How can you find the best eCommerce platform for your B2B business and why BigCommerce?
Let’s get this out of the way: No one will be playing Switzerland here. We’ve been BigCommerce partners since 2012, and it’s not for sentimental reasons, although they are very nice folks. What sets them apart from other platforms in the galaxy is the perfect combination of killer features and functionality, a balance that binds the eCommerce universe together. That’s the Force.
For the past few years, the global B2B eCommerce market has been on a steady incline. B2B businesses have been gradually adapted to this rise, and then came COVID, which accelerated the trend. This, paired with the fact that customer experience has become increasingly critical, forces B2B businesses to get up to speed to meet these demands. You probably know this firsthand, but here are some figures:
- 80% of B2B clients make purchasing decisions based on customer experience.
- 87% of B2B clients prefer a supplier with the best eCommerce portal and customer experience, even if it means paying more.
- 35% of B2B businesses have listed investing in eCommerce platform technology as their top priority this year
- 54% of distributors list focusing on better user experience and adding more B2C features as their priority goal.
Given the conditions, yes, the best time to create a solid eCommerce plan is yesterday, but today will do fine. The main challenge is to find a platform that can support your B2B or Hybrid company as you take (or perfect) the plunge. Spoiler alert: we believe it’s BigCommerce. Read on and find out why.
What to bear in mind when choosing a B2B eCommerce platform
Who are you?
One of the first and most important factors to consider before choosing an eCommerce platform is what kind of B2B business you have, as this will determine your specific needs. For example, B2B2C companies (business to business to consumer) need a platform that can put businesses in direct contact with consumers, no middle man, whereas a Wholesale eCommerce model is better suited for companies that sell bulk and discounted products to other companies.
Another key factor is your team’s technical knowledge. Platforms have different interfaces and require different levels of technical expertise. The best platform is the one your team can make the most of.
Truly welcome onboard(ing)
Whether you are migrating from another eCommerce platform because things didn't go as planned, or because things went so well you need a bigger boat, or if you’re choosing an eCommerce solution for the first time, a plan for onboarding customers can make your transition smooth, and help your customers navigate seamlessly. It’s a good idea to choose a platform that offers launch services and real time training, both for your customers and your staff. It need not be a long and winding road.
BigCommerce offers a streamlined onboarding process specifically designed for midmarket B2B businesses. This includes personalized training sessions, onboarding specialists, and an extensive knowledge base to help your business get up and running quickly and efficiently. While other platforms offer some kind of onboarding support, they cannot match the level of personalized guidance and assistance BigCommerce provides. Magento boasts a comprehensive knowledge base and community forums, and Shopify does offer onboarding support, but none provide the level of personalized attention and tailored support you can get with BigCommerce.
The friends of my friends are my friends: integrations
Choosing a platform that can integrate with your essential business software is crucial. You probably are using –or considering using – PIMs, ERPs, CRMs, etc. You don't want to invest time and money only to end up stuck with an eCommerce platform that can't connect to the systems you rely on for smooth operations. That's why it's important to find a platform that seamlessly integrates with all your software without holding you back.
BigCommerce understands the value of integration and offers a streamlined solution that can connect your platform with your essential software systems. The platform integrates seamlessly with popular ERP systems such as NetSuite, SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics, which makes it easy for B2B businesses to manage their online and offline operations. That’s not all. They go the extra mile with real-time inventory and order management, automatic syncing of product data, customer data, and pricing information. While other platforms offer some level of integration with ERP systems, they can be limited to very few ERPs (like Shopify), require additional development work (like Magento) or custom integrations to achieve the same integrations. Not the same level of real-time syncing and data management capabilities as BigCommerce.
And then there’s APIs. Storefront APIs and server-to-server API functions provide you remote access to all the data in the BigCommerce platform, allowing you to connect mobile apps, third-party integrations or a frontend CMS. Take your APIck.
BigCommerce's advanced API features, such as filtering, sorting, and pagination are capable of handling complex requirements like a breeze and like a pro.
Security: (Almost) nothing else matters
B2B companies need a platform that's got security covered from every angle. Customers need to feel safe enough to hand over sensitive information like credit card and personal data, so making sure data stays safe and sound is a top priority when searching for an eCommerce platform.
That means credit card and customer data protection and protection against cyber-attacks, fraud, and unauthorized access. BigCommerce offers built-in security features like PCI compliance, SSL certificates, and DDoS protection. And, while having top-notch security features is a must-have, it also can’t hurt to have a little extra help from dedicated security teams to monitor and prevent any security threats. BigCommerce has that too.
Safeguarding each of these items is key to winning customer trust and avoiding security breaches. Here’s another reason to prioritize security: dedicated security programs help increase your SEO ranking and ultimately boost your online visibility and credibility. Choosing a platform with solid security pays off, in more ways than one.
Granted, other platforms also have security features. For example, Shopify and WooCommerce offer SSL certificates and DDoS protection, but fall short when it comes to PCI compliance. Magento requires additional security extensions to achieve a similar level of security as BigCommerce's built-in features, while PrestaShop may require additional development work for certain security measures. When it comes to protecting your customers and your business, cutting corners is not a good idea.
Cost up or count the cost
Cost is not only about how much money you pay, but also about what you don't pay. It's also about what you get in exchange, and what you save.
With BigCommerce, you save time and resources. You won't need full-time developers sorting out the many details involved in customizing on-site platforms. BigCommerce allows you to focus on what you do best, not get bogged down with the technical details of managing an eCommerce platform.
And you do save money too. On-premises solutions bear the cost of security and compliance, and those can get expensive. A SaaS platform like BigCommerce allows you to offload the extracurriculars on third party vendors, which simplifies the process and lowers costs.
BigCommerce offers a competitive pricing structure that's perfect for B2B and hybrid companies. It’s not only transparent and cost-effective, but also tailored to their unique needs. No transaction fees, unlimited staff accounts, and flexible pricing plans that can scale as your business grows. You can find other platforms with lower pricing plans, but that may be deceiving. Watch out for sneaky transaction fees (hi, there, Shopify) and extra development and maintenance costs (we see you, PrestaShop).
Cookie cutter approaches won’t cut it: Customization
One size fits all does not apply to eCommerce platforms, or to B2B companies, or to anyone anymore. On one hand, customers want personalized experiences and eCommerce solutions must be customizable and flexible enough to deal with that. On the other hand, companies that prepare for and seek growth need solutions that can grow along. Key word: scalability. Businesses all over the world have caught on and offer tailored, functional solutions that won’t break the bank. B2B is no exception.
Customization is BigCommerce’s strong suit: Customizable pricing and catalog systems, customizable themes, customizable drag-and-drop interface, customizable components (third party integrations)...It’s almost like a set of LEGOs that you can combine for extra agility, and it’s the best option for B2B and Hybrid companies.
For example, WooCommerce provides a high level of customization through its open-source nature and extensive library of plugins and themes, but, like with PrestaShop, customizations can require some serious technical expertise. Shopify, in turn, also offers a simple drag-and-drop interface that does not require merchants to be technical experts, but its overall customization options are not extensive, which might make it a good fit for small business with simpler needs, but hardly a good match for B2B and Hybrid companies.
Data makes the world go round: First-party data and customer data.
Data is power. Knowledge about data is a superpower. With eCommerce on the rise and customers shopping omnichannel, collecting and understanding data is a growing need -and a growing opportunity- for brands. Data-driven decision-making is crucial for B2B eCommerce platforms to stay competitive in today's market.
Thanks to platforms like Google Analytics, which allows to track customer interactions across online channels, understanding your customers' behavior has never been easier. From their location to their interests and purchasing habits, you can learn all about what makes them tick and click, and turn that knowledge into more sales. The ideal eCommerce platform is one that supports your data-driven strategy. Like BigCommerce.
BigCommerce allows users to choose the data solutions they need, ranging from warehousing to analytics. Its open SaaS architecture enables an easy integration with third-party analytic tools and marketing platforms. It comes with a variety of built-in analytics tools that offer valuable insights into essential metrics such as customer behavior and conversion rates.
Essential features of a B2B eCommerce platform.
Ability to sell B2B and B2C on the same platform.
Selling to both B2B and B2C customers can be a tricky business, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, the ability to do both on the same ecommerce platform can save you time, money, and headaches. However, not all platforms are created equal. Most platforms are either exclusively fit for B2C or require extensive extra work to allow simultaneous B2B and B2C operations. B2B/B2C coexistence is a big deal for BigCommerce. It allows merchants to manage B2B customer accounts and run a robust B2C channel from a single store, providing a specific, consistent experience for both on a single instance.
Easy to add new channels and technology partners.
One essential feature to look for is the ability to add new channels and technology partners seamlessly. With the rise of omnichannel experiences, customers expect to be able to shop on a variety of platforms and channels, from physical storefronts to social media. So, choosing a platform that prioritizes omnichannel capabilities, like BigCommerce, is key to success in today's ecommerce landscape.
Ability to sell internationally with multi-language support.
The world’s everyone’s oyster now. As customers and brands become increasingly connected, internationalization is a key factor to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform. Localization and multi-language support will allow you to tap into new markets and expand your business worldwide.
BigCommerce offers localized content and conversion tools. How does that work? With Stencil or any CMS you prefer, you can build a localized experience and push content to the relevant geographies to empower your sales teams with growth and conversion tools suitable for their specific regions. With BigCommerce, you can manage over 100 currencies and offer your clients their preferred payment options, as well as customize catalogs and pricing for different target regions.
Access and restriction options.
There’s an extra level of complexity in B2B eCommerce compared to B2C. Selling to other businesses entails more nuances and rules involved, such as different pricing for bulk orders or different payment terms. That's why it's crucial to have an ecommerce platform that allows you to customize the buyer experience depending on the user. BigCommerce offers several options to allow and restrict access to some areas of your site. For example, you can hide bulk pricing from your B2C customers, hide pricing altogether for certain products, or even hide your B2B site entirely from non-registered members. These options give you the flexibility to create a tailored experience for each of your customers.
Pricing, payment, and ordering customization and options.
For B2B companies, it’s truly Everything Everywhere All at Once. Multiple systems need to work like a well-oiled machine to get all the LEGOs to click and have a unified system to manage orders and transactions. This is even more so for hybrid companies with B2C and wholesale channels that cannot afford confusion and inter-channel conflicts. You need a platform that can deal with several payment and different ordering and delivery options. With multi-storefront, customer management tools, fulfillment centers and punchout catalogs, among other beauties, BigCommerce helps your business forget about channel conflicts and streamline management processes, allowing you to focus solely on growing your business.
Focused on user experience.
Ultimately, it’s all about the user experience. The ideal B2B eCommerce platform will have customers resonate with your brand and offer intuitive and enjoyable user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) resulting in satisfying customer experiences. If they like’em, they will come, and return. As more B2B businesses prioritize a seamless user experience and seek to optimize UX/UI, it's crucial to choose an ecommerce platform with the right personalization options, such as customizable and responsive platforms offering user-friendly, intuitive templates, and infinite possibilities to add the tools you need. You’ve come this far, so you probably know what’s next: BigCommerce has that.
Separating the BigCommerce from the chaff: A (very) abridged list of the multiple features that simplify the shopping process for you and your customers.
- Price lists and customer groups:
Tailor your pricing strategy by offering customized pricing to SKU level, bulk discounts, and promotional deals.
- Buy again:
Users can view and reorder purchased products in a jiffy.
- Payment method visibility control:
You can add and edit approved payment options for your customers. You can also decide whether to show or hide them.
- Set buyer roles and permissions:
Customers can create a full corporate profile with several tiers of buyers.
- Invoice portal:
Your customers can manage and pay invoices easily with several payment options.
- Customer requested quotes:
Customers can add products to their shopping cart and request quotes for their orders. Automatically.
Why pick BigCommerce
It may sound vain, but your BigCommerce site will look good. Its visual editor and themes will allow you to create designs so sleek that users will feel like they are gliding across the screen. But it’s not just about looks. What’s under the hood is just as beautiful.
BigCommerce is a SaaS platform, and not just any SaaS platform. It’s Open Saas, which combines the best of both worlds. Actually, make that the best of three worlds.
It’s a SaaS platform, which means you won't have to worry about hosting, security, or any of the other technical details that can make eCommerce a headache, while saving time and money with lower costs and faster time-to-market. They take care of the wiring, and the plumbing, and the basic furnishing.
It’s Open SaaS, so it also means you have the freedom to decorate and move stuff around to give the place the look and functionality you wish. You won’t be trapped by limited functionality or held hostage by a proprietary system. BigCommerce gives you the power to customize your ecommerce platform to meet your unique business needs with flexibility. If it were a cake, you could have it, and eat it too.
And then BigCommerce goes and ups the game with headless commerce, a game-changing technology that merges the front-end and back-end of your ecommerce store. Like Solo and Chewie, but for your online business.
BigCommerce offers a variety of B2B features and add-ons you won't find anywhere else. It makes things super easy for hybrid businesses with B2B and B2C customers, allowing them to offer different price lists and transactional options with one unified solution.
You're free to scale your business to new heights without being limited by clunky technology or outdated software. Your online shopping experiences are future-proof, so you can adapt to any technological disruption that may come your way. Moreover, you can create highly personalized front-end experiences on multiple channels, giving your customers the shopping experience they deserve. Last, but not least, you get the flexibility to expand into new territories, languages, and currencies. Your business growth is only limited by your ability to scale. The sky's the limit and the bottom line is yours.
With BigCommerce, it's like a choose-your-own-adventure book, only with more money and zero risk of finding dragons and scary stuff.
Look around, research further, do the math, and check out these FAQs about B2B eCommerce platforms. But rest assured, no other ecommerce platform out there can match the multitude and diversity of features, modules, and tools available with BigCommerce.
If you're looking for a software solution that offers a modern, frictionless ecommerce experience, and we know you are, look no further. BigCommerce is a big win.
Oh, look at the time. It’s switch to BigCommerce o’clock. (We can help with that too. Drop us a line)