During the past few years eCommerce has drastically impacted the way B2B (business to business) businesses operate. The once familiar landscape of customer acquisition, customer retention, sales, service, support and order fulfillment has been permanently altered. In our experience gleaned from more than a decade of designing and developing B2B eCommerce websites across various industries I’ve compiled a list of 5 common obstacles to B2B eCommerce success.
1. CHOOSING THE WRONG ECOMMERCE WEB DEVELOPER OR AGENCY
B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) eCommerce projects can be different animals altogether. More often than not with B2B eCommerce you’ll need a much more customized shopping, checkout and customer relationship management experience on the site at minimal. If you’re like many B2B clients we service you’ll likely even require more advanced eCommerce capabilities such as price quote request features and/or purchase order management along with the ability to assign custom pricing rules based on the discount you assign to specific customer groups.
Custom features like “percent off discounts” based on volume purchases would also fall into this customization requirement as those features can be quite common for B2B eCommerce sites. In fact if you want to truly set your B2B eCommerce site up for success you’re going to want to customize it based off of your own unique business model while at the same time simplifying the user experience. At Georgia Web Development we’ve been successfully developing and designing B2B eCommerce websites for more than a decade now.
Do your homework when choosing your B2B eCommerce developer or agency. Do they have a portfolio on their own website that you can view and one that links to active and working B2B eCommerce sites that they’ve developed, designed and launched for their clients? They shouldn’t hesitate to provide you with references upon request of previous and existing clients as well.
Seldom does a complex B2B eCommerce project not require close collaboration and partnership with other software vendors and related agencies but if quality and communication is important for your project (it should be) you may want to insure that the work isn’t being outsourced overseas. At Georgia Web Development we take great pride in keeping all of our eCommerce development and design work in-house in the USA.
2. NOT CONSIDERING SITE INTEGRATION NEEDS
You can’t afford to ignore the integration needs of your B2B eCommerce website. While your eCommerce shop typically only accounts for the front-end needs of your businesses there’s more that happens after an order is placed right? Sure there is! Manually entering data is time consuming, error prone, and simply isn’t scalable. Your eCommerce site should integrate seamlessly with your other business systems like accounting, shipping and marketing to automate the syncing of information like customers, inventory, pricing and shipping between systems.
From QuickBooks and other accounting software to UPS, FEDex, USPS and other commonly used business software, Georgia Web Development can integrate your business systems directly into your B2B eCommerce system. This insures the minimal of manual entry processes that would need to be completed outside of your B2B eCommerce website. Efficiency while maintaining accuracy is the goal of any well developed and well designed eCommerce system. Yours should not be any different.
3. IGNORING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Bad B2B eCommerce stores are plentiful on the web today. From poor user experience, slow site speed, to horrible viewing and usage on mobile devices. With consumer expectations influenced by the more modern B2C eCommerce shops, the traditional B2B eCommerce stores should take heed.
At minimal your B2B eCommerce shop should offer similar, if not better, experience as any B2C eCommerce website out there. This includes features like custom pricing, product recommendations, order history display and ease of reordering based on past purchases etc.
4.THIN OR NOT ENOUGH CONTENT
Content is king when it comes to eCommerce. To do well with your B2B eCommerce website I can’t encourage you enough to go above and beyond the traditional text and basic image content. Just like B2C the B2B eCommerce marketplace is extremely competitive. You’ll want to make sure you capitalize with great content. This includes relevant articles and educational resources, high quality product images along with well written product descriptions and product meta information.
This means taking the time to either write great content and product descriptions yourself or being prepared to pay for a professional to help you with all of that. Either way it’s a critical piece of the whole B2B eCommerce equation and you can’t afford not to do well with your content.
5. NEGLECTING SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO will be one of the most critical aspects of your B2B eCommerce website. Contrary to what most SEO experts would like you to believe, great SEO is not rocket science nor is it shrouded in mystery. It is indeed work, purposeful educated work at that. But you need not spend a ton of money nor should you necessarily need to go hire a so-called SEO expert to have it done right. Any experienced eCommerce website developer or designer worth their weight in salt will set your site up for success at the outset. Once you’re set up correctly following SEO best practices across the site you most certainly can continue to work on developing and/or refining the SEO even more.
Great basic SEO involves using both accurate and good keywords in your landing and product pages, accurate and descriptive page titles, appropriate use of HTML tags, including Meta content, using alt attribute for images, and obviously a bit more. Write your content for the humans that will be using your site and not the SEO robots. I can’t emphasize this point enough.
FREE B2B eCommerce Website Consultation & Project Quote
Simply use the form on the bottom of this page to send us your B2B eCommerce website questions or request a FREE eCommerce project proposal. You can even include a phone number (optional) and we’ll call you. In regards to projecting the costs associated with your B2B eCommerce website be sure to check out my eCommerce costs guide. Although it’s geared more towards B2C eCommerce many of the same principles and pointers will still apply to your project as well.
At Georgia Web Development we know first hand the many challenges and decisions that you’ll face along the way to establishing a successful B2B eCommerce presence on the web. From choosing the right eCommerce website hosting provider to deciding on the best eCommerce platform we’re here to offer our free expert advice and eCommerce industry knowledge without any fancy sales pitches thrown in (we promise).
Best wishes on your B2B eCommerce venture!
Mark D. Hulett is the Senior eCommerce Website Developer & Designer at Georgia Web Development. His experience and working knowledge of eCommerce website development and design spans more than a decade.