopping. For this reason, a good sales platform should allow its users to create multiple accounts within one company. They can even be accounts with completely different permissions. This type of solution guarantees that each branch of the organization can prepare its own order. In turn, a person from the headquarters can check each of them for content and budget, modify them or accept and allow the purchase.
4. Price lists and discounts offered
It is known that an indispensable element of each sale is granting discounts, and in the case of B2B sales, individual price negotiation. The e-commerce platform can also help in this respect!
When it comes to discounts, thanks to the B2B platform you can automate their calculation. This is done thanks to loyalty discounts for regular customers, discounts depending on purchases made previously, or through temporary promotions.
What's more, the platform should be flexible and reflect the price lists used in the company. Most often, product prices are managed through ERP systems. However, the B2B sales platform must be able to map individual prices for selected customers.
Tools for professional traders
The main task of each e-commerce B2B platform is to support the work of the trader. Why? Often, especially during large transactions, starting cooperation with a contractor requires a lot of commitment and personal meetings. These types of meetings are a great opportunity to present your sales system to a potential customer as a tool that additionally strengthens the value and competitive advantage of your company.
What's more, the B2B platform can also be equipped with functions that enable the preparation of offers for individual customers who prefer offline transactions. An example of this type of function is the ability for the seller to log in to the customer's account and prepare an offer for him in a PDF file, or even place an order on his behalf.
The solutions mentioned above accelerate the work of salespeople and allow them to have a more pleasant contact with the customer and to serve more people that are interested.
What is the future of the e-Commerce platform?
We can certainly assume that it is bright :) Most of the above-mentioned functions are not an addition that must be created when designing a sales tool. On the contrary - they are becoming the basic equipment of the B2B e-commerce platform.
So in what direction will the platforms develop in the coming years? As in the case of other technological solutions, the creators will most likely focus on an artificial intelligence. Its use will be possible, for example, for conducting sales analysis, automatic ordering and product recommendation. The future is also the voice control of the platform, which can be used, for example, to place and prepare orders for customers. Chatbots will also be popular, as they relieve sellers and answer many user questions.
All of this is likely to happen in the next few years. However, now you should focus primarily on creating a solid platform that will respond to your current needs. If you have additional questions related to the choice of a B2B e-commerce platform, do not hesitate to contact us!