B2B eCommerce Challenges- and How Magento Addresses Them

In a 2015 study by Forrester, it was predicted that by 2019, the B2B eCommerce market will be worth $1.1 trillion, while the B2C market will be worth just $480 billion. With the B2B eCommerce space growing so rapidly, B2B merchants face a unique set of challenges that most B2C merchants don’t. We’ve pinpointed 5 of the biggest concerns, and some ideas for addressing them, here.

1. Customizable Offerings– Businesses are unique, and often they require a very specific set of products or items. Rather than sending a customer to your entire site’s catalog to search for what they need, wouldn’t you rather be able to create a custom catalog for the company that shows them just what they’re looking for? With Magento’s release of 2.2, they’ve rolled out the ability to create custom catalogs that you can then apply to specific customers. By creating the catalog first, you can use the same one for multiple companies without reinventing the wheel for each customer.*

2. Partial Payments and Purchase Orders- For B2B customers, even more than B2C customers, flexible payment options are crucial. B2B customers are often placing large orders with high quantities of product. Customers will expect your website to offer the same amount of flexibility that they’re used to receiving from a salesperson or supplier. Integrating a system (whether an app or extension to your eCommerce platform) that allows for partial payments, will give shoppers the options they’re accustomed to. Look for a tool that gives you some flexibility to send out reminders when the next payment is due as well. Another payment option that B2B customers utilize more than B2C are purchase orders. With Magento 2.2, customers have the ability to enter PO numbers at checkout out of the box.

3. Unique Pricing- If you’re a B2B merchant, chances are you have a lot of customers with a lot of different pricing structures. Some eCommerce platforms, like Magento, have the functionality to accommodate this built into their software. With tiered pricing, you can assign a different set of pricing to each customer group. And with Magento 2.2, they’re taking it a step further to introduce Companies. Within each company you can set up multiple users with different roles and permissions. So if only the Supply Manager for Company X has permission to purchase supplies, only they will be able to add items to cart and checkout.

4. Maintaining Relationships- As a B2B company in an eCommerce space, you have the unique challenge of both making it easy for your customers to order efficiently, and maintaining that client relationship. Oftentimes this relationship is fostered by direct communication with a member of your team that closely monitors the client’s account. Your online customers can and should still benefit from a unique personal interaction that sets your customer service apart. A great way to keep track of account activity, delinquent accounts, or inactive accounts is to implement a CRM software with your eCommerce platform. This will allow your internal team to keep track of client interactions and communications. By integrating the two systems, you’ll know when an account is due for a reorder, and can make that personal touch point proactively.

5. Large Orders of Varying Items- B2C customers aren’t concerned with getting mass quantities of items into their cart and checking out quickly. B2B customers on the other hand, are looking for exactly that user experience. They want the ability to add multiple products, in varying sizes and quantities, without going to several item pages, into the cart, and back again. To address this, Magento 2.2 has introduced quick order functionality that allows customers to directly type in SKU’s for efficiency. To take it a step further, you can also upload a CSV of the SKU’s you need and the quantities needed to order in bulk fast.

By taking the time to give your B2B customers special consideration, you’ll ensure that they enjoy an eCommerce experience tailored for their unique set of needs.

*Available to Magento Enterprise