Which features make the best ecommerce platform? That depends on whom you ask.
B2B ecommerce is exploding. A majority of the B2B companies who do not already have an ecommerce web site plan to launch one within the next two years. And global B2B ecommerce sales are expected to overtake B2C sales by 2020.
For most companies, then, it’s not so much a question of if as of when. But just as different industries and businesses have different needs, even the different B2B decision makers within a given company have different ecommerce requirements.
So here’s a look at the best ecommerce features according to the key players in a B2B organization. Does the perfect solution exist? Let’s find out!
The CEO’s goal is the growth of the company as a whole. On the one hand, this means increasing the top and bottom lines to maximize revenue and profit. On the other, it means boosting the company’s operational efficiency with a view to raising productivity—all while reducing costs.
To keep costs at a minimum, the CEO is an expert at identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks. But that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a risk taker. Quite the opposite. The CEO gains the competitive edge by taking strategic risks that keep the company at the forefront of new technology.
CEOs are keenly aware of the growth potential ecommerce offers. But they will hold out for a solution that will maximize ROI and bring the company sustainable, long-term advantages relative to the investment made.
The perfect solution: CEOs want an all-in-one ecommerce solution. They look for a platform that can meet all the company’s marketing, accounting, and tech needs. Security and stability are equally important, as are flexibility and scalability. The best ecommerce platform is able to grow alongside your business.
Marketing’s mission in life is to deliver more qualified leads (and, especially for B2C companies, more web store conversions).
In practical terms, this means that marketing is continually optimizing the customer experience. They analyze customer behavior with tools like Google Analytics and refine the ecommerce strategy accordingly.
In an ideal setting, every web store element—particularly the conversion funnel—is fine-tuned for optimal targeting based on data. When the data changes, marketing needs to be able to update the website on the fly.
The perfect solution: Marketing requires a powerful, user-friendly Content Management System that non-technical personnel can use autonomously. Google Analytics integration and built-in SEO tools are essential. A dynamic multimedia product catalog with images, video, descriptions and specs can best attract and convert new leads. The solution should feature marketing tools like cross-sell and upsell capabilities, personalized coupons, web promotions and gift cards. Marketers like quick and easy access to pricing, quotes, and up-to-date product availability. An optimized conversion funnel (ideally with one-page checkout) can dramatically lower the cart abandonment rate.
IT oversees the company’s technical infrastructure. Their goal is to measurably increase the efficiency of operations and the influx of revenue. They maintain the integrity of the company’s various systems while integrating them for optimal synergy.
System and data security are of paramount importance to IT. Stability is equally vital, since IT is responsible for keeping the web site up and running smoothly. To the greatest extent possible, IT seeks to leverage existing technology investments as part of a unified system.
The perfect solution: ERP-integrated ecommerce will always be the first choice of a CIO or CTO. Comprehensive business data shared in real time between the ERP, CRM and web store prevent “siloed” product and price information. Automating key business processes like order fulfillment and invoicing accelerate turnaround while eliminating human error. IT departments look for PCI-Certified solutions to guarantee data security. For stability and infrastructural scalability, they prefer a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.
Finance optimizes the order-to-cash process. Much like the CEO, they look to lower operational costs and increase overall productivity. In particular, their aim is to minimize or even eliminate expensive mistakes such as order, pricing, and inventory errors. They also ensure accuracy of the negotiated customer level online. ROI assessment and calculation tools are important to understanding long-term cost and value to the company.
To do all this, Finance needs access to full, up-to-date business data at all times. This includes comprehensive order, invoice, and customer information.
The perfect solution: Finance and IT have a lot in common when it comes to their ecommerce requirements. Both look for an ERP-integrated solution that unifies business data and ensures accuracy. Finance especially looks for pricing and order integration. They also want the security of a PCI Certified solution. Configuring different levels of user access to the website’s back end is another important security element. Powerful self-service account features give customers and staff alike easy access to all relevant data. Dashboards for detailed reporting and order information are key.
Closely allied with Marketing, Sales aims to find and close new opportunities as quickly as possible. They have revenue quotas that they need to attain and, ideally, exceed.
However, the self-service ecommerce paradigm coupled with the sheer volume of choice facing consumers has shifted the sales rep’s goals. Rather than a focus on closing, Sales in ecommerce often functions as a customer guide in choosing a product.
To do this, they need quick access to tools and content that help them support the buyer’s journey. Sales and product information siloed across multiple systems presents a major challenge.
The perfect solution: Like everyone else, Sales benefits from an ERP-integrated solution that unifies all data in a single place. The merchandising features of a dynamic product catalog make it easy for Sales to highlight key product features to potential customers. Live chat gives Sales a direct line of communication to on-site shoppers with questions. A sales portal allows reps to place orders even when they’re on the road. On the flip side, customer self-service account options meet most post-sale service needs (such as order updates).