In fact, even today, many business customers can no longer operate without e-commerce solutions. B2B e-commerce today is characterized by strong growth rates and high sales potential. The trend is clearly in favor of mobile e-commerce which, expectedly, is the logical course of development. An ever-growing number of buyers use their smartphones or tablets for searching and also use or would prefer to use these devices for business-related purchases.
To exploit this potential more efficiently, B2B needs more than merely shopping solutions. The use of conventional B2C apps by B2B companies too is not uncommon. Several B2C shopping apps are available on the market. They seem to be professional and work very well in B2C commerce. To think that such B2C solutions could meet the complex demands of B2B e-commerce would, however, be a serious blunder.
So why try to tweak solutions designed for B2C commerce instead of investing directly in professional B2B e-commerce apps and the relevant know-how? The result would be more effective and more successful.
An e-commerce app will only be successful if it fulfills the needs of the customers – in this case B2B customers – and clearly provides added value. A regular B2C shopping app cannot deliver this. Adding a product to the shopping cart, checking out and paying is simply not sufficient for business customers. B2B e-commerce apps need to be checked beforehand for business-specific requirements and the relevant features have to be designed accordingly. Specialized B2B e-commerce app providers therefore initially conduct a workshop in which a customer-specific catalog of requirements containing the precise needs and feature descriptions is compiled. Among other things, important aspects such as delivery and ordering options, types of use and views based on predefined access authorization, real-time stocks, customer-specific prices, specified options for ordering quantities (for instance, linear meters), two-hand operation of the app, display of data sheets and instructions or scanning functions for storage and warehousing also need to be clarified. B2B retailers also need to consider additional potential functions of the app such as aborting or suspending orders, returns management, in-store checkout, orders on consignment, express delivery or pickup.
Five important aspects that need to be mapped by a B2B-specific e-commerce app:
1. B2B customers have various users
Companies often have several users with different authorizations and purchasing functions. A B2B shop must therefore take into account flexible customer structures and provide profiles with customized functions, settings and restrictions. User authorization, for instance, should specify which individuals may view and change the contents of the shopping cart. Thanks to different viewing options, the app can also be used as an end-customer catalog: in this case, the net prices are simply hidden and only gross prices are displayed.
2. Product information
Especially in wholesale, product ranges are complex and extensive. It is necessary for an app to cater to detailed information, download options for data sheets or configuration options.
3. Efficient search function
For extensive product offers, combinations of text and filter search functions provide precise results. Furthermore, the barcode scanner search function is especially practical.
The standard shopping cart checkout is not enough for most business customers. In most cases, additional approval procedures between the purchaser and the chief purchaser, suspended orders, customer-specific views, in-store checkout, different delivery locations, orders on consignment or quantity discounts need to be considered.
5. Multiple orders
In day-to-day business, standard products are reordered very frequently. In this context, user-specific shopping lists with preferred products and quantities simplify transactions.