Many businesses start off with a B2C system and try to adapt this to their B2B marketplace as they expand that area of their business. Still, others start off their B2B operations with a B2C platform that has been modified for use in B2B.
Both of these approaches are wrong and can have a detrimental impact on the long-term success of your business. Most of the time, B2C platforms don’t have or have limited capabilities for the following:
1) Corporate accounts for corporate needs
Businesses rely on hierarchical corporate structures with many decision-makers with unique roles. B2B eCommerce platforms address this by allowing companies to log in to the store with different role-based accounts, ensuring that users only have the information, order-making, or purchasing permissions they need.
More customization options like page view permissions and purchasing rules can be set – something that is unheard of in most B2C eCommerce applications.
2) Multiple organizations, stores and accounts
Many businesses are global and operate in different time zones, currencies, and regulations and the right B2B E-commerce platform must be able to accommodate multiple stores and their pages from a single admin console.
This is especially true once marketplaces get complex: consider that a single retailer could have B2B, B2C, and B2B2C, preferring to keep them separate in order to give their target customers a better experience.
3) A content management system
While B2B customers need to juggle multiple decision-makers and longer buying cycles, they also need more information to make seemingly simple decisions. Things like lengthy descriptions, specifications, certifications are more of a necessity than an optional nice-to-have.
With a CMS system, it becomes easier for store admin, marketing, or sales team to create and maintain content according to the needs of their target customer.
4) Personalized B2B experience
B2B eCommerce solutions are designed with highly sophisticated workflow engines that allow for individual B2B experiences. For example, B2B eCommerce stores may need to have different checkout and ordering procedures that vary from account to account.
Some businesses may require approval for certain orders, others may prefer certain order quantities. To maintain this experience, data may need to be pulled in from ERPs, PIMS, or CRM systems – something that’s not always offered by B2C stores.
5) Multiple shopping and price-lists
Unlike for B2C customers, pricing for B2B users can get very complicated. As a merchant, you could have pre-negotiated prices with one buyer while offering another buyer a different type of discount. You may have one product optioned out for different industries and offer it at different prices.
Lastly, you may want products purchased in bulk to have tiered pricing models. All this demands a dynamic and robust pricing engine that only B2B eCommerce systems can offer.