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Choosing the Right B2B/B2C eCommerce Platform - Part 1

Business Goals and Strategy

As is the case for all major business decisions, you should start with your company’s business goals and strategy and keep in mind the real needs of your customers and own staff when choosing an eCommerce platform.

You also need to make sure that you look well into the future when making the platform evaluation.

1. What Are Your Business Goals?

Your business goals are derived from your company’s strategy.

In any year most companies can only prioritise a small number of goals so don’t aim for too many targets or you may risk missing them all.

What are you looking for over the next 3 to 5 years?

  • Gaining a strategic advantage over competitors?
  • Increased acquisition of new customers?
  • Reducing customer churn?
  • Getting more profitable customers?
  • Reducing the cost of serving customers?
  • Freeing up your team from low value tasks?
  • Making your sales team more productive?
  • Simplifying back office processes?
  • Growing market share in existing markets?
  • New market segments?
  • New geographic markets?
  • Product range extensions?
  • Diversification?

2. Your Customers’ Purchasing Cycle

We know of two competitors who are selling exactly the same industrial products but have diametrically opposed business strategies.

One has closed all its branches and is selling only online and the other has been opening new branches and is selling mainly person-to-person.

At first glance, one might think that they have totally different eCommerce needs but let’s dig a little deeper.

They both have a major goal of taking market share by gaining more customers and that one goal alone will influence their future website platform decisions.

To acquire more customers, both websites will have to drive prospective customers through all steps of the customer recruiting funnel.

The customer purchasing cycle is not just about placing orders: it covers all of the steps below;

    • Awareness of having a need
    • Search for suppliers
    • Research potential suppliers
    • Select a supplier
    • Purchase
    • Easy repeat purchases
    • Customer Portal access for
      • Invoices
      • Credit Notes
      • Quotes
      • Aged Account Balances
      • Price Files
      • Loyalty

So, as an example, if your goal is to get more customers and retain them profitably, then your eCommerce website needs to be a high performer at every stage of your their journey from starting as an anonymous visitor to becoming a loyal, high profit customer.

Customer Stage
Website Aspects

Customer has a product need

  • Landing pages for your digital marketing
  • Landing pages for your email marketing
  • Product/Blog content

Searching for candidate product suppliers

  • Plenty of high-quality website content for search engine optimisation
  • Lead magnets
  • High ranking on search engine page results for specific keywords

Researching potential product suppliers on their shortlist

Within seconds of landing on your site, prospective customers need answers to these questions;

  • Who is this company?
  • What do they do?
  • Can they provide me with the product I need?
  • Do they look trustworthy?
  • Do I want to contact them?
  • How can I contact them right now using my preferred method?

Selecting a supplier from the shortlist of researched potential suppliers

  • Your brand representation
  • High quality and appropriate website design
  • A great website user experience
  • Content, content, content
  • Easy to contact
  • Can apply for an account online

First purchase

  • Feeling safe
  • Finding the right products is easy and fast
  • Adding to cart and checking out is easy and fast

Repeat purchases

Order anywhere, anyway, at any time, on any device

  • Order from search results
  • Order from product suggestions
  • Order from favourites lists
  • Order from product order history
  • Order from previous orders
  • Order from variant drop down lists
  • Order from variant tables
  • Order from within “marketing pages”
  • Order from within landing pages
  • Order on behalf of other people
  • Order on a mobile device including by barcode scanning

Loyalty

  • Continuous improvement
  • Every aspect of the site is intuitive and comfortable to use – don’t make your customers have to think
  • Customer Portal for access to
    • Invoices
    • Credit Notes
    • Quotes
    • Aged Account Balances
    • Price Files
    • Order History
    • Courier Tracking Numbers

3. Website Goals

Once you have identified your important business goals and know your customers well, both current and future, your website goals will jump out at you. In turn, your website goals will drive your platform choice.

For example, if attracting more customers is equally important to giving your customers a great online ordering platform and a customer portal, you will need an eCommerce platform that offers high-quality design capabilities and great eCommerce functionality.

This means that your platform will need a sophisticated Content Management System as well as very flexible, powerful, comprehensive and configurable set of B2B eCommerce features.

Look out for Part 2 "Common Mistakes Made When Choosing an eCommerce Website Platform"

 

Where Does 360 Commerce Fit In?

360 Commerce is a powerful, integrated, scalable B2B/B2C eCommerce platform. It was built specifically for B2B environments and has all the features to meet the complex needs of B2B businesses and customers while also providing a great B2C retail solution on the same platform.

The unique 360 Commerce platform architecture is constructed of configurable components that provide over 200 features, all of which can be configured to your business needs.

Save Time and Reduce Risk - Get A Copy of the 360 Commerce Feature List

To save you time we have created this checklist of existing 360 Commerce website functionality. Having this list in your hands will mean that you won’t forget anything and will also give you the ability to assess different platforms for functionality.

Download Free Feature Checklist Now

 

360 Commerce’s Philosophy

  • We believe that you should be able see all the features you are going to get before you sign the contract.
  • We believe that having to replace your website every few years is wasteful.
  • We believe that your site should evolve as technology evolves without incurring surprise costs.
  • We believe that enormous power, flexibility and agility should be yours to control with just a few clicks.
  • We believe that eCommerce is not just about taking orders.
  • We believe that you should have certainty about your ongoing costs.

About the author

David Haysom

David Haysom

23 years online experience which includes:

  • 8 years as eCommerce Manager for NZ's largest online product supplier - OfficeMax
  • 6 years as eCommerce Manager for Warehouse Stationery
  • 2 years as an eCommerce Product Manager

 

Email: David@360commerce.co.nz

LinkedInwww.linkedin.com/in/davidhaysom/