Top 5 signs you need a new B2B eCommerce platform

Plus the essential features to look for

6 Jan 2021

When you chose an eCommerce platform for your B2B business, no doubt it took time and research to find the right match. That platform has served you well, but it inevitably runs into functionality problems as the eCommerce arm of your business continues to grow.

You’ll list more products in more categories, attract more traffic, convert more customers and generate more transactions. Your eCommerce platform should scale with your business, but if you’re suffering from poor functionality and integration, supported by manual processes that are depleting time and resources, it may be time for a platform upgrade.

Just as children outgrow their shoes, there comes a time when your B2B business will outgrow its eCommerce platform. Here are the warning signs to look for – and what features your replacement platform should have:

5 Common signs your platform is holding you back

1. Customisation is required for basic B2B functionality

There’s a chance your e-Commerce platform didn’t come with fundamental B2B functionality in the first place. If the back end of your system looks like a patchwork quilt of add-ons and customisations, there’s a chance it’s not performing as it should. Plugins and workarounds always come at a cost. While they do have benefits, the more you add the slower your system will become, exposing you to security vulnerabilities and compromising user experience.

2. Being mobile responsive-only is no longer enough

These days, B2B customers do more than expect the same user experience across every key activity at every device level – they demand it. As time moves on and younger generations move into these industries, our reliance on mobile devices will only continue to increase.

3. You’re not giving your customers what they need and want

Possibly one of the biggest red flags is that your platform is limiting your ability to provide a great customer experience. These days, customers have high expectations when it comes to online shopping – a variety of payment methods, low-cost (or free) shipping, flexible delivery options and a streamlined checkout process. All of this will impact significantly on conversion and sales rates.

4. You’re working between multiple systems

No doubt you’ve invested heavily in various systems: accounting, inventory management, CRM – but unless they’re seamlessly integrated, you’re likely experiencing inefficiencies transferring data between them. It’s crucial for your eCommerce platform to integrate with your other systems so you know your business information is accurate, reliable and available in real-time.

5. You spend more time and money on IT than marketing

If you’re spending more energy and resources on the maintenance of your eCommerce platform than you do on marketing, that’s a sure-fire sign it’s time for an upgrade. Good eCommerce platforms are easy to update and maintain, regardless of how they are used. Spend too much time wrangling with IT and you risk losing your competitive edge.

Find a system that will enable your business to thrive

What to consider when choosing a replacement eCommerce platform

Before diving into the deep end, it pays to think about what you and your customers need from a new eCommerce platform. Make a list of functionalities and determine what on that list is non-negotiable. Then, consider the following:

  • Out-of-the-box versus custom. Having a clear idea of your must-have functions and requirements will help you evaluate the type of platform you should explore. This will allow you to narrow your field of choice to either a simple, out-of-the-box option or an enterprise-level system.
  • Integration capabilities. What other business systems do you use and how easy will it be to integrate them with a replacement eCommerce platform?
  • Ongoing support. When it comes to troubleshooting, what support do you have available? A cloud-based platform is usually hosted and maintained by the software developer. An on-premise solution will require a team of professionals to manage it.
  • PCI security. A compliance requirement to ensure that your customers’ data stays safe
  • Design and user experience. A poorly designed website will struggle to convert visitors into paying customers. An eCommerce platform rich in features and functionality is great – but it must be easy to navigate.
  • Cost. Price is always a key decision-making factor. Make sure you understand what you’re paying for and do a cost comparison beyond the initial set-up. A platform that is cheaper to implement may end up costing you more long-term.

Take note of these 6 important features

Here are some of the top features B2B eCommerce businesses should consider:

  • Self-service. Your sales reps and buyers should easily access information and place orders efficiently and independently.
  • Easy bulk ordering. Allow customers to easily add products to their cart in bulk, and enable one-click reordering if that’s an option.
  • Flexible payment options. Especially for large B2B transactions, give your customers a choice on how they want to pay – on account, by purchase order or credit card.
  • Customer-specific pricing. Your prices may vary by product or by range – you want a platform that has this capability.
  • Real-time inventory updates. Ensure your customers have the most accurate product and inventory information to order.
  • Reporting. You want access to detailed reporting so you can evaluate the performance of your e-commerce operations.

A flexible system will serve your business well

As your business grows, your eCommerce platform should scale with it. When it starts to slow you down, costing you time, money and resources, then it’s time for a new system.

It’s important to find an eCommerce platform with the right features, but in a bid to make sure you’re not missing anything, sometimes you can end up with a system that has too many features.

It’s like your mobile phone. That has lots of apps and features, but the average person wouldn’t use half of what’s available. It’s the same with an e-commerce platform. The solution? Flexibility – being able to pick and choose modules that you’ll use.

At Solutionists, B2B eCommerce is what we do well. To get specialist help finding the right eCommerce platform for your B2B business, get in touch with the Solutionists team today. 

author:

Solutionists

date published:

6 Jan 2021