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10 Must-Have Features When Selling Wholesale Online

There's no denying that B2B eCommerce is here to stay.

93% of B2B buyers prefer to purchase online while 62% of customers agree that eCommerce helps maintain or increase loyalty.

By 2020, the total volume of online transactions will exceed US$1 trillion, and the majority of the orders will be placed and managed online.

B2B research for Wholesale
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Enabling wholesale eCommerce will help you open up business opportunities, increase sales, lower costs, and improve customer retention -- if you do it right.

B2B buyers are becoming increasingly savvy. They demand a personalized and streamlined customer experience from their suppliers.

To stay relevant and competitive, you not only need to set up an eCommerce platform but also one with features that are designed specifically for online wholesalers so you can increase operational efficiency and reduce cost:

1. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Most B2B wholesalers offer different pricing structures, minimum order requirements, customer-specific product catalogs, and/or payment terms to different customers based on factors such as purchase volume, frequency, and their relationships.

Your eCommerce platform needs to support account-based marketing with the ability to segment users and cater to the different decision-makers while adapting to your customers' business structures.

84% of marketers said that ABM helps retain and expand existing client relationships while 60% reported a revenue increase of at least 10%.

Online Account Based Marketing (ABM)
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Your platform should allow for role-based segmentation so individual buyers can be assigned different purchasing quota or access privileges. 

In addition, leverage customer information to deliver group-specific content for each buyer segment to provide added value and build loyalty.

Different criteria can be used for segmentation, such as geographic location, order volume or frequency, as well as catalog selection to deliver the most relevant products and content to individual users.

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2. Rich Product Data

To on an annual basis execute account-based marketing, you have to present the most relevant products to the buyers based on their purchasing behaviors and preferences.

To do so, an algorithm with the capability to match customers' needs with specific product attributes is required.

For such algorithm to work, you need to have sufficient product data, rich product descriptions, and associated assets in your eCommerce database to ensure that targeted content is relevant to each customer segment.

3. Sales Rep Account

Many B2B buyers still require the assistance of sales reps to configure complex orders. Or they simply prefer to place an order over the phone or in person.

Your eCommerce site should be built to support your sales reps so they can place orders for their customers directly on the platform.

By managing all the orders in one centralized location, you can increase transparency and gain operational efficiency while reducing errors and the associated costs.

4. SKU-Based Order Form

Most B2B buyers come to your eCommerce platform to get things done, not to have a browsing experience.

If your customers know exactly what they need to order, a SKU-based order form can save them a lot of time.

Instead of searching or browsing products one-by-one, they can enter the SKUs and quantity of all the items they need in one single form and get to the checkout with just one click of a button.

Online Quick Order For WholesaleImage source

5. Past Purchase/Reorder List And Saved Orders

Most B2B buyers need to make recurring purchases of the same items.

Streamline the reordering process with a past purchase list, accessible on the account section, from which customers can reorder the items with just a few clicks of the mouse.

In addition, some buyers prefer to build an order over time. Allow them to save the collection of products they plan on purchasing so they can add and remove items until they're ready to submit the order.

6. Restricted Access

For most B2B wholesalers, pricing and product selection vary depending on the buyer.

In addition, you don't want visitors who aren't wholesale customers to see the pricing information.

Your eCommerce platform needs the ability to restrict access to certain product and pricing information, limiting it to verified customers in a logged-in state and blocking purchases from unregistered users.

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7. New Customer Application

Make it easy for new customers to set up an account and access gated information with an online application form.

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After your team receives the application, they can verify the information and get in touch with the customer to negotiate the necessary account-specific pricing, role-based access, and preferred payment methods.

8. API Integration

Your eCommerce platform should integrate with other backend systems so you can deliver a seamless customer-facing experience:

  • Display the number of in-stock items in real-time by integrating with your warehouse inventory software so customers won't be placing orders on products that may be out of stock.
  • Show account and payment status in real time by integrating your back office software with the eCommerce platform so customers can manage their credit balance effectively.
  • Integrate with your CRM and email marketing system to send out targeted content triggered by customers' account activities or interactions with your eCommerce site.

In addition, you can offer back-end integration with your customers' procurement system, accounting software, order management system, or enterprise resource planning software to facilitate purchasing and billing.

Wholesale Integrations for an Online Store
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9. Tax Exemption Status

You may have specific products that are non-taxable or customers who have tax exemption status. These customers need to verify their tax status by providing a yearly exemption certificate.

Your wholesale platform should allow you to set the appropriate tax status for each account and ensure that verification is renewed on a yearly basis.

10. Flexible Payment Options

B2B customers prefer to make their purchases with payment methods that can better cater to their cash flow and financial structure.

As such, credit card only accounts for 10% of B2B transactions while extended credit makes up 40% of all B2B transactions. The lack of payment options may prevent potential customers from doing business with you.

Your eCommerce platform should offer a variety of payment options, such as:

  • Extended payment using an online credit management service: obtain real-time credit approval for new customers and get paid within 24 hours of a shipment without financing fee. This method can accommodate customers who request net 30 or net 60 terms without impacting your cash flow.
  • Purchase order: set a credit limit for each individual customer and integrate your online system with offline purchasing channels to track available credit balance. 
  • Procurement punchout: integrate your eCommerce platform with a customer's eProcurement system to facilitate the purchasing process.
  • ACH or e-Check:  withdraw funds directly from your customer's bank account and have it deposited to your bank account. Make sure the money is immediately available before shipping the order.
  • Credit cards: factor in complexities such as unknown shipping cost at checkout or the ability for customers to edit an order after submission. You may need to program API calls to the credit card gateway for additional payment authorizations.

It may take more time and effort to have these payment arrangement set up but it's worth the effort. Your customers will appreciate the convenience, and they'll be more likely to stick with you as a supplier.

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