Online shops are an easier way of reaching out to global customers. Nowadays, most businesses have online or eCommerce platforms where they sell their products and services. Most people prefer shopping online because it is more convenient than visiting physical stores.
B2B refers to businesses transacting with another business. A good example would be manufacturing companies that sell their products to retail stores. A business-to-consumer (B2C) relationship is defined as an online transaction between a business and one or more customers. B2B transactions are much more complicated than B2C eCommerce.
On the market, there are numerous options for setting up an online store. However, the success of your business will be determined by the eCommerce platform you select.
Issues such as budget may limit which type of eCommerce solution you can go for. In this guide, we share factors to consider when choosing the best B2B eCommerce platform for manufacture businesses.
Factors to consider when choosing the best B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers
Most people access the internet using their smartphones or tablets. A website with a mobile-first design ensures that users can access it easily on their smartphones and PCs. The mobile-first design also improves customer experience on all platforms.
A mobile-first design will also play a hand in search engine rankings. A good responsive site will rank highly on search engine results pages. Users will leave a site if it does not display correctly on their devices. The other thing is that if users don’t spend time on your site, it will negatively affect SEO.
If you’re running a large manufacturing business with a wide catalog of products, you will most likely need an enterprise resource planning app. ERPs and inventory apps will help you manage your product catalog and automate some business processes.
When choosing an eCommerce solution, third-party integration is vital. A good B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers should integrate seamlessly with other third-party apps. ERPs manage most of the core business functions including human resources, so it is necessary to integrate them to sync all of your backend activities.
Managing two or more systems separately can affect productivity in business. In addition, it will create room for errors. It will be more costly to invest in an eCommerce platform that does not support third-party integrations.
How much are you willing to spend? The most expensive eCommerce platform does not mean that you will get the best experience. However, a cheap platform will come with limited features, which will drag your business behind.
The best thing to do is review the features you would want in your online shop. You will use the list to cross-check what is available on the market. Also, factor in things such as how much you will spend on hosting, deployment, maintenance, and IT support.
You can also review what your competitors are using. This will help you narrow down your search depending on your budget or how much you are planning to spend.
The success of your online shop lies in customer or user experience. Most users will leave a site if it takes a lot of time to load. Also, issues such as too many redirects, slow response times, and poor typography will affect the user experience.
You will be competing with manufacturers selling similar products or services to yours. A good B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers should offer personalized shopping processes. For example, you can have the storefront display a list of products that are on sale.
There are plenty of tools and APIs that can help you improve the customer experience. One such example is the use of chatbots, which can offer shoppers real-time support 24/7. Your B2B eCommerce platform’s goal is to be authentic and manage your customers’ expectations directly by encouraging them to buy from you rather than your competitor.
Make sure your B2B eCommerce website platform is simple to use before creating a product. For vendors, it is imperative that they provide their customers with an enjoyable experience and ensure that their customers only see what they are supposed to see.
Online businesses can experience exponential growth after a short time. You need a platform that can handle user requests and heavy traffic. It is important to have the required architecture that will support your business as new users start streaming in.
There have been instances where websites crash after experiencing a surge in traffic. This often leads to downtime and losses, especially if many shoppers cannot access the platform. So, before you invest in a B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers, check if it can scale.
We recommend going for an eCommerce site with cloud-native support. These sites are built to scale and offer 99.9% uptime even during busy days or hours.
Pricing and Ordering Features
B2B buyers may have different payment options compared to B2C. Some buyers may have different payment, invoicing, and ordering plans. It is essential for you to get a platform that can support different pricing and ordering features.
The pricing and ordering features should set things such as minimum order quantity, shipping rules, and custom prices. It should also have shopping carts, currency converters, and payment gateways that support different payment options.
This is very important as you might encounter technical hitches at any time. Issues may arise during deployment or after, so it is necessary to go for a product that has a great technical support team.
The teams should be able to respond to your claims as soon as possible. Remember, any time you experience downtime, you will be incurring massive losses. You can always look out for customer reviews to get a feel about what other clients are saying about the service.
Marketing and SEO
Setting up an online shop is very easy. However, the hard work kicks in when you have to create brand awareness and market your online shop. Nowadays, SEO plays a very important role in online marketing and brand awareness.
Many people will only shop from sites that they know about. Most B2B platforms come with SEO APIs that help you create optimized content. For example, the SEO APIs will help you curate SEO-friendly product descriptions.
Cloud technology provides many benefits, especially for services that are provided as platform-as-a-service or software-as-a-service. You get almost 99% uptime and better security compared to third-party hosting services.
When choosing a B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers, makes sure it has cloud-native support. We mentioned this when discussing scalability. An eCommerce site with cloud-native support will make it easy for you to scale your business.
Cloud services are also more secure, and this is very important since your site will be handling sensitive data. In addition, the cloud is quite fast, which will boost your site performance and overall customer experience.
Headless Over Traditional
eCommerce sites can be built using either headless or traditional architecture. Modern B2B eCommerce platforms for manufacturers such as Virto Commerce are built using headless architecture. Headless architecture comes with plenty of benefits.
In headless architecture, the backend and frontend are separated or decoupled, which promotes agile development. Headless platforms are also more secure compared to traditional eCommerce sites.
When choosing a B2B eCommerce solution, we recommend going for one built using headless architecture.
As a manufacturer, you could be producing various products under different brand names. Some eCommerce platforms offer this feature, which allows you to open several stores and manage them from one admin console.
With this feature, you can deliver better customer experiences. This feature will also come in handy for businesses that manage multinational brands operating across various countries and tax regulations.
Business Automation Functions
Your site will be handling plenty of requests every day. You need a system that can keep track of every order or transaction. Having separate apps to manage or monitor the core business operations on your platform can be hectic. It will also be very expensive and will hamper productivity.
A good B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers should automate processes such as generating reports, term negotiations, and contract management. This way, you can streamline all of your business processes and reduce human errors.
Choosing the best B2B eCommerce platform for manufacturers can be pretty challenging due to the number of apps that are present on the market. Make sure you take your time reviewing the best platforms on the market before settling on the one that meets your business needs.
You can also consult an IT expert to help choose the right platform. They are more experienced and will provide professional input that will come in handy when making your decision. Even though you will have to pay consultancy fees, it will be well worth it.
Also, consider how long it will take your employees to learn how to use some of the core features that will come with the app. This will play a role in how streamlined your business operations will be.
Dennis is an SEO and marketing specialist with a Bachelor’s in Marketing from the University of London. Besides researching trending topics in the marketing world, he also enjoys playing his guitar and going for walks with his dog Remy.