Farmer Fiona Needs a B2B E-commerce Platform
The 6 Questions Fiona Should Ask When Choosing her B2B eCommerce Platform
Farmer Fiona is an imaginary and simultaneously enterprising urban farmer who grows sustainable, organic produce with extraordinary care and yields the snappiest snow peas, the pinkest radishes and the tastiest leeks in her town. With the number of restaurants clamouring for her products continually growing, it is time that Fiona decides which e-commerce platform that will see her business into its next phase.
Here are 6 questions that Farmer Fiona, and other B2B companies, should ask about the e-commerce platforms they are considering partnering with:
- Does it offer responsive design?
Farmer Fiona’s loyal clients browse through her offerings on their devices while sitting in empty subway cars at 3 AM, although they may actually place their orders from a computer sitting on a crowded desk in a corner of their restaurant’s kitchen.
Farmer Fiona needs a B2B E-commerce platform that is responsive, that follows her clients around as they move from device to device, making it easy for them to pick up exactly where they left off and complete their orders.
- Does the platform help with self–service?
Human beings, especially those who are chefs, like to do things for themselves: They want to be able to manage their accounts when and how they want to, without having to involve another human being. And if they’ve ordered fresh carrots and parsnips and they have not yet arrived, they want to be able to check on their location – by themselves.
Farmer Fiona needs a B2B E-commerce platform that makes it comically simple for her clients to do what they want to do.
- How do your current customers pay and are those options available?
Fiona’s clients require some flexibility in how they pay for their produce: Some clients pay 100% of their invoice at the time of delivery while others manage a tight cash flow and prefer to pay in equal averaged-out payments based on defined credit and terms.
Farmer Fiona needs a B2B E-commerce platform that offers variety in payment options, so that she is able to court all of her clients with options that meet their individual needs.
- Can you implement flexible pricing?
B2C businesses usually operate a clean, one-for-all pricing system but for B2B businesses, pricing needs to be agile, responsive to individual clients. Farmer Fiona, for example, offers the three clients that have been with her from her humble beginning in a four-acre lot, pricing that is unique to each of them.
Farmer Fiona needs a B2B E-commerce platform that offers allows for pricing that is as unique as her clients are.
- Are there SaaS options for e-commerce site?
An e-commerce site requires IT maintenance after it is up and running and Fiona has a decision to make: Should she use her occasionally overwhelmed IT department (composed of two people) to keep things running swimmingly or opt for an SaaS vendor that will take care of hosting and maintenance?
Farmer Fiona needs to decide whether the flexibility and control that an in-house commitment to keeping the e-commerce ticking is worth her investment of money and time.
- What integrations are available?
Fiona needs answers about how the B2B e-commerce platforms she is considering could be integrated with her in-house accounting system, and how much transparency would be built into the platform so that she can access the data she needs to fuel her business’s growth?
Farmer Fiona needs to get specific when she delves into the idea of integration and how a proposed e-commerce platform will fit in with her overall operation, including inventory controls and information systems.
One more thing that Farmer Fiona should do:
When choosing a B2B e-commerce platform, it is important to check out the competition. Fiona should make it her business to check out how a few of her competitors are doing e-commerce, and make a list of what works and what doesn’t, so that she has a concrete idea of what she wants before she starts serious shopping.