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The danger of buying a B2C e-commerce platform for a B2B business!

B2B ver B2C

Are you a medium to large business owner that sells to other businesses and are looking for a new B2B e-commerce platform?

If so, it's important to understand that B2B e-commerce demands much more than B2C platforms can provide.

We see so many B2B companies getting sold generic and B2C platforms because they have selected a web company that does not understand the complex nature of the needs of B2B businesses. The outcome most usually ends in failed projects or at best meeting basic customer needs. The main reason is that there are very few web companies specialising in B2B platforms.

B2B e-commerce requires more advanced features than B2C because of the complex nature of a business-to-business relationship and the demands that imposes on technology.

In this blog post we'll explore why B2B requires a different set of features to meet customer demand and excell in a competitive market. We will also discuss the importance of extensibility in the B2B e-commerce platforms and how these platforms can help increase efficiency and streamline processes.


Understanding the key differences between B2C and B2B e-commerce platforms

The customers of B2B companies are very different from B2C retail consumers. Business buyers have different needs and as they are professional buyers many of these needs become demands. Here are some of the typical B2B demands that the 360 Commerce platform meets.

Demand for Multiple Ordering Methods

As well as the standard single product B2C Add-to-cart’ scenario, B2B customers want different ways of ordering.

For example, they may want to add different bulk sizes of a particular product to a cart. Rather than having to go to a dozen or so product pages and order them one at a time, they want to be able to select the sizes from a table and add them all to the cart with just one click.

Some customers with a long list of all the items that they need for a project will want to be able to upload a CSV file of those items and have the website add all the items to the cart automatically.

For control reasons, some buyers want to place orders from within their procurement system but also, for convenience reasons, they want to select the products on the website. A Punch Out (Round Trip) integration to their procurement system will enable them to do this. They start out in their procurement system and with one click “punch out” to the supplier’s web site, add products to the cart then click on a button in the cart that takes them back to the procurement system. That action transfers the contents of their cart to the procurement system which sends a purchase order to their supplier. The advantage is that all their downstream procurement processes are initiated without any manual work.

Demand for Efficiencies

Placing an order is just the first step. Time can be saved in downstream accounting tasks and ensuring the right person receives the order (sometimes on behalf of someone else). This is facilitated by having fields in the check out page available for any combination of a purchase order number, cost centre, product name or number, customer reference or a “care of” field”. In addition with a fully integrated e-commerce website there is no need to manually upload and maintain all your product and customer information to

Demand for Cost Control Features

Procurement managers often demand restricted catalogues as a way of cutting costs. For example, they may want some of their buyers to only see and order products from a restricted range of approved products and allow senior manager to see and order from a larger range of products.

This could be done to cut costs but also to ensure only quality products or suitable products are purchased.

Demand for Customer Portal Features

Some B2B businesses have a set of customers who want to be able to view and download invoices and credit notes, view aged balances, download their price-list, view quotes or view all previous orders whether placed on their website or by phone or email. This also saves valuable internal company administration staff time as well.

A good B2B e-Commerce platform integrated to an ERP system is able to offer those features and all the data is up-to-the-second.

Demand for Complex Pricing

Businesses selling online to B2C retail consumers have very simple pricing rules. Businesses selling to other businesses (B2B) have very complex pricing. This is managed in their ERP system which means that the website must be integrated to the ERP system so that online pricing is accurate and up to date. The website must also present the correct applicable prices for every customer/product combination.

Examples of complex B2B pricing functionality are assigning a customer to a price level, assigning a customer to different price levels for different products, quantity break pricing, periodic promotional pricing and contract pricing.

Demand for Group and Role Based Permissions

An increasing number of B2B customers want their suppliers to have ecommerce platforms that give the ability to restrict or allow what their individual staff members can see. For example recently a 360 Commerce client asked us how they could configure their website so that, for certain customers, only senior managers could see price-lists and invoices, only senior and middle managers could place orders and see their actual buy prices. Apprentices could see products but not the buy prices.

Demand for Increased Efficiency and Streamlined Processes

A good B2B specific e-commerce platorm enables customers to self-serve for many of their needs reducing the need for manual intervention. This can help increase efficiency, reduce errors, and improve the overall customer experience.

Integration to any third-party system – ERP, CRM, provides the following benefits:

  • Reduce Staff Costs
  • Reduced Error Rates
  • Reduce Manual Data Entry
  • Eliminate Double Handling of Data
  • Free Up Key Staff
  • Display Actual Inventory Numbers
  • Request a return authorisation

Demand for Extensibility of B2B Ecommerce Platforms

Often B2B businesses have specific requirements and practices or processes unique to their business and target markets. This means that it is important that a B2B eCommerce platform can be extended and modified.

As an example, at the request of a new client who sold mainly to retailers, 360 Commerce recently implemented a new feature called Front Desk mode.

This client’s customers needed to be able show their customers a website product page that only had the recommended retail price when the screen was facing the customer and made their buy price and stock availability visible when the screen was turned away from the customer.

The highly modular structure of the 360 Commerce platform meant that this feature was easy to add and is now a standard feature.


You will significantly increase your chances of success and reduce costs by selecting a vendor who can provide most the above-mentioned features on Day 1 of your project, while being flexible enough to new functionality and modules as you require them.

This also ensures your website will not only address the needs of your existing customers but will also bring you new customers and give you a formidable competitive advantage.

The 360 Commerce platform gives you all of this out-of-the-box! With over 200 features, 360 Commerce will do everything you need.

We can easily add new functionality and features to ensure that your website optimised for your business now and in the future.

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 which meets all of the above demands. 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

About the author

Jason Platt

Jason Platt

I admit that I’ve always been a bit of a geek. At 12 I dismantled our new family TV to see how it worked, and, yes, I did have a few problems putting it back together! I still have an inquiring mind and believe it’s absolutely essential for anyone seeking to lead from the front in the online industry.
I have a strong background in strategic business and management having held managerial and executive positions in the online industry for over 20 years.