B2B eCommerce website development requires a different approach than a standard B2C eCommerce site. While the underlying principles of selling online are the same for all eCommerce websites, a B2B eCommerce website must account for a unique customer base.
When you are selling to other businesses instead of consumers, certain features are more important to your online store’s success than in consumer settings. Traditionally, B2B eCommerce websites have shied away from some design choices and elements commonly employed by B2C online retailers. However, in recent years, B2B eCommerce websites have used more of the personalized designs typically found on popular eCommerce websites.
This post will help you understand the most important features of a B2B eCommerce website. Plus, we will cover some important considerations your company should consider before beginning eCommerce website development.
Important Features for a B2B eCommerce Website
To tailor the Customer Experience of your B2B eCommerce website to your business customers, you need to include the features that are most important and helpful to them. Some of these features are common staples of consumer eCommerce websites, but they might need to be fine-tuned to meet the specific needs of business customers. The most important features for a B2B eCommerce website to include are:
- Advanced search tools
- Business-centric payment options
- Dynamic pricing
- Order tracking
- Real-time inventory updates
- Detailed product information
- Bulk discounts
- Mobile solutions
Advanced Search Tools
If you want a powerful eCommerce website, it needs to have advanced search tools. If your business customers cannot quickly find the exact products they are looking for, they will take their business elsewhere. So instead of relying on out-of-the-box solutions or third-party extensions, invest in a custom search tool to help your customers navigate your website.
The top features to include in your search tool are autocomplete search strings, typo correction, related product images, and the ability for users to save their searches. If your eCommerce website features many different products, you need an advanced search tool to help your customers find exactly what they are looking for.
Business-Centric Payment Options
Companies pay for goods and services in a different way than consumers. Therefore, your B2B eCommerce website needs to account for the purchase habits of business customers. For example, consumers typically pay for goods and services at purchase, known as cash-and-carry.
On the other hand, businesses typically prefer to open lines of credit with their suppliers to simplify payments. Remember, the more payment options you offer your customers, the better your chance of making a sale. Newer payment services like PayPal and Square can also be configured for B2B transactions.
Dynamic pricing models not only help your business realize greater profits but also help satisfy your customers. B2B eCommerce sees prices fluctuate based on real-time market and supply conditions. Therefore, your business needs to include dynamic pricing on its B2B eCommerce website to quickly capture upside, avoid volume losses, and help customers speed up decision-making.
Order tracking is an important feature for consumers, but it is even more critical for businesses because they rely on punctual shipments. Therefore, when developing your B2B eCommerce website, ensure that order tracking is included for your customers. In addition to allowing your business customers to proactively track their orders, you should also send them regular status updates on the progress of their shipment via email.
Real-Time Inventory Updates
Companies make large purchases and require specific quantities of the products they purchase. During the web development process, integrate a real-time inventory feature. Keeping your customers informed about your real-time inventory levels will help them make informed purchase decisions. In addition, if real-time inventory is visible, you won’t accidentally sell products you don’t have in stock. Failing to deliver the proper amount of goods to your business customers will lead them to abandon your eCommerce website and business.
Detailed Product Information
Every eCommerce website should have detailed product information and photos. However, detailed product information is critical for a B2B eCommerce website. B2B orders are generally high-value orders. Therefore, your eCommerce website needs to provide customers with rich product descriptions, several photos, and FAQs. The more information you provide your business customers, the more likely you will make a sale. Businesses need to make smart decisions about the products they buy. If you don’t provide detailed information, spec sheets, measurements, etc., you will miss many opportunities.
B2B eCommerce websites typically sell products in bulk. As a result, if your business wants to be competitive, it must offer bulk discounts. Bulk discounts are not only a great way to attract new customers, but it is a great way to retain your current customer base. Therefore, you should include bulk pricing on all the product pages on your B2B eCommerce website.
We live in a mobile-first world. Your B2B eCommerce website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. It might even be in the best interests of your business to develop a mobile app for your online store. Even if you don’t want to invest in a mobile app now, you need to have a mobile responsive website. Everyone uses their phone to browse the internet, and mCommerce is only getting larger as mobile experiences improve across the board.
Important Considerations Before Beginning B2B eCommerce Web Development
Before building a B2B eCommerce website, there are a few important things your organization needs to consider, including:
- Target customers
- eCommerce platform
- Organizational resources
Before beginning eCommerce website development, you need to know your target audience. Do market research, analyze your competitors, and understand the pain points in your niche market. Narrowing down a target audience for B2B businesses is more difficult than for B2C businesses because there are several different types of individuals making buying decisions for their respective businesses. Do diligent market research and fine-tune your B2B eCommerce website to the needs of your target audience.
There are several different routes your business can take when it comes to eCommerce platforms. For example, your business could use hosted solutions like Shopify, Wix, etc., or a non-hosted option. Typically, businesses choose hosted solutions because these options host your B2B eCommerce website and provide software and other tools to help you build your website.
Non-hosted eCommerce solutions are technically more customizable, but platforms like Shopify, for example, offer almost all of the customization options of a non-hosted solution with additional benefits like third-party extensions, Shopify Plus Partners, and more.
Finally, you must consider your organizational resources before embarking on B2B eCommerce website development. Can you invest in mobile app development? How much are you willing to invest in your B2B eCommerce website? It is vital to consider your organizational resources before development begins so you can allocate them where they will have the largest impact.
Building B2B eCommerce websites requires more consideration and technical features than B2C eCommerce websites. Don’t allow your business to ignore modern eCommerce web design in favor of the typical B2B eCommerce website design. You must treat your B2B eCommerce website like a personal representation of your brand image. If you need help deciding the best approach to take when building your B2B eCommerce website, reach out to an app development partner.