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5 Key Features of B2B eCommerce

min read

published on

May 16, 2022

If you work in the B2B sector, you will no doubt have witnessed the hype around eCommerce over the last few years. B2B businesses have always had a very specific set of needs, and now that eCommerce platforms have evolved to fit these requirements, the landscape is shifting.

Running a B2B business today means making online buying easy with an improved and simplified customer journey. B2B buyers expect more customized offers and experiences, and many organizations are struggling to meet those new demands.Many businesses often wrongly believe that selling to B2B buyers is the same as selling to consumers. As a result, they employ strategies, maintain outdated systems and add multiple features to their new eCommerce platform - often with the outcome that only a fraction of those features are being used by B2B buyers. 

The truth is that businesses don’t need to start big to succeed. Often starting smaller and focusing on the most important elements in your eCommerce platform will lead to success because the concept is tested with products actually being sold and people from your organization can manage the new platform systems. We’ve listed 5 key features any businesses must consider when updating or rolling out their new B2B eCommerce platform. 

1. Add quick checkout features 

Forget long forms and ditch five-step payment processes - it’s these kinds of blockages that slow down conversion on B2B eCommerce sites. Simplifying the checkout process is a great way to reduce cart abandonment, and drive buyers right through to purchase on the first run. 

Quick checkout features are a foolproof addition to your site, and likely to prove especially popular amongst returning B2B customers. You can give buyers the option to make quick reorders based on their previous favorites, or fill out a short bulk order form using the SKU, part number or another more convenient identifier. Even small updates in functionality - like autofilling address forms or a VAT price toggle - can make a huge difference.  

2. Segmentation with groups or profiles for B2B buyers 

You know your customers - they’re all a little different. So do you reward bulk buying with a lower rate, offer discounts to returning customers, or throw in the odd sample product? 

One way to tackle the range of B2B buyers you have is by building segmented groups or profiles, each suited to a certain type of customer. You could organize your platform’s customer profiles in a variety of ways, but there are a few core factors worth considering as you design the individual segments:

* Geographic location of your B2B buyer
* Regularity of purchase
* Standard order size 
* Type of business 
* Nature of your existing relationship 

These groups can then each benefit from a bespoke user journey, with personalized product recommendations. Their shopping cart experience should be tailored too, with options to reorder, specific payment methods, pricing and even currencies to choose before checkout. By serving the idiosyncrasies of your B2B buyers in this way, you can provide a more valuable customer experience, with convenient features that encourage a return visit. 

3. Customer specific catalog and pricing

Once you have built your customer segments, it’s time to implement a flexible or individual pricing approach. You might sell one product at twenty different prices to buyers across the globe - and while it’s easy to tweak this figure for telesales, it’s a little trickier online. 

Whether you decide to price by volume, region or another set of variables altogether, the ability to set different prices for various user groups is an absolute staple for B2B eCommerce. Individual pricing should also reduce the number of buyers picking up the phone to make a purchase or request a personalized quote, so it’s crucial that your chosen platform offers you the flexibility to alter your catalog directly.  

4. Flexible payment options

In the B2B world, an existing business relationship is already in place with the client and not every payment method should be processed online.

To accommodate the needs of the B2B buyers, you would want to integrate offline payment methods like:

* Credit cards
* Purchase orders
* Credit line authorization
* Checks (for large amounts)
* Wire transfer / ACH
* Credit notes
* ...

Your platform should include the ability to configure multiple payment options while at the same time personalizing these to specific customers. Either order amount or customer group.

Offering personalized and flexible ways of ordering for your buyers will ultimately leave them with a seamless experience on your digital platform, and hence on your company image.

5. Varied user access and permissions

Unlike B2C customers, your B2B buyers represent a variety of roles, with different levels of seniority within the business. Your access controls should be set up to reflect this. Think about it - you (probably) wouldn’t put an intern in charge of locking up, and nor should a junior buyer have complete control over the company account. 

With this in mind, your B2B eCommerce platform needs the functionality to provide different tiers of access for the hierarchy of users it accommodates. That could mean allocating each account an administrator, who has the ability to create separate customer users in turn, and grant individual permissions as they see fit. This prevents junior staff from actioning anything outside their remit, while managers can see everything from invoice history to available credit.

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About the author
Arnaud Rihiant
Founder & CEO @ DJUST

Expert in topics on B2B, eCommerce, market trends, business strategy

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