Online B2B integration is becoming increasingly important, as a growing number of B2B clients are now choosing to procure electronically. In fact, according to Forrester, over 74% of customers conduct online research before making a purchase. In line with this, U.S. B2B e-commerce sales are expected to reach over one trillion US$ in 2021.
That’s why, as a manufacturer and business owner, you need to know how to create and run your own B2B e-commerce platform. We’ll guide you on how to build one, tell you which features to include, and give you some additional tips throughout this article.
Overview: How B2B e-Commerce Works
Business-to-business or B2B is the process of selling goods and services between two businesses. It’s one of the most popular models, and it comes in various types:
- Buyer-oriented – which is usually done through affiliate programs
- Supplier-oriented – which focuses on selling to other wholesale buyers or other business owners
- Distributors-oriented – which involves intermediaries or resellers to connect the manufacturer to buyers
Nowadays, most of the transactions in B2B e-commerce are performed online through various platforms. One example is the B2B eCommerce platform virtocommerce.com. The main reasons why B2B is better online include:
- Reaching a wider audience using fewer resources.
- Customers can make choices on their own through the platforms.
- You can customize how to offer and sell your products.
- You can automate the whole selling procedure.
Steps for Building an Excellent B2B e-Commerce Platform
Here’s a complete step-by-step guide on how to successfully develop a B2B platform:
This includes deciding on your brand and platform’s name and buying a domain before getting started. Additionally, this also includes planning out which resources and strategies you need to ensure that the process will be a success. Resources like:
- Human resources or a team of technology experts
- Product data
- Information about you and your business, distributors, retailers, brands that are part of your business, and more.
2. Platform Selection
The development of your website mainly starts after choosing the platform you’ll make it with. When choosing a platform, aside from specific features, be sure to consider the following:
- The business and technical requirements of the platform.
- Costs, financial aspects, and predictions to assess if you’ll get good ROI
- If the platform is suited to your preferences and long-term business goals.
Upon deciding on which platform to use, start building by choosing a ready-made template or theme for your website. Most platforms have numerous templates you can choose from and customize. Customize and tweak the appearance and the overall vibe to ensure they clearly represent your brand and business.
Integrate essential shopping options like payment gateways, shipping options, order choices, and other third-party integrations like custom ERP, CRM, etc. This will not only make your buyer’s shopping experience secure and smooth but will control the platform as well.
5. Go Mobile
Build your mobile application and ensure that it can be accessed and will function properly on both Android and iOS devices. Many online shoppers prefer mobile apps where they can easily access and scroll through various products when purchasing.
6. Optimize SEO
Before launching your platform, ensure that all SEO parameters are complete. Parameters like meta titles, alt tags, descriptions, and more will make your platform visible and help you rank higher in search engine results.
7. Launch & Promote
Launch your platform and go live. Promote your new B2B portal using existing and in-built marketing tools. Most importantly, look out for any bugs or issues so you can immediately tend to them before they cause more trouble for you and potential users.
Essential Features to Include
Your B2B e-commerce platform should:
- Allow setting minimum and maximum order quantities for each product.
- Allow users and buyers to monitor their orders after buying and to reorder easily.
- Assign fixed price lists and discounts.
- Automate synchronization of orders, inventory, and customers.
- Offer a wide range of secure payment options and portals.
- You should add good-quality product images.
- Ensure easy navigation and a smooth interface.
- Allow one account to be handled by multiple users from the same company of buyers.
- Enable customer support.
- Support purchase confirmations and user authority protocols.
- Follow data privacy and cybersecurity protocols like having an SSL certificate, etc.
Tips to Improve Platform Effectiveness
To further improve your website, here are some tips you can follow:
- Make sure that your B2B platform goals are aligned with your long-term and overall business objectives.
- Optimize SEO to the fullest to appear higher in search engine results and drive more traffic to your site.
- Ensure that your platform is designed to serve your customers, not yourself.
- Put out some relevant offers that will encourage them to engage with you or the platform.
- When there are inquiries or questions, make sure you reply to them quickly.
- Ensure that all your pages are compelling.
- Regularly study and monitor performance data that will help you see whether your platform is doing well or not.
Creating a B2B e-commerce platform for your business and maintaining it is no easy task. But it’s definitely one that you can use to maintain and use to boost your business. Moreover, having your own branded website makes selling and transacting with numerous buyers easier. Ensure that your platform is at its best, and you’ll have buyers coming back.