As a B2B or D2C retailer, choosing an ecommerce platform is one of the most important business decisions you’ll make. Whether you’re aiming to sell to local clients or expand into new markets around the globe, your ecommerce platform is the backbone of your online business and will have a major impact on its long-term success and growth. And since B2B and D2C businesses tend to be more complex than B2C companies, it’s essential to choose a solution designed to meet the needs of B2B and D2C retailers.
But how do you know what to look for in a B2B ecommerce platform for? Here are the top five factors to consider.
1. Easy ERP integration
If you’re selling B2B or D2C products online, there’s a good chance you’re already using ERP (enterprise resource planning) software. For large retailers with a wide range of product offerings and thousands of SKUs, it would be next to impossible to manage inventory without an ERP platform—but small businesses also benefit from ERP, which helps maximize efficiency through automation.
ERP software unites all of your core back-office functions (such as inventory management, accounting, and human resources) in one integrated system, helping you manage your day-to-day operations more efficiently. A B2B ecommerce platform should offer seamless ERP integration so that all activity associated with your online store is synchronized with your back-end operations. For example, when a customer makes a purchase through your web store, their order is transferred to your ERP, which automatically generates an invoice and updates your inventory and customer data. Since your ecommerce platform and ERP are constantly communicating with each other to update and synchronize data across all of your business processes, there’s no need to carry out these updates manually.
All this to say that it’s vital to choose an ecommerce platform with native ERP integration. You wouldn’t want to invest in an ecommerce solution only to discover that it’s not compatible with your ERP, forcing you to either maintain the two systems separately or purchase costly add-ons designed to connect them. By opting for an ecommerce platform that’s specifically designed to integrate with your ERP, you’ll also get your online store up and running faster. For instance, if all of your product information is stored in your ERP, your new ecommerce platform will automatically transfer that data to your web store, and customers can begin shopping your catalogue right away.
2. Your budget
Although paying for the most expensive ecommerce platform doesn’t guarantee a better experience, you should be wary of the cheapest options on the market. The least-expensive packages usually lack key features, and you’ll wind up spending more in the long run as you buy add-ons from third-party providers. Instead, take the time to carefully assess what you need from your ecommerce platform, and decide on your budget based on that. Consider how much you’re willing to spend on monthly hosting, maintenance, design, web development, and IT resources. Many providers offer packages that bundle all of these features for a competitive price.
Another way to save money is to opt for an ecommerce platform that is PCI-certified. Maintaining a safe, secure, and compliant online store can be expensive and time-consuming, so it’s best to choose a platform that comes with full certification and guaranteed data protection for your customers and your business.
All-in-one platforms such as the one offered by k-ecommerce are ideal for helping you stay within your budget. These platforms provide all of the services required to keep your web store running smoothly—infrastructure, development, managed support, and technical staff—through a single vendor, so your costs will remain predictable. This option is particularly beneficial if you have a limited budget for IT resources, as the provider’s technical staff will serve as an extension of your team.
Take it from Canadian manufacturer Techno-Fab, which implemented an ERP-integrated ecommerce solution from k-ecommerce to optimize its B2B web store. Since the specialists at k-ecommerce handle the technological aspects of the web store and integration, Techno-Fab was able to grow their online business without hiring additional staff.
Be sure to select an ecommerce platform that is designed to grow with your business. Even if your online store doesn’t experience heavy traffic just yet, it’s important to have the infrastructure in place to handle the increased demand that will come as your business attracts new customers and scales up. If you were to experience a sudden surge in visitors, you wouldn’t want your site to crash—so before you decide on an ecommerce platform, investigate whether it can keep up with traffic. Cloud-based ecommerce platforms like the one offered by k-ecommerce are the best choice as they are built to scale with you and maintain maximum speed and performance even during peak periods.
4. User experience
Whereas B2C retailers typically sell the same products or services to all of their customers, B2B companies often tailor their offering to individual customers. Traditionally, this personalized sales process has required B2B customers to speak with a sales rep before making a purchase. These days, though, customers expect the flexibility to buy at any time of day, which means that your B2B web store needs to offer a personalized buying process that is easy to navigate.
Fortunately, ecommerce platform providers now offer many tools to help B2B retailers deliver a customized user experience, which translates into higher conversions and more sales. For instance, k-ecommerce offers Multi-User Management, which allows you to set up different purchasing workflows to cater to different types of customers. Another feature, ChatBeacon integration, allows sales reps to assist shoppers in real time through live chat.
Responsiveness is equally important for a good user experience, so make sure your ecommerce storefront—and the entire transaction process—is optimized for all devices. k-ecommerce web stores are optimized for mobile through the use of responsive web design and offer an intuitive checkout experience through k-ecommerce integrated payment.
5. Technical support
No matter which ecommerce platform you choose, you’re bound to encounter a technical issue or need a question answered at some point. And when you do, there’s nothing worse than waiting hours or days for a response. Before committing to a platform, make sure you’ll be able to get in touch with a real person who will promptly assist you with any problems.
To learn more about how k-ecommerce can help you optimize your B2B ecommerce site, contact us today.