Whenever we hear the term “online store”, most often the mental image that comes to our mind is not of B2B ecommerce platforms but of B2C stores such as Amazon selling jewellery, footwear, apparel, groceries etc.
Both retail and wholesale are two sides of the same coin, facing different directions, and handling the different needs of their customers with different features. But since there are relatively few articles about B2B as compared to B2C, here we are, shedding light on the less known world of B2B.
Today, if you look around, more and more wholesale customers are shopping online. A recent study conducted by Forrester claims that more than 74% of business customers perform their pre-purchase researches online. Moreover, 90% conduct their business purchase on B2B ecommerce platforms with an online search.
But don’t make the mistake of confusing the needs and requirements of Business to Business customers to that of B2C. That’s why the companies that serve these customers opt for different features and strategies for their customers.
A few of such must-have features are listed here to make your wholesale ecommerce store an online success.
1. Personalized pricing
Unlike B2C portals that adopt a uniform pricing policy for all customers, B2B businesses offer prices that are as exclusive as their customers. Moreover, they offer bundle pricing for certain combinations of products too. Which is why your B2B ecommerce solution must be designed in such a way that when a customer logs in, he can access the personalized price, based on ordering quantity and other discounts.
2. Bulk order placement
Business to Business customers usually place large orders. In such a case, searching for all the products from your online catalogue can be tedious and time-consuming. To simplify, you can offer a bulk ordering form to your consumers. Just make sure this form enables your customers to add products with just SKU besides letting them specify the quantity for each item and upon completion take them directly to the checkout page of your B2B ecommerce platform.
3. Flexible payments
Where in B2C, customers pay immediately before processing an order, B2B businesses take a different approach. They focus more on maintaining relationship which often involves extending a line of credit to their clients, hence flexible payment options. So, while offering flexibility, make sure that you offer multiple online payment methods such as IMES, NEFT, RTGS, credit cards etc. besides options for offline payments as well.
4. 24/7 customer support
Another must-have feature for your B2B ecommerce solution is the on-hand customer support which works much more efficiently than a simple ”Contact Us” page. This real-time customer support can be provided to your wholesale clients through a live-chat facility besides a “Request a free quote” form. And even though it will use some of your resources, with time you will recognize the real worth of this service.
5. User-friendly searches
Improving the search functionality of your ecommerce website is one of the best things you can offer your customers. You don’t want them navigating your entire product list to search the items of their choice, do you? And no, a simple search bar on your B2B ecommerce platform won’t suffice. You will need enhanced search functionalities such as filtering, long-tail searches and auto-complete.
6. Mobile-friendly experience
Mobile is the norm of today’s culture. Which is why having just mobile-friendly sites is not enough, you are also expected to provide your clients with the best user experience. So, while designing a mobile responsive site, make sure it is fast loading and offers optimized experience across all screens. Also, place a call to action buttons at the top to avoid endless scrolling.
7. Minimum order quantity
Wholesale businesses, as we know, sell products in wholesale quantities. Business to Business customers too must order a minimum specified quantity for the order to be completed. So, depending on the nature of your business, here are a few features you must seek in your B2B ecommerce solution:
- Minimum order quantity for particular products.
- Minimum order amount for eligibility, and
- Product multiples for orders sold as a group
8. Advanced checkout
Lastly, you need an advanced checkout process for your wholesale website so as to facilitate faster and easier checkout besides reducing shopping cart abandonment. You can achieve this by allowing customers to:
- Pay for the orders via multiple payment methods
- Retrieve payment information about previous orders
- Repeat a previously placed order with minimum hassles
- Transfer the shipping charge to their delivery partner accounts
Nobody said launching a successful online store is an easy job. It requires you to choose the right B2B ecommerce platform, one that has all the advanced features and added functionalities to ensure that it works the way you want. And now with the list of must-have features in hand, we believe you can find a reputable platform, one that understands your business and your customers.
But before that, book a free demo to get well acquainted with the platform before committing to any.