After the massive success of B2C portals, B2B businesses have finally caught up. At the end of customer journey touch points, there is always an emotion-driven human – this point was milked by B2C enterprises for many years. B2B businesses have been late to the party, but they have finally gotten a hold of key features and pointers which makes them approachable for users around the globe. The B2B industry is now experiencing a sharp rise, which has changed the way traders look at it for the better. B2B, which was once a small extension of the B2C sector, has now emerged as a standalone business model followed by the success of e-Commerce empires of Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.
As per a report posted by Forrester, US B2B e-Commerce industry will grow from $780 billion (2015 report) to $1.13 trillion in 2020. B2B space diversified recently with the technological advancements provided by B2B giants like Alibaba. Nowadays, people prefer to buy from a website rather than facing a sales representative. To build this amount of trust B2B portals have gone to great lengths by improving the service quality and adding features which will nullify the need of the physical presence of a buyer and seller. B2B portals are a win/win situation for buyers as well as sellers.
When people think of B2B platforms, they usually associate machinery and equipment with us. This, however, is not a wrong observation as e-Commerce industry has quite a niche but B2B platforms of present time showcase a variety of consumer products as well like clothes, jewelry, candy, wigs, cosmetics, etc. Business-to-Business customers have paved the way for many successful businesses to make their name in the digital world. Some B2B portals are niche dedicated, for example, BeauteTrade where you will specifically find cosmetics and beauty care products while sites like Alibaba have all kinds of products ranging from everyday use products to heavy industrial machinery. Wholesalers and manufacturers are critical members of the commerce ecosystem as they fund the products that power B2B stores. Under the B2B umbrella comes sellers and buyers who are situated in different international markets.
Owing to the ever growing needs and technological advancements, the B2B model cannot be simulated or prototyped for every business type. To conveniently address the main requirements of B2B buyers, one needs to understand the behavior of their target audience. The B2B buying process has Multiple Decision-Makers, and it is a rational decision instead of an impulse buying spree. The Prices are not universal and may fluctuate conditional on a customer’s location, contracts type, and history between the companies. Users are becoming more demanding as the B2B portals continue to advance. The basic requirements remain the same, which includes the ability to trade in a hassle-free manner.
Based on my experience in dealing with multiple B2B businesses, there are some of the vital B2B features which are looked for by the traders. B2B businesses looking for upgrading their existing website, constructing it from scratch, or already have a B2B e-Commerce platform need to make sure that your platform can support the following B2B capabilities.
Key Features Needed For a Complete B2B Platform:
In a B2B commerce website, pricing is not simple and the same for every order. They have varying arrangements in place for different customers. The pricing may range for customers for different reasons like the volume of business you do with them, frequency of orders, type of products, the difference between the geographical location of buyer and seller and the type of contract. An online marketplace needs to have functionality that can take care of different pricing models.
Promotions and bulk discounts
Discounts and promotions are a prevalent feature of successful B2B sites. They enable the suppliers to get higher orders while simultaneously increasing customer royalty. Your B2B e-commerce platform must be able to sustain the mass of users when there is a special offer going on. When the promotions only apply to a specific set of clients or geographic areas, the site must quickly adapt to adjust them. Built-in bulk discount functionality is a must-have feature. One right way to increase the interaction of traders during the bulk discounts is by notifying them beforehand about the promotional offer. This way maximum numbers of users will avail the facility, thanks to the notification system.
Minimum Order Value
B2B stores operate a minimum order value for some or all of their products. To ensure profitability and managing margins, having a minimum order quantity is essential. Most of the times, orders that are too small in quantity are not viable to process primarily when it has to be delivered to a faraway location, which is why your eCommerce solution must have this functionality. It is advised that your platform must allow you to set a threshold for minimum order. This requirement must be in front of the order page so that your client can get acknowledged with this obligation. Platforms like Alibaba will give you a perfect example of setting a minimum order value.
B2B eCommerce stores have customer registration forms as a primary feature. Customers, whether they are looking for products or who wish to sell their products, are asked to register on the site with necessary details. It is having specific functionality which is aimed at businesses that sell to other businesses. Using the information availed from customer registration, different pricing levels, payment terms, discounts, shipping arrangements, and minimum order quantity based on contract types can be put together. The login section of the store will also let you hide particular products on the basis of the availability of the product in the region where the buyer is situated in.
An eCommerce store should be able to handle the tax-related issues, and the Tax calculations should be added directly to the bill. Tax exemption is kind of complex; there are some products where tax is paid, and some are where tax is to be exempted; such mechanisms should be considered while considering a platform.
Flexible Payment Options
Flexible payment options are perhaps the most critical feature for any eCommerce portal. B2B portals must have multiple online methods for payments while not forgetting processing payments offline. An order number must be purchased with the feasibility to pay within 30 days credit. B2B traders around the world use payment options like ACH Payments, Partial Payments, Vantiv, Credit Line Payments, and Paymetric, etc.
Clients must be allowed to edit, make changes, or cancel the order in their account. Making the ordering process difficult will result in clients not using your platform in the future. Customers should be able to navigate through their orders and make changes without having to call for simple tasks. For avoiding any losses, this feature should be available for the orders that have not been processed yet. For a smooth production process, suppliers are advised to update their clients on regular intervals regarding the position of the orders.
Search bars are the most critical feature of a B2B platform. A customer who comes to the site for buying something looks for the search bar to start the buying process. The search bar should also allow the options to filter or filter out specific attributes for the ease of the buyer. With unique search options, it will be easier to sort out the millions of products displayed on your site. Your priority should be to resonate with customers, and the user experience and user interface (UX/UI) of your website need to be fulfilling and enjoyable.
Reports and complaints
There should be a strong check and balance system over the reports and complaints received by users. Needless to say, all transactions and discussion regarding products need to be saved just in case there is some discrepancy. The B2B platform must have metrics to rate the suppliers and buyers with ratings to build trust relationship of new buyers and sellers. Moreover, users should be given rights to flag and report the account to the team, which can be reviewed by the support team.
Invoicing and delivery
When the order request is submitted and approved, the B2B platform should be equipped with an automated invoicing system with date and time stamp. You will be saving a lot of money by not having to print the invoices and delivering them, which also takes days. A B2B platform must be displaying the approx. Delivery time for the ease of buyers this will also enable the clients to make their minds about the time it would take for the supplier to deliver the required products.
Your B2B portal’s website is the first impression a user will have of your brand. You need to take every measure to ensure a lasting first impression, seamless experience and satisfying service to your prospects in the long term.
By following these tips for B2B web design, you can set the foundation for a portal that’s unforgettable, convenient and satisfying for your user. This will maintain trust, boost lead conversions and, ultimately, help amplify your business growth.
- In today's world, people prefer to by from a website rather than face a sales representative
- Your B2B e-commerce must sustain large orders and be able to support the mass of users when there is a special offer going on
- Your eCommerce store should be able to handle tax-related issues, and your Tax calculations should be calculated directly into the bill
- Clients should be allowed to edit, cancel, re-route the order so that they have seamless experience and you can ensure a longer lasting customer
"I am a marketing specialist with articles published regarding trends in digital marketing. A writer by day and a reader by night. Mostly I’ve written about various topics concerning B2B industry, here and there. Find me on twitter @anoshasays"