Are you one of those organizations that believe that investing in a B2B e-commerce platform is all that is needed to get your business going? Have you felt a nagging sense that somehow the platform isn’t the magic pill you hoped it would be?
Investing in such platforms is only the first step. Successful organizations conduct regular evaluations of how the platform is performing to ensure that it is an optimal fit.
There are multiple ways to evaluate the B2B e-commerce platform you use. No matter how you do it, the platform must prove more than satisfactory in the following areas.
One of the first things you need to determine is if the platform is meeting your company’s business objectives. Having a best-in-class platform means very little if it doesn’t help you meet your objectives.
Designed for B2B
The platform you use must necessarily be able to cater to the needs of your niche, i.e., B2B. A generic platform is not created with the nuances of B2B e-commerce in mind, so you may find yourself missing out on a lot of opportunities to maximize sales.
Many businesses struggle to choose between vendors. The video below talks about how using a traditional purchasing process designed for B2C won’t work well for B2B. It takes too long to go through an RFI (request for information), then RFP (request for proposal) to finally arrive at the POC (proof of concept).
If you don’t ask the right questions in the RFI, you will end up with the wrong platform or a design that doesn’t meet your needs. In this video, the consultant explains his agile process for selecting software for B2Bs. We include it here to give businesses a better idea of how to go about deciding which B2B ecommerce platform to use.
Your customers’ needs are unique and so are those of your business. In order to be the right fit, your B2B e-commerce platform must feature functionality that can be customized to your requirements. This will give you leverage in terms of efficiency, customer experience and overall performance.
What kind of resources does the platform require to be operational? Is the organization able to engage adequate number of dedicated team members to make the most of the platform?
With complexity in business increasing by the day, it is necessary to tack on additional functions when required. When the e-commerce platforms don’t provide the particular functionality you’re looking for, the ideal solution is to use third-party applications and integrating the same with the platform. However, if your platform doesn’t allow third-party integrations, you could find yourself stuck in a rut in more ways than one.
Another aspect to examine is how the financial aspects related to the platform are working for you. Is the pricing model comfortable enough as per budgetary considerations? Does the vendor allow easy migration from one pricing plan to another? How is the total cost of ownership impacting your organization? If you believe that your purse strings need to be tightened, you may have to consider changing your platform.
Plenty of B2B e-commerce players are still using on-premise systems. It is, however, becoming imperative to move to cloud-delivered platforms. According to Gartner, in 2015, worldwide spending on digital commerce software had attained a 15% year-over-year increase. What’s more, Forrester predicts that the B2B e-commerce market alone will be worth $1.1T compared to the B2C market at $480B.
Successful B2B e-commerce players are moving to cloud-delivered platforms to combat outdated processes, limited sales channels, and poor customer experience. Cloud-delivered platforms not only provide insight to customer experience, they also help you personalize the experience and minimize friction.
All these factors aside, it is, admittedly, not an easy process to transition from one platform to another. However, restrictive or under-performing e-commerce platforms are toxic to your organization’s push for success. In comparison, a meticulously planned transition to an ideally suited e-commerce platform can facilitate a significant boost in sales and revenue. The choice is pretty clear.