E-commerce has been gaining in popularity over the years with the sharpest rise in sales volumes when the Covid-19 crisis started. Currently, the global eCommerce industry is over 4.8 trillion – and that is retail alone.
B2B eCommerce has undergone a growth spurt of its own. With a CAGR of 17.5%, the global B2B eCommerce market is expected to reach $20.9 trillion by 2027.
As the participation in B2B eCommerce grows, so does the selection and sophistication of eCommerce platforms.
With plenty of options to choose from, finding the right eCommerce solution is a must if you want to reach the stars in your digital sky. It will inform your e-store’s design, functionalities, scalability and overall performance both in the short- and in the long-run.
To help you find the right one, we’ve compiled a list of all the considerations and factors you need to keep an eye on when looking for an eCommerce solution:
- eCommerce Platforms Types
There are 5 different eCommerce platform types you can choose from:
- Traditional eCommerce platform
- Open-source eCommerce platform
- Build your own eCommerce platform
- SaaS eCommerce platform
- Cloud eCommerce platform
Now let’s zoom into each:
Traditional platforms — If you choose a traditional eCommerce platform, you pay your annual fee, which you then renew every year. Your team of developers will build on top of the platform and install it either into the cloud or on-premise. Some of the traditional platforms include IBM Digital Commerce, Kentico, Hybris, and others.
Open-source eCommerce platforms — These are similar to the traditional platforms in many ways. However, the biggest difference is that you do not pay for the license upfront nor do you renew it annually; instead, you pay for the implementation, initial development, ongoing development, migration, and updates. Magento is one example of an open-source eCommerce platform.
Build your own eCommerce platform — You can choose to build your eCommerce platform. To be able to do this, you will need a qualified developer. This option is not very popular as businesses usually opt for solutions where they do not have to “get their hands dirty.” Still, if you are running a business that has a rather specific set of requirements that are nowhere to be found, maybe the best solution is to build your B2B e-store from the ground up.
SaaS eCommerce platforms — These platforms are built on a single codebase in most cases. If you decide to use a SaaS eCommerce platform, you will be using the same technology for one fixed monthly fee that would cover security and upgrades, maintenance, and server use.
Cloud eCommerce platforms — We call this type “the cloud platforms” because they have bolted onto a hosting system. Some of the cloud eCommerce platforms are Demandware, Magento Enterprise Cloud, Salesforce Commerce, and Volusion.
If you are having a hard time opting for the eCommerce platform you should focus on, you can always reach out to a web design agency in Florida to help you with your efforts.
- B2B eCommerce Platform Capabilities
Besides a wide range of platform options you can choose from, there is also a list of platform features you need to keep in mind when choosing one that will perfectly meet your eCommerce business needs.
- Flexible Payment Options
Unlike B2C transactions, the B2B eCommerce experience can be much more complex. It may require a list of much more advanced capabilities for large catalogues.
This is why flexible payments would probably make much more sense as they would create a better user experience.
If you offer a variety of pricing plans to your customers, they will be much more likely to choose you as their vendor.
Also, keep in mind that there is a wide selection of offline payment options you can also use here.
- Responsive Design
You do not want your customers to abandon their shopping carts because they have a hard time accessing your website from different devices.
Responsive design is imperative not just for B2B platforms but to all kinds of eCommerce platforms.
During the purchase process, customers like to move from one point to another, and use different devices.
Help them have the best customer experience by making your design adaptable to various screens, user-friendly and intuitive.
Protecting customer data is key for any eCommerce platform, but particularly for B2B ones.
Payment card industry (PCI) compliance are a set of technical and operational standards that protect your users’ credit card information from theft.
If your eCommerce website is hosted on your eCommerce platform’s servers, they need to confirm that they are PCI Compliant. If they do not host your website, the responsibility for PCI compliance is either on you or your development partner.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the platform is whether it can be integrated with other systems that would enable workflow automation and/or enhanced user experience..
- Flexibility as an Important Factor
IYour eCommerce platform should fit not only your current, but also your future business needs to help you capitalize on emerging opportunities.
For example, some businesses are choosing to sell services besides products to be able to get closer to customers and build stronger relationships. If you are one of such companies, look for a solution that can handle both services and products in the same transaction.
On top of this, the one-stop-shop customer experience is now a new way to support channel partners. So, if you want to stay up to date and provide your customers with unique experiences that will make them come back for more to your site, you need to opt for a flexible platform that allows you to experiment and support all of your changes.
If you need help searching for the most flexible solution for your eCommerce business, you can ask for help from a web design agency in Chicago and then focus on other things that matter.
- Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an eCommerce Platform
Choosing a wrong platform could cost you time and money with all the patch-ups, error fixes and do-overs that await down the road.
Here are some ways to ensure you don’t make these mistakes:
Setting no goals — If you are not sure what you are trying to achieve with your eCommerce platform from the start, you will spend your time and money on something that doesn’t bring you results.
So here are some of the examples of objectives you may want to set before choosing the platform:
- Launch eCommerce store in 3 months
- Gather information from more than 1000 customers
- Make at least 10 000 sales in the first quarter
Choosing too many features — If you invest in a platform that has too many features than in the one that you truly need, you are wasting your money without generating any value.
The best option here is to start small, but flexible, and then add new features and capabilities as your business grows.
Trying to customize templated websites — the common mistake business make is that they choose a platform because of its quick and easy templates, and then try to customize it so that it fits their needs. Pick a platform that allows you to create a custom design that you can change and scale overtime.
Opting for a platform that is difficult to scale — This is probably the biggest mistake you can make when looking for the platform that supports your needs. You need to choose a solution that can scale and support multi-tenancy and multi-site.
- The Next Steps
Now that you understand some of the basic steps to choosing the right eCommerce platform for your B2B business, start your search for the right solution by assessing your needs.
Huddle with your key stakeholders to define the clear goals you want to achieve with your e-store. Then list all the necessary features, dividing them into phase 1 and phase 2 so that you are able to focus both on your immediate needs and the big picture.
From there on, research, research, research until you find the one that fits the bill.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.