B2B PLATFORMS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MODERN E-COMMERCE SALES FOR BUSINESSES
Why is a B2B platform a necessity today?
B2B platforms are advanced systems that enable convenient and fast order placement, invoicing, customer management, and much more. In today's business landscape, B2B platforms have become a necessity for companies operating in the Business to Business sector. Why? Primarily because of the increasing preference of customers for the convenience of browsing available products and placing complex orders through online platforms rather than via email or phone. Businesses must adapt to market demands and offer their products and services in this way.
B2B platforms allow for easier scalability of businesses and conducting sales in multiple markets, which is particularly important for companies aiming to grow, achieve higher profits, and facing challenges in finding an adequate number of qualified sales representatives. With a B2B platform, businesses can not only streamline processes and increase efficiency but often completely automate them.
A B2B platform enables easy and quick presentation of products and services to customers, facilitates transparency and access to transaction details, ultimately leading to customer satisfaction and loyalty. As a result, a company can gain a competitive edge and succeed in the B2B market. Without an appropriate platform, it becomes increasingly difficult to compete and secure a stable position in the industry, and sometimes even to survive.
Functionalities of B2B platforms
The functionalities of B2B platforms vary widely and are tailored to the individual needs of enterprises, distinguishing them clearly from traditional B2C stores. Below is a list of functionalities that you should consider when working on such a platform.
At the heart of every B2B platform is integration with an ERP system, which serves as the source of truth for pricing, inventory levels, and products offered to specific customers. Many ERP systems offer built-in modules for creating online platforms, but this may not be the best approach if you are planning substantial growth and expansion. Maintaining one massive ERP system, while tempting for a quick go-to-market of the platform and integration cost savings, can become a rapid blocker for further development, affecting the efficiency and stability of crucial aspects related to managing a company's most important resources.
Another important integration is with a CRM system, provided your company already has a separate system for managing customer relationships. Such integration is essential when your platform aims not only at automating some business processes but also at being a crucial element in real sales growth. Connecting with CRM, which often offers many marketing automation functionalities, allows scenarios related to order reminders, building special offers per customer, or rewarding customers with the highest turnover.
In addition to integrations, there are several functionalities that a B2B customer service platform should have, including:
Integration of price lists per customer/customer groups, allowing for different prices and offers based on individual customer needs.
Dedicated offers for individual customers/customer groups, enabling the creation of personalized offers, increasing the chances of finalizing sales.
Multiple customer/buyer accounts linked to one company's master account, with a designated account manager assigned to each account, making it easier to manage relationships with customers and suppliers.
Warehouse management module, which can handle scenarios such as individual stock levels dedicated to specific customers, differentiating batches of the same goods, or storing inventory information based on specific delivery points.
Complaint handling, reporting, analysis systems, and access to a complete transaction history with a particular customer are further examples of functionalities that aid in effective B2B sales management. Make sure to assess the capabilities of the platform you plan to choose in this regard.
Apart from the mentioned functionalities, B2B platforms may offer dedicated solutions for payments, handling orders in bulk packaging and pallets, or managing additional media such as certificates or promotional materials. It's essential to create a B2B platform that caters to the specific needs and requirements of your enterprise.
Benefits of implementing a B2B platform
Implementing a B2B platform in a business brings many benefits. Such a solution allows companies to streamline their business processes, increase efficiency, leading to increased sales and improved market position.
Some benefits of implementing a B2B platform include:
ability to conduct sales in multiple markets and languages,
easier and faster access to information and data for customers,
automation of order placement and document circulation processes,
improved customer and supplier relationships,
increased operational efficiency and cost reduction,
easy scalability of the platform as the business grows,
attracting new customers (if you decide to open your platform to the world).
Implementing a B2B platform is an investment that pays off in the form of increased sales, improved customer and supplier relationships, and streamlined business processes. However, it is essential to note that selecting the right platform and its implementation should be preceded by a careful analysis of business needs and goals to ensure the best outcomes for the enterprise. Given the scale of customers and orders in the B2B business, this is not a project where experimentation and learning are advisable. It is crucial to find an experienced implementation partner in this area.
Designing B2B platforms
The UX/UI design of a B2B platform should reflect business needs and requirements while ensuring intuitiveness and user-friendliness. This way, users can place orders more quickly and efficiently, resulting in satisfied customers and more efficient B2B sales management.
Key aspects to consider in the UX/UI design of a B2B platform are:
easy navigation and finding necessary information,
clarity and transparency of the interface,
consistency in interface design,
personalization and customization to meet user needs,
ease of managing and searching for products,
clarity in presenting data and information,
responsiveness and adaptability to various devices.
When designing B2B platforms, conducting interviews with customers and involving them in the process is recommended. Not only will this help design a better platform, but it will also improve relationships with customers, who will see your company's genuine efforts to enhance their daily work comfort.
B2B Platform and Magento 2
While many solutions are dedicated to B2B, Magento 2 is also an excellent choice for implementing such a platform. Although Magento 2 is more commonly associated with B2C sales, it can efficiently serve business customers when extended with specific key modules. Magento (Adobe) Commerce, which comes with a paid license, already incorporates functionalities listed above in the article. However, this doesn't mean you're obligated to spend significant amounts on licenses from the start. A B2B platform can successfully be deployed on the open-source version of this software.
Magento 2 in its open-source version already provides functionalities for easier handling of B2B sales, such as individual pricing and offer customization for customers, order process automation, and integration with ERP systems through ready-made API interfaces. By installing additional extensions, you can enhance Magento with the capability to link multiple customer accounts to one company or take advantage of generating and managing quotations before actual order placement. You can utilize solutions provided by third-party companies or create custom modules to have full control over the code base, ensuring stability and predictable development costs (which we recommend).
A B2B e-commerce platform based on Magento 2, thanks to its advanced multistore support, is suitable for scaling into international markets and allows for simultaneous B2C sales in different languages and currencies. Additionally, you can add dedicated functionalities, microservices, and a PWA layer to it. An e-commerce B2B platform based on Magento 2 provides a stable and flexible solution for companies aiming to increase B2B sales.
B2B platforms are incredibly valuable tools for companies aiming to increase efficiency and reduce business costs. Implementing a B2B platform should enable your customers to place orders conveniently and quickly, automate business processes, and enable you to reach customers worldwide without the need to hire sales representatives (at least for certain segments of your customers). However, it's important to remember that implementing a B2B platform requires time and financial investment, and cutting corners in this regard could cost your business significantly more than losing an individual B2C transaction.
If you're interested in implementing a B2B platform in your enterprise, feel free to contact us to schedule a free 60-minute consultation.