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Guide | October 30, 2020

Top Features for B2B E-Commerce Websites Now & Beyond

The face of B2B selling has been dramatically changing. Many of the old ways are gone and they aren’t coming back. And the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the process to happen even faster on a vast scale and here came the rise of B2B eCommerce. Here are the top now-and-beyond features of an eCommerce platform for B2B you need to check out asap.

A. Must-have Features for B2B eCommerce Website

B2B customers act differently due to their unique purchasing of products and process of buying. Therefore, an able eCommerce that delivers the best experience to them shall be customized with features that serve their needs.

See full list of powerful B2B eCommerce features powered by Sitecore and SmartOSC.

1. Complex Pricing

In contrast to the B2C market, which only has one single price for each product, there are often all types of specific pricing structures in the B2B market. It varies for different customers, such as the volume of business you do with them, frequency of orders, type of products. Therefore, your B2B eCommerce system needs to have functionality that can take care of different pricing models.

2. Promotions and Bulk Discounts

Promotions and bulk discounts are B2B’s must-have practices. As for promotions, a time-limited product discount creates a sense of urgency — if your customer doesn’t buy the product now at the discounted price, they know they are likely to miss out on saving money if they wait and buy it later. Therefore, when the promotions only apply to a specific set of clients or geographic areas, the site must quickly adapt to adjust them. 

Moreover, B2B businesses don’t purchase individually. They usually buy products in bulk. And one right way to increase the interaction of traders is by notifying them beforehand about the bulk discounts offer. 

3. Minimum Order Quantity

The Minimum Order Quantity specifies the lowest quantity of a certain product that you are willing to sell to your business customer on the B2B Commerce Portal. It has a major impact over how many days of stock a business holds which in turn reduces the risk obsolescence significantly.

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 The Minimum Order Quantity reduces the risk obsolescence significantly.

B2B eCommerce systems need minimum value to ensure profitability and manage margins. Most of the time, orders that are too small in quantity are not viable to process primarily when it has to be delivered to a faraway location. This must be front and centre of the order page so that your client can acknowledge it and comply with the obligation to buy a certain amount. 

4. Customer Registration

While business-to-consumer (B2C) websites often let buyers checkout without registering, it should be mandatory for B2B customers to register on the website. Since B2B eCommerce stores sell to other businesses, not any individual, it is necessary to have detailed information available from customer registration, different pricing levels, payment terms, discounts, shipping arrangements, and minimum order quantity. Not only will it allow them to verify that they are indeed businesses and get a wholesale discount, but it can allow the website to store invoices and purchase orders.

5. Tax Exemption

Managing B2C eCommerce transactions from a tax compliance standpoint poses a number of complexities. There are some products where tax is paid, and some are where tax is to be exempted, and many more varieties on this theme. For example, in 2018, 619 standard sales tax rate changes occurred in the U.S alone. During the past decade, there were a total of 5,886 changed sales tax rates – an average of 588 changes annually in the country.

Determining the correct sales tax on a product so it’s in accordance with the many tax jurisdictions – whose rules apply to each online transaction, depending on where the buyer and seller are located – is not a trivial matter. Therefore, it is vital for your system to help buyers as well as sellers ensure that the correct amount of sales tax has been calculated to make sure they don’t overpay or underpay. 

6. Flexible Payment Options

Buyers’ payment decisions depend on the methods their suppliers accept. Not offering a buyer’s preferred method can be enough to make them choose or switch to a competitor. That is why integrating multiple payment options into the checkout process makes the entire experience faster and ultimately more enjoyable. B2B traders around the world use payment options like ACH Payments, Partial Payments, Vantiv, Credit Line Payments, and Paymetric, etc. And remember to notify your buyers of the requirements that an order number must be purchased with the feasibility to pay within 30 days of credit. 

7. PWA

PWA stands for progressive web app. It combines features offered by most modern browsers with the benefits of mobile experience such as push notifications, offline support, and much more. With the help of PWA, your business can optimize speed of loading and smooth interaction with the user. This shall help quickly load their invoice, submit quote even if they are on the move without a computer. Furthermore, the push notifications feature of PWA can send deals and discounts, delivery state to B2B buyers via phone instead of emails, which opens an opportunity to engage more with your B2B buyers on each stage of their buying journey.

B. B2B Features of the Future

1. Augmented Reality as Product Demonstration

Although augmented reality (AR) is mostly known as a technology used for entertainment purposes, it has a lot to offer to businesses as well. When you deal with business to business (B2B) sales, all properties of your product or service must persuade the potential client that it will increase their company’s profit. There should also be something impressive in your offer that makes it stand out. This is where AR can enter the stage and become a handy sales and client engagement tool. Realizing its effectiveness, in the eCommerce Trends Report 2020, AR was pointed as a game-changing technology.

First, AR helps with the products presentation as it can make interacting with the client remotely easier and more enjoyable. And the clients can see all the perks of the product without physically interacting with it. Secondly, as physical exhibitions and events are a completely different environment now, you need to stand out among dozens of other companies. And this is another application of AR — you can use it to make impressions on your virtual exhibitions.

And one the most successful leaders in applying AR is Magna Imperio Systems Corp., a manufacturer of desalination systems. They have made a strong impression on their customers and audiences with the creative use of AR. Let’s see how it gets done.

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[Photo Source]

  • Challenge

The sales process of Magna Imperio Systems is lengthy, with buyers scrutinizing reams of technical specifications, including what can be large dimensions, to see if equipment is a good fit for their operations and available space. It’s not uncommon for different teams of buyers from the same company to make five or six visits to a factory that makes the equipment before deciding on a purchase.

  • Solutions

To create a more productive sale process, they have provided ample information to buyers without requiring five or six in-person visits — a technique MI Systems has been pulling off with a new 3D, augmented reality system that lets buyers use mobile devices at their home location to view how customized equipment will fit their space. Sales reps and customers can access the system via a web browser through a desktop or mobile device, which they can use to rotate and zoom in to view product details.

  • Outcomes

- 50% fewer factory visits 

- 67% reduction in the sales cycle

2. VR as Interactive Sales Engagement

In 2017, Sirius Decisions reported that B2B salespeople’s top challenge is “their inability to communicate value differentiation.” And it can be said that VR is being considered by many B2B enterprises. Since B2B products are often more substantial, more complex and harder to sell outside a physical space (i.e., showrooms, shop floors, plants, etc.), it would be great to give your customers a way to fully explore and interact with the products with VR.

Moreover, B2B eCommerce is even more competitive as the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable. The situation is asking you to step out of your comfort zone to be able to stay in the industry. After the outstanding product display with AR, it is best to head-start with a VR experience, allowing buyers to creatively explore and interact with the products you sell. Virtual demonstration of the solutions gives customers a new and convenient experience (how to use your products in particular situation, how they sound when operating,...) and speed up the buying process by featuring your services in a more informative way.

Lloyd, a company that provides safety training, has won the game with their creative approach. Let’s dig deep into the secret of their success now.

  • Challenge

Lloyd’s Register helps organizations within the energy industry with the safety and performance of their business operations. Training clients in their understanding and use of energy equipment is one of its key offerings. But, due to the market downturn, as the industry cut its investment it became critical that Lloyd’s Register’s training services maintained its market share. 

  • Solutions

To address these, the team created a virtual reality safety simulator. Three catastrophic industry events were created in VR and gamified. In each scenario, lives are at risk if people don’t take the right action. ‘Players’ put on a headset, see the incidents and then have the chance to fix them and learn more. The headset, a laptop and an iPad are the only items needed, which makes the learning experience far more portable than the real safety equipment used in the classroom. 

  • Outcomes

Since the launch, Lloyd’s Register has seen an uplift in training bookings and has already achieved 3x ROI. The company is now taking its training offering even further, creating AR experiences so that whole teams can work together to solve scenarios.

3. Voice Shopping & Chatbots as CX and Sales Assistant

Using chatbots and voice shopping will still be a leading trend in B2B eCommerce. The first and foremost reason is that chatbots are one of the best solutions for great customer service, which help improve the customer shopping experience. They can reduce a great amount of waiting time since they are programmed to find information more quickly than a salesperson, not to mention that they can work 24/7. Though voice shopping and chatbots may have not solved complex questions from B2B buyers, they are still useful when answering basic questions about things like prices and product descriptions, which helps speed up the process for customers of getting to know your brand.

SmartOSC are experts at applying creative and revolutionary concepts to leading global eCommerce platforms and B2B businesses. If you are curious about how exactly this strategy will improve your business, contact us today!

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