E-commerce is no longer just limited to or about B2C (business to consumer) transactions. According to Forrester Research, the US B2B (business to business) e-Commerce market will reach $1.2 trillion over the next five years.
While B2B sales have typically been defined by human interactions and staffing large departments of skilled (and expensive) sales professionals, B2B e-commerce provides a welcome element of self-service.
According to Forrester, more than 74 percent of B2B buyers research at least half of their work purchases online. By providing useful information at every stage of the buying process, and enabling buyers to act on their own to finally close the deal, you’ll be well-positioned to grab your share of this growing market.
But B2B e-commerce is about so much more than empowering business professionals to buy what they want, when they want it. There are many subtle nuances that separate B2B e-commerce from it’s more well-known cousin, B2C e-commerce.
If you’re curious about making the leap to B2B e-commerce from a more traditional sales process, the next step is finding the right platform.
Choosing an E-commerce Platform for Your B2B Business
Generally speaking, there are many e-commerce platforms to consider. The issue with many of these platforms has to do with a primary focus on B2C e-commerce transactions. That’s not to say that they can’t be used for B2B e-commerce, just that they weren’t necessarily designed for it. That said, the most prosperous B2B e-commerce companies realize that by choosing a platform that isn’t an exact fit, they’re automatically creating limitations that will eventually need to be overcome, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and countless staff hours of involvement in making the eventual transition.
Some of the issues that inevitably arise from choosing a B2C platform for B2B e-commerce include things like:
- Popular solutions are oftentimes “one-size-fits-all”. For the general population, and e-commerce websites just getting their start, this is fine. For a growing B2B e-commerce business, this immediately adds a limitation to what you’ll be capable of on that platform in the future.
- Most e-commerce solutions offer a number of backend tools to help users manage various elements of their store, but these don’t necessarily integrate with third party tools, or existing company IT infrastructure. This can be problematic when it comes to providing a great (and high-converting) customer experience.
- Solutions like Shopify are hard to scale after a certain point, as the software was built with beginners in mind—not e-commerce giants or B2B businesses.
Magento E-commerce: A B2B E-commerce Powerhouse
Magento is the e-commerce platform worth your consideration, with the flexibility to power any B2C or B2B business. The latest version of the software is known as “Magento 2.0”, and contains many improvements over the first iteration. Compared to the aforementioned e-commerce platforms, it offers more powerful customization tools, not to mention a whole host of additional features relevant to B2B users.
From a technical standpoint, the Magento e-commerce platform offers:
- Open-source software. Open-source software is editable/amended by members of the community, so there are a lot of extensions (like a WordPress plugins) available to customize the installation to your specific needs.
- Fast page load. Magento was built specifically for it’s use as a complete e-commerce platform, unlike Woocommerce, which acts as an extension for the WordPress CMS. Optimized for prime e-commerce performance, it’s one of the fastest platforms, which will help with SEO and providing a great user experience. It also features great mobile responsiveness. Don’t underestimate the power of having a platform optimized as such.
- Completely customizable. Magento is completely customizable for any business need, with an intuitive backend system, and easy integrations with third party software programs. It’s easily scalable from beginner to advanced e-commerce needs, and can grow with you as needed.
The following represent Magento e-commerce features most sought after by those looking for a B2B e-commerce solution:
- Personalization in the form of recommending related products to customers.
- In-depth search functionality according to things like product specifications, SKU, price, and even availability.
- One-click purchasing and other related elements for ensuring an easy buyer experience.
- Easy order management, from both the buyer and seller’s perspectives. Additionally, advanced analytics data for understanding how customers interact with your e-commerce platform, to make improvements as necessary.
- Lead nurturing to improve conversions from customers in every stage of the buyer’s journey, and to encourage self-service purchasing. A solid lead nurturing system can act as a sales department of its own.
Still not convinced? Magento calls out the following features as being specifically advantageous to their B2B e-commerce patrons:
- Robust account management, with the ability to set various roles and levels of permission for clients.
- Streamline bulk orders with easy rules for applying discounts and per-unit pricing.
- Master inventory management by putting the customer in charge of delivery scheduling and inventory tracking.
- Negotiated pricing terms since every customer and situation is different.
Based on real-world usage statistics, the following elements represent some of the most important B2B e-commerce features:
- Custom pricing,
- Quotes & negotiations,
- Quick Order,
- Credit Limits,
- Company structure support,
For many businesses, almost 100% of their requirements are covered by Magento 2.0 standard features. Without even adding any extensions or custom functionality, they’re well on their way to B2B e-commerce success simply by choosing the right platform!
Of course, the hardest part of transitioning to B2B e-commerce often relates to a lack of practical experience. So once you’ve decided to go the B2B e-commerce route, and have picked the perfect platform (ahem—Magento e-commerce), you’ll next want to consider the perfect partner in actually building out your e-commerce website.
Magento and Le Site = It’s a Match!
Le Site is an e-commerce agency that specializes in Magento solutions. We like to let our work speak for itself, and it has, thanks to a recent award for “World’s Best B2B UX 2017”, from none other than Magento, themselves!
As a Magento Enterprise partner, Le Site can provide value no matter where you are in your e-commerce project. Whether you’re just getting started with B2B e-commerce, or need some guidance after a failed attempt, we offer strategy sessions to get on the right track. If you’re more interested in structural assistance, we offer development services that incorporate UX design, and maintenance services to keep you up and running after launch. If your website is launched, we can help with optimization and acquisition.
Magento E-commerce for B2B Companies
Getting started with Magento e-commerce begins with a simple, no-risk call. Get in touch to plan the first steps of your future B2B e-commerce sites. We’re excited to bring your vision to reality, and to help your B2B e-commerce project with profitability from launch!