Even as long ago as 2013, the proportion of UK business turnover through ecommerce was 20% – the third-highest figure of any country in the EU. And, just last year, an ONS report found that almost four-fifths (79%) of British individuals had made purchases online in the last 12 months.
There’s no doubt, then, that traditional retailers and wholesalers can benefit from selling their products online as well as through their normal sales channels.
However, having an ecommerce website is no guarantee of success in itself. In order to be competitive in a crowded market, you should aim to tailor your site to your target audience – offering them a user experience that speaks to their own specific wants and needs. This is particularly pertinent in B2B ecommerce, where specialist functionality may be required to lead customers smoothly to the checkout button on their shopping cart (rather than to a competitor’s site).
Here are three essential features your B2B ecommerce website should have:
1. Support for complex pricing structures
B2B customers are often looking to buy products in bulk, as well as bundles and kits. As such, the ability to set up complex pricing structures quickly and easily is a must-have feature in B2B ecommerce. This will also let you set up discounts or special member prices for returning customers, and reel them in with attractive incentives where possible.
It helps here to have a decent backend solution – such as SAP Business One or another ERP product – to underpin both your website and other sales channels, and provide a single source of product and pricing information for your entire business. This will also improve visibility into your margins and other performance data, making most pricing decisions a lot simpler.
2. A customer portal and eprocurement features
The aim of your site is to make it as easy as possible for your customer to buy your products, and if you’re selling to other businesses, there’s a good chance that they’ll want a way to track and manage their expenditure.
A customer portal where buyers have the ability to fine-tune their purchasing activity based on parameters like monthly budget will be invaluable, as will fast-order entry tools and the option to set up repeat purchases with ease.
3. Real-time inventory data
In the world of B2B ecommerce, your customers rely on timely delivery to keep their own business running. You can’t afford to let them down by showing stock levels that may be inaccurate, so it’s vital that your website can display real-time inventory data.
Once again, if you’re a traditional retailer or wholesaler with other sales channels besides the web, this will require a decent backend solution to allow your ecommerce platform – whether it’s Amazon, PrestaShop or Magento – to draw from the same pool of data as other areas of your business.
Ultimately, in B2C as in B2B, setting up a successful ecommerce website is all about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and thinking about their specific wants and needs. And, while B2B ecommerce may be a little more complex on the whole, most of these customer requirements are easy to address so long as you have the right technology in place – both in terms of your ecommerce platform and backend solution.
Want to learn more? We recommend checking out our free 5-minute guide to ecommerce integration for SAP Business One, SAP’s flagship ERP solution for SMEs. You may find it saves you hours of research.