The Biggest Disruptor for B2B Business in 2022

The Biggest Disruptor for B2B Business in 2022

At HPE Discover in June 2020, former Cisco CEO turned Venture Capitalist John Chambers shared this warning to business leaders around the globe:

 

[su_quote cite=””]“40% to 50% of the Fortune 500 will not exist in a decade, it’s going to be a brutal change. These terrible events we’re now seeing will accelerate that. Probably 60% of the startups won’t exist in a decade and several won’t exist in two to three years. So, it’s a period where you either disrupt or you get disrupted.”[/su_quote]

 

Disrupt, or Get Disrupted.

 

Buyer habits and demographics are changing rapidly, forcing B2B companies to fight tooth and nail for attention. But, how do you disrupt a trillion-dollar industry like pharma or manufacturing?

 

The key is creating a centralized, easy to use interface for buying and selling online. One that easily connects buyers and sellers while collecting valuable customer data. For these reasons, 2021 is quickly becoming the year of the B2B marketplace. So, what are B2B marketplaces and what advantages can they provide you?

 

What is a B2B Marketplace?

 

what is a b2b marketplace buyer portal online digital market

 

In the same way Amazon allows consumers to purchase items from 3rd party vendors on Amazon.com, corporate megaliths like 3M and AB InBev now have online portals that provide better buying experiences for their vendors. In other words, a B2B marketplace is an online store that uses eCommerce functionality to let buyers view different brands and product lines from hundreds of vendors all in one place. Buyers using these B2B marketplaces can easily compare prices and products to ensure they order the products they need at the best price.

 

 

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The industry shift to online marketplaces is not only a result of new software specifically designed to help B2B companies operate more efficiently… Early last year, Bank of America analyst Justin Post said the firm expected Amazon to capture 10% of the addressable B2B market by 2021. Since then, companies around the world from aerospace to construction and more have been launching online marketplaces left and right, hoping to get ahead of the curve. If the alarm bells aren’t ringing yet, they should be, as Amazon’s incredible ability to scale will soon disrupt B2B the same way it dominates retail today.

 

Competition aside, giving your vendors and buyers a “one-stop shop” experience is just good business. And make no mistake, B2B marketplaces give incredible benefits to the businesses that own them. Let’s take a look at two top companies to learn how their marketplaces strengthen their overall strategy.

 

Strategic Advantage: AB InBev’s B2B Portal

ab inbev b2b marketplace portal store digital b2b market

 

In December, global beer distributor AB InBev (owner of top brands like Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois) constructed a one-stop shop B2B marketplace for all the individual vendors of their products. With 98% of AB InBev’s business coming from B2B distribution, providing their sellers a much easier to use and automated way to order stock was extremely important. After generating $6 million GMV in the first month, AB InBev plans to scale this digital platform continuously in 2021 and beyond.

 

Their new B2B vendor portal also allowed them to map the customer journey for all their vendors. With this insightful data in hand, AB InBev is armed with the tools to continue to improve their buyers’ experience. The data also helps them stay ahead of buyer trends as they change with seasonality and other variables. Constantly improving and changing, the marketplace gives AB InBev added adaptability and flexibility with their commerce operations.

 

Strategic Advantage: 3M’s Marketplace

 

3M also launched a new B2B marketplace this year where their channel partners can all sell their products independently on the same platform. They took a different approach; instead of controlling the buyer process, they allow their channel partners to control all the selling and transactions, even with their own offers and pricing. 3M only facilitates the connection between their partner sellers and buyers. 3M simply provides the front end and a premium customer experience.

 

This hands-off approach allows 3M to oversee all of their online product sales without having to micromanage vendors. It also allows them to give their vendor customers a better, more efficient buying process while avoiding channel conflict.

 

Top 5 Features of B2B Marketplaces

brandless b2b marketplace online chemical healthcare portal

 

What are some of the biggest benefits of implementing a B2B marketplace?

  • Providing faster ordering and automatic reordering, custom pricing, minimum order quantities, shipping options, payment options, and other premium digital features to your customers, all without calling a sales rep.
  • Allowing your business and/or individual BUs to scale faster in a rapidly changing digital ecosystem.
  • eCommerce platforms, especially SaaS platforms, are easier to maintain and upgrade as needed, compared to manual and physical supply-chain infrastructure.
  • Digital systems provide employees with much-needed assistance with automation and analytics, enhancing the capabilities of your teams from sales and marketing to accounting, tax, compliance, and more.
  • Making things much easier on their sellers and vendors helps them thrive in this new ecosystem as well, connecting digital systems and speeding up processes for everyone.

With online orders reaching levels previously expected 10 years from now, making the buying process as easy as possible is crucial to ensuring products get to the right places at the right time.

 

For companies with multiple brand names under their umbrella, the need for an online marketplace becomes even more apparent. The more complicated the fulfillment process, with multiple warehouses, distribution centers, and massive amounts of inventory, the more necessary a comprehensive online portal becomes to automate and speed up these processes.

 

Different Types of Marketplaces

walmart b2b marketplace digital online portal marketplace

 

All kinds of companies are building B2B marketplaces to expand their digital capabilities in 2021. Walmart has launched a digital marketplace, shown above, to compete with Amazon. This allows for a much larger selection of brands and sellers to sell on Walmart’s website. Giving Walmart an even larger market share than they already had.

 

honeywell b2b marketplace buyer portal online digital

 

Outside of CPG, a household name in Aerospace manufacturing Honeywell established the Honeywell Marketplace for aerospace parts companies, and in an industry dominated by brand loyalty and trust, it’s almost impossible to get buyers to see your products if you aren’t on Honeywell’s trusted marketplace.

In Healthcare, Fulcrum Digital and Redstage collaborated to create an online buyer and seller marketplace for DMEhub, a seller of durable medical equipment. A more creative use for a B2B marketplace, DMEhub was able to greatly increase the speed and rate at which they could accept orders of important medical equipment while staying 100% HIPAA compliant.

 

The incredible number of uses and benefits of creating marketplaces for connecting buyers and sellers is well documented. To become a digital leader in 2021, innovation and creativity is sorely needed, and we’re finding new ways to use them every day!

 

Let’s Get Started!

Remember, 40% to 50% of the Fortune 500 will not exist in a decade. So, for companies on the list looking to stay there, and for rapidly growing companies looking to make their first appearance on the acclaimed list, the message stays the same:

Disrupt, or be disrupted.

The biggest disrupter for these businesses is going to be major marketplaces increasing customer’s ease of access to multiple vendors and confidence they’re making the right decisions. It’s time for you to provide the same value as Amazon, if not more.


Not sure where to start?

Redstage is offering completely free eCommerce and business analysis to the first 5 merchants who schedule one. Schedule your free website usability assessment here and find out where you stand compared to others in the same space. Check out our Top 5 B2B eCommerce Features customers are requiring from merchants here.

Want to learn more about marketplaces and other B2B trends? Check out our webinar on the biggest eCommerce trends we saw during the last year with our CEO here

The Ultimate eCommerce Platform Comparison Guide

The Ultimate eCommerce Platform Comparison Guide

Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform

[ DOWNLOAD COMPARISON CHART .PDF ]

Whether you’re launching your company’s first direct-to-consumer brand or you’re an established player in the eCommerce space seeking new software to scale up, the most important decision you’ll make is choosing the right eCommerce platform.

…But which one should you pick?

Every platform has different bells and whistles, each with different facets and features. Some require customization while others need apps and integrations to get the job done. Some have low up-front costs, but if you’re not careful, total cost of ownership can increase quickly. In a world where eCommerce capabilities determine the future of top brands in retail and manufacturing alike, we aim to make the process as simple as buying a new car online.

 

Making An Informed Decision

Our certified eCommerce and platform experts can help with your platform selection process

Buying a new car requires certain considerations. For instance, how much will your family (your business) grow in a few years? How important are fuel economy and maintenance (operational costs) to you? Are you more interested in style (design) or comfort (functionality)? In the old days, you might bring your dad to the dealership for an expert opinion and ensure you’re getting the best price. When it comes to choosing eCommerce software, we bring in certified platform consultants with prior experience in your industry to do the same. Here’s how it works…

 

Our Platform Selection Process

In our formal platform selection process, we evaluate a variety of feature/function criteria relative to four key areas: Initial implementation cost, total cost of ownership, feature fit, and fitment for future state (thinking 3 to 4 years ahead). The outcome of our analysis ensures the eCommerce platform we recommend will be a perfect fit for your business (now and in the future), so you can scale confidently and quickly.

To simplify your big decision, we call to quorum our platform assessment team. This unit is comprised of business analysts, engineers, and industry subject matter experts. We’ll convene with you and your project stakeholders for requirements gathering. It’s important we understand the goals and ambitions of all parties and business units involved. Next, we segment the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. Then we’ll analyze your current state vs. future state.

Once the initial assessment is complete our team examines your potential platform’s “fit” across five categories. To help you understand each area’s importance, we compiled tips from our certified platform consultants below.

Jump to Section:

 

1. The State of Your Tech Stack

Picking the perfect eCommerce platform has a lot to do with your current tech stack.

The state of your current tech stack plays a valuable role in the platform selection process. ERPs, CRMs, loyalty & rewards software, and additional legacy systems can require complex integrations that can extend your project timeline.

The digital maturity of your business is also an important factor. If you feel your business can be automating more manual work with software, new eCommerce platforms provide the perfect opportunity to review which operations can be optimized.

 

Assessing Your Digital Maturity

“A customer’s unique tech stack is most often built over a period of years, expanding or contracting as internal practices evolve. Keep this in mind when considering a re-platforming project, regardless of the technology you’re swapping. View this experience as an opportunity to evaluate business processes, streamline workflows, clean data, and automate where possible.” 
–Aidan McKnight, Solution Engineer

 

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Every Platform Has An Ecosystem

“Magento, BigCommerce, Salesforce, and Shopify Plus all have robust offerings. Buying into any of these ecosystems of apps and add-on technologies can make the integration between different tools much smoother, while potentially making each tool more powerful.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

Built-In Features

“If your biggest concern is simplifying your tech stack —meaning reducing the amount of 3rd party vendors you have to deal with— we typically recommend Salesforce Commerce Cloud. The platform has many capabilities within its licensing, such as search, personalization, and A/B testing, which can reduce total cost of ownership. It also integrates easily with Salesforce’s suite of marketing tools, allowing users deep insight into their customers.” 
–Pat Johns, Account Executive

Pre-Built Integrations

“Certain platforms have native or pre-built integrations with external systems. BigCommerce, for example, comes with baked-in integrations with ShipperHQ and AvaTax, making the process simple and reducing the project timeline.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

 

Redundant Features

“One of the things we look at is how much of a company’s operations are going to be handled by features within the eCom platform itself vs. Using a best in class solution for each task. For example, are we going to manage products in an eCommerce platform, or is the company already using a PIM? Are orders going to be managed by the platform or is the company going to use an ERP that has already been set up for that purpose? If you already have a platform for another task, workflows already being handled by another platform don’t need to be considered. The capabilities you already have might not need to be present in the new platform you’re picking.” 
– Oliver Sosinsky, Sr. Solution Engineer

 

Hosting Environments

“For certain cases when additional data needs to be stored or processed, Magento 2 may provide the ‘smallest’ tech stack since extensions can have their data stored on the Magento hosting environment. On the other hand, SaaS platforms require 3rd party hosting. Any apps you build will need to connect to the 3rd party, creating an additional component for you to maintain.” 
–Ben Shapiro, Solution Engineer

Managing Complexity & Costs

“The larger or more complex the internal tech stack is, the higher the implementation cost will most likely be. Especially if the goal is a fully integrated eCommerce system. This also affects total cost of ownership, building in integration layers to traffic data is another ongoing cost for maintenance and/or licensing. Often, complexity and cost of the internal tech stack can be reduced when systems are integrated and redundant platforms can be combined or eliminated.” 
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

 

Legacy Systems

“Having systems built on outdated or proprietary technology that you need to integrate with newer applications or APIs can be complicated, and cause a loss in business continuity if these systems fail. It can also slow the implementation of your eCommerce initiative. If you know you won’t be updating your underlying legacy systems soon, consider a more customizable platform for building your integrations. As an open source platform, Magento has a significant community of developers and a platform that offers a wide selection of out-of-the-box web APIs that support Accounting, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Product Information Management (PIM), and marketing automation systems.”
–Maria Pichardo, Business Analyst

 

ERP Migrations

“I rarely recommend tying an eCommerce platform transformation project together with an ERP transformation project. The inevitable critical dependencies can intertwine into a cocktail of delays. It is much safer to assume that you will need to be able to integrate with both at least for some time. It’s likely you’ll have less headaches if you assume your new system has to integrate with the old system, and at the same time you’re building the new system. Don’t tie them together in a way that the new system has to fit with the new one. It might seem like it’s more costly to integrate with the old system and then integrate with the new system, but when you consider the time and costs, it’s cheaper to go with the two-system approach.” 
–Adam Morris, CEO

 

All in all, the state of your tech stack largely determines the scale of the work needed (in terms of time and cost) for your eCommerce transformation project. The more software you want to integrate or consolidate, the more focused your platform options will become. Swapping out or adding an ERP will need special consideration, as will websites that rely heavily on 3rd party technology.

 

2. Catalog Complexity

Catalog complexity is how the eCommerce platform uses your product data.

Catalog complexity is how the platform uses your product data. Think of machine parts distributors with millions of product SKUs whose customers need exact specifications for the parts they order. Bigger businesses like automotive manufacturers need advanced search features for handling product specifications like filtering, attributes, and category structures, because they generally have more complex databases.

The speed at which a customer can search, find, and buy a product on your site is critical for driving sales and encouraging repeat purchases. How you want to manage all of this data –and the digital customer journeys you want it to facilitate– are pivotal to determining the platform you need. Here’s a few more reasons why your product catalog determines the best eCommerce platform for you.

Meeting Modern Buyer Expectations

“Today’s B2B buyers, especially millennials are looking to do product research fully online, so they need as much detail as the company has on exact specifications fo the product without talking to a sales person. I think this is one of the main challenges B2B companies have because they don’t have all of that detail in an eCommerce or digital-friendly format. Breaking it out into attributes is a large chunk of the work if you’ve never done that before. This is where a system like a PIM may help you, because it can focus on the process of enriching that data to get it eCommerce-ready. Though adding another full-featured system to the tech stack also adds complexity.”
–Adam Morris, CEO

How Do You Use Your Product Data? How Would You Like To?

“The three main types of eCommerce data are product, customer, and order data, with different ways to manage each. When the Redstage team assists a client with platform selection, we look at how they want to manage each of these data segments. Every business has a specific concept and specific business goals that may conflict with the capabilities of different platforms. Understanding these three major areas of data and how you want to match them up with the business rules you configure can determine the platform you need.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

 

Product Types and Attributes

“Magento 2 and Salesforce Commerce Cloud are likely the two favorites for product management, each with a deep level of flexibility in creating product types. I would say BigCommerce is a very close contender, while Shopify has some drawbacks when managing a catalog with many attributes and variants.” 
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

Custom Fields

“Each platform deals with custom [data] fields and options in different ways. BigCommerce, for example, is an easy-to-use and manage platform but limits its custom fields to 250 characters and limits the number of custom fields per product to 200 [at the time of this writing]. Let’s say you have product descriptions for thousands of products, and many of them are over this limit. You would either need to take time to alter all of this data to make it fit the constraints, or look for a bolt-on solution that would allow you to exceed the data limit. Both can pose hurdles regarding timeline for your project.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

Non-Text Data

“If you have a product that has non-text information like PDFs or CAD files, you should evaluate whether the platform can handle this level of product information out-of-the-box, or if it will require customizations. ” 
–Aidan McKnight, Solution Engineer

 

Category Structure

“If you have a large catalog with category/subcategory structure, BigCommerce, Salesforce CC and Magento 2 all include these features out-of-the-box. Shopify requires extra work to accomplish this, but can be powerful with enough customization.” 
–Ben Shapiro, Solution Engineer

 

Advanced Search Features

advanced search features can dramatically increase your eCommerce platform's conversion rate

“Shoppers who interact with on-site search are 216% more likely to convert. How easy is it for your customers to find the product they need on your site? We consider catalog complexity to ensure the platform you choose will easily mesh with the product data you have. This allows us to create optimal buying experiences for your customers including advanced on-site search.” 
–Don Pingaro, Marketing Manager

 

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Product Structures

“Depending on the products you sell, the product structure can be complex at times. Your items can come in different sizes and colors. You can be selling products as a bundle (kits/assemblies). Maybe you need to have dynamic options for products with variable attribute structures in the same catalog. We need to consider that before choosing the platform that best fits your requirements. It must be one that will allow you to expand your business without having to clean up or reorganize your catalog when a new structure comes up.” 
–Maria Pichardo, Business Analyst

 

Bundled Products & Pre-Ordering

“A complex product catalog can also include bundled products, grouped products or kits, back order products (do you keep selling beyond stock being depleted?), or products available for pre-order. Some platforms have these features baked-in or have it in their app ecosystem.”
–Aidan McKnight, Solution Engineer

SaaS Restrictions

“Some companies may be restricted from using SaaS platforms if they have certain pieces of technology that need to live on the same server as their eCommerce applications (including sensitive patient information for medical supply companies). While it is possible to build custom middleware, this can add to costs and make a simple solution more complex.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

Data Security

“Who’s responsible for the data security? A SaaS platform is responsible to keep your data safe to a higher extent than a platform like Magento where you have more accountability for your customer data. The key considerations for how customers manage data include personally identifiable information, financial information, or eCommerce store data.”
–Adam Morris, CEO

 

Data Analytics

“Data management is an essential part of your eCommerce platform, and it helps improve your eCommerce Growth. If your company has substantial analytics needs, having dedicated staff and resources can be costly. Your eCommerce platform must provide the data you need to understand how you are doing and identify future opportunities. Leveraging your data analytics can pull you ahead of your competitors.” 
–Maria Pichardo, Business Analyst

 

Different eCommerce platforms enable different buying experiences. Some are designed for high SKU counts, while others are not. How your product catalog matches up with the capabilities of the platform you choose will not only determine the ease-of-use for your customers, it will determine the customization needed to enable better buying experiences… directly impacting project cost and timeline.

 

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3. Ease of Use

If ease of use is a priority for you, we recommend looking into the below areas to ensure the eCommerce platform you pick is the right fit.

Your team’s ability to manage your online store is just as important as your customer’s ability to navigate it. Different eCom platforms have different backends, and the more complex your operation, the more complex your admin panel will likely be. If ease of use is a priority for you, we recommend looking into the below areas to ensure the platform you pick is the right fit.

 

Admin and Merchant Panels

“Merchants want to set up their stores, add products, and manage their site’s look without the need to be technical. They want intuitiveness, simplicity, flexibility, and independence, so they can focus their energy on growing their business. All these have to be considered when choosing your eCommerce platform.”
–Maria Pichardo, Business Analyst

 

Can You Find What You’re Looking For?

“A platform that is easy to use saves your team time in daily administrative tasks, or augments your sales team’s ability to make sales. One key area to evaluate for ease of use is the system admin. Can you find what you’re looking for, from orders and fulfillment to the customer account section? Additional areas to consider, even if you plan on using an external system, would be the email section, the WYSIWYG editor, and content or landing pages.” 
–Aidan McKnight, Solution Engineer

 

Automatic Upgrades & Security Patches

“SaaS platforms handle the hosting, security patching, and platform upgrades automatically, and they typically guarantee high uptime. This helps reduce the amount of stress when managing a store but it does limit the amount of customization that you can do to the platform (as opposed to an Open Source platform).” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

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Go-Live Speed

“In many cases, speed and agility to go live with a sellable catalog online is key. Doing so without a highly technical team can sometimes be a challenge. Shopify’s platform offers a solution with an easy to use backend, tools, and ecosystem to quickly build a site with all of the necessary technical features and a user experience that today’s online shoppers expect.” 
–Ben Shapiro, Solution Engineer

Content & Landing Pages

“For our clients, ease-of-use is especially important for creating and modifying content and landing pages. Clients do not want to call a developer to change a hero banner or do simple administrative tasks. The same goes for merchandising and promotions. BigCommerce and Shopify do a great job with content and landing pages right out of the box. I could see a merchant with little or no expereince figuring it out after a few minutes of checking around. It’s very intuitive. While Magento 2 and Salesforce have very similar features, diving in blind may “feel” a little difficult. If you need the horsepower of Magento 2 or Salesforce, set some time aside for training.” 
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

Easy Front-End Management

“Not all merchants have an internal web development team. All the eCommerce platforms Redstage works with today offer content-building tools which allow merchandisers and marketers to visually create content and landing pages without the need for coding. Most merchants will not need a separate enterprise CMS platform for managing content unless they are working with a lot of dynamic, data-driven content, or managing a very large content library.” 
–Oliver Sosinsky, Sr. Solution Engineer

 

Automating Sales Ops

“A digital product catalog gives a customer the ability to select an item, submit a quote, create a requirements form, and replace the face-to-face conversation with a sales rep. This helps get an order out the door in two-clicks for the sales rep, rather than sending 2 to 3 forms back and forth. If a specific customer gets 5% off, reps can say “the new price is approved and the items are in your cart” in seconds. It’s exponentially faster.”  
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

 

For Redstage clients, security and content are always top of mind. Both have a big impact on ease-of-use and performance. Installing security patches on a non-SaaS platform can be a hurdle, so some clients prefer BigCommerce, Salesforce and Shopify Plus which have automatic updates. While Magento requires manual security updates, those who use the platform understand its powerful features often outweigh this drawback. In the next section, we’ll delve into the debate between off-the-shelf features and customization to help you plan your migration.

 

4. Customization vs. Out-Of-The-Box

We recommend comparing the out-of-the-box features of each eCommerce platform to keep costs down.

Every eCommerce platform has apps and extensions you can use to enhance your online store. These allow you to add features like AI-assisted search, A/B testing, rewards, and more. Each platform also has different API endpoints that afford you different capabilities (like single sign-on), though not all endpoints are fully customizable. With all these considerations, things can get confusing quickly.

To streamline your decision-making process, we recommend comparing the out-of-the-box features of each eCommerce platform to keep costs down. Once you’ve narrowed your list to the platforms with the best feature-fit, it becomes easier to decide what customizations or apps you’ll need. Download our platform comparison chart here for a side-by-side look at platform features.

 

Consider Before Customizing

“How unique is the feature you are trying to customize? Before customizing a feature, it is worth exploring the options that off-the-shelf features give you as well as the existing solutions in the platform ecosystem. Customizations are great, but if you don’t handle them properly can be costly, time-consuming, and hard to maintain or replicate when re-platforming.” 
–Maria Pichardo, Business Analyst

 

Find Feature Fit First

“Prioritizing feature-fit with a platform’s out-of-the-box feature set can help keep costs down. But remember, if you’re building fully customizable modules outside of the system, you could be losing the benefit of all those apps.” 
–Adam Morris, CEO

 

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Use this interactive checklist to pinpoint the features you need in your eCommerce platform and compare across Magento, Salesforce, BigCommerce, and Shopify.

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O-O-T-B = Lower Implementation Costs

“Sticking to off-the-shelf or “out-of-the-box” features always leads to less implementation time and lower total cost of ownership. The key here is making sure the platform can accomplish your requirements. While Magento 2 can normally handle most things out-of-the-box, it’s possible there could be a TCO or implementation use case that leads us to use a SaaS option. That said, when deep custom work is required, the scaled can shift quite dramatically and favor the flexibility of Magento 2. This can lead to less project complexity by leveraging a more flexible system.” 
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

Multi-Store Capabilities

“For multi-store websites, Magento 2 or BigCommerce may make the most sense. Although, it’s important to ask why you may want multiple stores. If each store has the same core technology that it needs to integrate with and has the same business goals, then a single Magento instance may be preferable. Otherwise, forcing multiple business units to use the same instance can cause many headaches and unneeded complications.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

 

Checkout Customization

“Check-out customizations are very limited or almost non-existent in some SaaS platforms as this requires permission from the platform provider, which is rarely given. If you need a highly customized checkout experience with features that are not handled by a tech partner –like BOLD for example– you are probably better off going with Magento. In our Mobile Optimization Initiative, we relied on Magento’s fully customizable checkout to create fast checkout experiences that earned merchants more money from existing customers.” 
–Ben Shapiro, Solution Engineer

Future Proofing

“Another benefit to using a native feature over a 3rd party plugin is that you can rely on the platform to maintain that feature as the platform evolves. 3rd party modules often require their own maintenance when a platform is upgraded, increasing ongoing development costs.” 
– Oliver Sosinsky, Sr. Solution Engineer

Additional Software Adds Complexity

“Customization or 3rd party software will increase the load on your website. Before making changes, consider the implications, and evaluate out of the box features. Third party or aftermarket software is developed in a silo and does not consider the interaction between other pieces of software you have installed on your website. As a rule of thumb, look first to the platform for OOTB features before going to customizations. Go to customizations second.” 
–Aidan McKnight, Solution Engineer

 

To recap, picking your platform based on built in features typically lowers implementation cost and minimizes the risks of adding 3rd party software to fill feature gaps. Multi-Store is a special consideration as the feature is not built into all the platforms on our list, and can be tough to implement on Shopify Plus or Salesforce CC. Use this checklist to find feature-fit before narrowing your platform selection further.

 

5. B2B-Specific Features

If you need B2B features for your eCommerce operation, you can easily narrow down your eCommerce platform options.

How might the need for B2B features impact your platform selection? From the initial stages of a consulting engagement, we work closely with businesses to ensure platform fit. No one knows this better than the account executives and solution engineers at Redstage.

 

Align Process and Feature Needs

“The biggest thing our clients ask for are features that line up with current business processes. From a B2B perspective it’s a pretty clear-cut category for feature fit. Tiered pricing, custom pricing, and company management are pretty big differentiators between platforms. If B2B features are important, you can identify right off the bat which platforms are going to fit your needs criteria better. However, it comes down to your business and your priorities. Our solution team recommends you set a weight to each of your goals and feature priorities to narrow your platform options. We prioritize out of the box B2B features, and Magento really shines in this area, while other have B2B suites available from 3rd parties.” 
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

 

Meeting The Complex Requirements of B2B Buyers

“It’s important to look at not just what your company needs, but how your customers clients will be using the site. Modern B2B eCommerce functionality needs to meet the complex requirements of the B2B world while keeping it as simple as possible to foster an intuitive and stress-free shopping experience.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

 

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B2B Lead Generation

“A lot of B2B businesses need the flexibility to manage products which can not be fully defined, or which require customer interaction in order to complete the order. Industrial machinery for example is usually built to order, and requires some personal interaction with a customer before an order can be finalized. Magento gives us the flexibility to build non-traditional checkout funnels where we are capturing leads, rather than making sales, so the manufacturer’s sales team can take the process forward.” 
–Oliver Sosinsky, Sr. Solution Engineer

On-Premise vs. Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) Platforms

“Depending on the B2B features required by the client, the top picks usually end up being Magento 2 vs. BigCommerce or Magento 2 vs. Salesforce. This really comes down to feature-fit. When identifying B2B needs we can usually assume ‘it will work in Magento’ but that route could lead to higher TCO. Vetting for feature fit and understanding how the platform functionally aligns with business needs can bring a SaaS platform to the table as well.” 
–Matt Brennan, Account Executive

 

Enhancing Existing Capabilities 

“For key B2B features, Magento and Salesforce can be clear choices, though BigCommerce also has the Bundle B2B feature set you can add-on. If your business is a ‘Salesforce org’ and you’re already heavily invested in their technology for one reason or another, Salesforce Commerce Cloud is the easy choice.” 
–Aidan McKnight, Solution Engineer

Bolt-On Options

“For clients considering BigCommerce, we usually recommend BundleB2B to bolster the store’s capabilities. This adds a wealth of useful features, including sales rep attribution, the ability for customers to pay via purchase-orders, assigning different buyer roles with different buying permissions, shared company address books, and a quick order tool, among many others.” 
–Dave Gardner, Practice Manager, Business Analysis

Various considerations must be made and resolved when switching to a new platform. Some eCommerce platforms shine in areas where others don’t (like B2B features, flexibility, or larger app ecosystems) and it’s important to note how the differences can help or harm your business. The final step is to then tie these threads back to project goals, timeline, and budget.

 

 

B2B Vertical Analysis

2020’s Biggest Threat to B2B Companies

Gain insights into key B2B industry verticals from manufacturing to aerospace, CPG, and more to discover how your competitors are investing in digital.

View Report

The Ultimate Platform Comparison Guide

get your ultimate eCommerce platform comparison guide

If you’re happily driving a 1980’s hatchback, you might not be thinking about the brand-new vehicle options out there. At the same time, someone who’s buying a Ford F-150 has different needs than someone who’s buying a Porsche – and the Porsche buyers probably aren’t worried about maintenance costs…

Regarding eCommerce platform selection, it all comes down to four things: Initial implementation cost, total cost of ownership, fitment for future state, and feature fit. Identifying the platform with the most built-in features on your wish-list can be challenging, so we’ve done our best to make it easy for you.

Download our Enterprise eCommerce Platform Comparison Guide here for the most comprehensive side-by-side view of platform features you’ll find anywhere. If you’re interested in having a formal platform analysis conducted by the Redstage team, contact us today! We’re happy to guide you to the next stage of your eCommerce journey.

 

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8 B2B eCommerce Resources You Need To Bookmark Now

8 B2B eCommerce Resources You Need To Bookmark Now

[su_quote cite=”Jeff Bezos, Amazon”]“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”[/su_quote]

eCommerce juggernaut Jeff Bezos knows the importance of the customer experience better than anyone. How does Amazon continue to innovate in this area year over year and lead the pack? For one thing, Amazon acts quickly to move on to new trends in buyer habits. For B2B eCommerce companies, being late to the party means losing authority and customers to competitors.

 

The most pressing questions we get from clients and partners are: How can B2B companies differentiate themselves from the competition? How do these companies attract and retain customers? What trends in the industry should we be aware of and take advantage of? If you share these concerns, look no further!

From eCommerce features that make revenue explode to areas B2Bs are investing for the year ahead, we’ve compiled our top tips and insights from 2020 in our latest B2B Round-Up! Take a look.

 

5 Must-Have B2B eCommerce Features of 2020

 

must have b2b eCommerce features

 

“According to TrustRadius, 45% of the B2B buyer demographic is 25-34 years old. This makes them the single largest demographic of B2B buyers today. But what does this mean for you, the B2B seller?

As buyers grow more accustomed to better customer experiences provided by top eCommerce platforms, there’s a growing number of features this new generation of B2B buyers has come to demand from their suppliers. In order to grow your sales pipeline, retain, and attract these buyers you should seriously consider these 5 must-have B2B eCommerce features.” — Read More Here

 

10 On-Site Search Practices to Boost Your B2B eCommerce Business

 

 

“As far back as 2014, 60% of B2B buyers said an on-site search was one of their top three features, with a further 48% of B2B sellers citing enhanced search as a top technology priority. Shoppers who interact with on-site search are typically 216% more likely to convert and generate up to 14% of all revenue. Make sure you’re paying close attention to the way your B2B operation caters to this profitable segment.

This guide will walk you through 10 ways enhanced on-site search can be used to help B2B retailers earn outstanding ROI.” — Get The Full Guide Here

 

7 Ways B2Bs are Investing In Digital During the COVID-19 Crisis

 

 

“While stock market experts work to price in risk, today’s largest retailers, wholesalers, and distributors are doing the same. What are the risks of doing nothing while we ride out the COVID-19 storm? Where and how can enterprise companies re-focus their efforts to guarantee growth once this is all over?

From remote-teams to supply chain automation and even augmented reality, the value of digital enablement has never been more apparent. In fact, only 12% of B2B companies are taking a “wait-and-see” approach to eCommerce as COVID-19 plays out. Here’s what the other 88% are doing today to ensure success down the line…” — View This Report Online Here

 

How to Stay Competitive in the Shifting B2B eCommerce Landscape

 

how to stay competitive in the shifting b2b eCommerce landscape

 

“B2B eCommerce sales are growing 7X faster than any other electronic channel. Yet, only 73% of B2B sellers sell through eCommerce or online marketplace portals today…

What does this all mean? It means there’s still some room for companies to begin their digital transformation, adopt eCommerce, or build industry-specific online marketplaces… B2B’s digital leaders in eCommerce are vastly outperforming their competitors. Digital B2B leaders who adopted online buying opportunities have reported up to 5x revenue growth, 8x operating profit growth, and up to double their return on shareholder growth.” — Find Out More Here

 

3 eCommerce Technologies B2B Sellers Need

 

3 b2b technologies sellers need

 

“In 2019, customers became bolder with their demands and expectations. You may have learned how to satisfy them with evergreen content, site optimization, and fraud protection. However, as 2020 picks up, merchants need to stay one step ahead of the competition by studying trends and going beyond customer expectations.

These 3 new eCommerce technologies help B2B companies boost sales and improve shopping experiences…” — Learn more about all 3 technologies here.

 

2020 B2B Industry Trends: Marketplace, Customer, and Business IT Insights

 

2020 b2b trends webinar

 

In a webinar hosted by CEO Adam Morris, he helps B2B Digital Leaders determine the new buyer personas they must tend to in the shifting B2B eCommerce market. Also, he demonstrates the newest trends threatening to disrupt B2B companies in 2020 and beyond.

Learn more about how to tend to millennial buyers, how B2B marketplaces are taking over, and insights from real merchants on centralizing and decentralizing data. This webinar is a can’t miss opportunity for growth. — Watch this Insightful Webinar Here

 

2020’s Biggest Threat to B2B Companies

 

 

“In manufacturing and distribution, digital is no longer a nice-to-have, but an absolute necessity to stay competitive. In a digitally optimized organization, front-end customer experiences can connect seamlessly with back-office operations. This produces an extremely fast and efficient business environment that customers prefer. A ‘wait and see’ approach is no longer a viable option. It’s an invitation to customers to abandon ship, and an invitation for the competition to outpace you.”

With insights into the biggest B2B verticals from experts with real-life experience, learn more about how doing nothing to enhance your digital capabilities during the Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest threat to B2B companies in 2020. — View the Report Here.

 

39 Genius Ways Manufacturers and Distributors Can Supercharge Their 2020 Pipeline

 

digital sales enablement guide eCommerce b2b

 

In this huge and in-depth sales guide, we’ve outlined 39 easy and genius ways B2B companies can enable their sales teams with digital back-end processes that better serve their customers and make their sales teams’ job much easier.

“A report published by Forrester in 2015 titled “Death of A (B2B) Salesman” justifies its title with a few key statistics. Forrester’s data illustrates a growing trend wherein 59% of B2B buyers prefer to research potential suppliers online, rather than talk directly to a sales rep. Most buyers prefer not to interact with sales reps because they believe salespeople focus primarily on the sale itself (and the commission), rather than providing value and a solution to problems customers face.” Learn how you can use automation and data to supercharge your sales pipelines in 2020. —Get the Full Guide Here.

 

Final thoughts

 

Throughout 2020 and beyond, Redstage is helping B2B companies become digital leaders in their industries. How? With automation, optimization, customization, and elite B2B eCommerce feature sets. If you’re not matching up to new standards, and not looking for the next big trend to elevate your eCommerce initiatives, you’re already behind on the times.

 

Here’s the fastest way to get your own eCommerce channel up and running: Redstage’s B2B Accelerator

2800+ Magento 1 merchants were left open to a massive cyber-attack in September that compromised the data of thousands of customers. If B2B merchant’s biggest drawback for migrating off Magento 1, or simply getting onto Magento 2, is time and cost, then let Redstage help. Read more here about the robust feature set included in our B2B Accelerator Suite, as well as look at the responsive and optimized theme. Contact us today to get started now.

 


 

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5 Must-Have B2B eCommerce Features for 2021

5 Must-Have B2B eCommerce Features for 2021

In the past few years, B2B companies across industries have been adopting eCommerce as the main channel for selling products. B2B eCommerce alone accounts for $1 Trillion in sales today and continues to grow. According to TrustRadius, 45% of the B2B buyer demographic is 25-34 years old, making them the single largest demographic of B2B buyers today. But what does this mean for you, the B2B seller?

As buyers grow more accustomed to better customer experiences provided by top eCommerce platforms, there a growing number of features this new generation of buyers has come to demand from their suppliers. In order to grow your sales pipeline, retain, and attract these buyers you should seriously consider these 5 must-have B2B eCommerce features.

 

B2B eCommerce Features Your Store Needs

 

1. Advanced Site Search

 

site search

 

Advanced on-site search is crucial for making sure your customers can find exactly the products they need quickly and easily. Typically, B2B products have a lot of specific parameters, (weight, length, height, size, shape, etc.), make searches easy by allowing customers to search by these parameters or SKU numbers.

“We’ve seen the conversion rate of users who search be 6-8x that of visitors that don’t use search,” says Redstage CEO Adam Morris. “Utilizing search shows intent and having a powerful search is crucial to capturing high converting customers. If a user can’t find the exact product they’re looking for due to slow, out-of-the-box, and not customized for market searches, you will lose the sale.”

A powerful advanced on-site search can make all the difference. Smart search features reduce the likelihood of expensive returns, refunds, and abandoned carts. In Klevu’s new report, they found that shoppers who interact with on-site search are 216% more likely to convert. This group also accounts for 14% of all revenue. For these reasons, it’s critical to provide the best search experience possible. Don’t let a sub-part search experience keep you from unlocking guaranteed sales. See the rest of the report here.

 

 

“We’ve seen the conversion rate of users who search be 6-8x that of visitors that don’t use search” – Redstage CEO Adam Morris

 

 

2. Custom Product Filters

 

product filters

 

Giving your customers the ability to filter by different product parameters allows them to quickly find what they’re looking for on the category page. Custom product filters allow merchants to display more information about a product’s qualities or attributes and allow customers to more easily refine product searches.

AI-driven dynamic filters on your category pages can automatically display the most relevant attributes to customers, making the buying process even easier. Adding images in product filters can make the process even faster and remove another chunk of friction from the process.

One of our Redstage’s platform expert Solution Engineers, Aidan McKnight, had this to say, “If evaluating an eCommerce system, consider what options are available for custom product filters. Does the platform natively support this? Does the native search work well with custom filters? Are there third-party options available? Choose a system that meets your unique requirements or that can be built-to-suit if required.”

These can make all the difference between your customers finding the exact product they need or abandoning your site for a competitor.

 

3. Customer Segmentation Groups and Profiles

 

b2b customer profile

 

Segmenting different buyers into customer groups allows you to create profiles for certain kinds of buyers. This allows you to ensure different customers get the right pricing, see the products most relevant to them. It also enables you to utilize upselling and recommendations to increase average order value (AOV). Keeping your customer groups in mind when setting up site search and custom filters is key to helping the right customers see the right filters and results.

Using segmentation, separate customers into categories by company size, company needs, and industry. This can help you provide another layer of personalization and more value to different kinds of customers. A report done by Econsultancy and IBM Watson Marketing showed that customer segmentation is a top priority to 72% of executives in B2B marketing and eCommerce. If you are not part of that figure, it’s likely your competitors are.

“Successful B2B eCommerce includes considering customers individually and as groups.” says McKnight. “Consider setting aside time to evaluate your current Customer Group/Segmentation strategy and review the data of both customer groups and individual customers. Segmenting your customers is an opportunity to drive additional revenue through your eCommerce platform and provide your marketing team with valuable insight into customer behavior.”

 

4. Advanced Shipping Options

 

advanced shipping options

 

Some B2B buyers want fast shipping, even if it’s not cheap. At the same time, others want shipping to be as cost-effective as possible, no matter how long it may take. Keeping customer groups in mind, B2B sellers must provide advanced shipping options for all their buyers and serve their individual needs. Many B2B companies have complex shipping needs, like delivery to multiple locations or drop-shipping from different warehouses to keep inventory down.

Utilizing fulfillment software, such as ShipperHQ, can increase productivity and decrease headaches. The right shipping software can help build a shipping strategy that aligns with your business goals and these customer demands. Provide automatic checkout that considers what they’re ordering, how frequently, and how much volume every time to increase reorder rates. And provide order tracking and tailored shipping rates to customers with discounts and other arrangements automatically, all within one system.

 

5. Product Information Management software

product information management

 

Due to complex product catalogs and new buyer habits, it can be difficult for online merchants to keep product information updated and consistent across multiple selling channels or sites. Think about how complex information gets across Amazon listings, Walmart, local retailers, and DTC channels. A product information management solution (PIM) can help. These solutions provide a single dashboard to collect, manage, and enrich your product information. 

PIMs save you money by lowering product enrichment costs up to 5 times. They can also reduce returns by as much as 40%, and increase conversion rate by more than 400%, according to Akeneo. Imagine what you could do by empowering your team with a PIM, allowing them to update or change product info in one place and automatically update it wherever it appears on the web? The ability to update product attributes on the fly will only strengthen the power of custom filters and your advanced search. Altogether, these features can pack a punch and give you a serious edge over the competition.

 

Why You Need To Implement Now

 

B2B distributor The Binding Source saw huge gains after optimizing their B2B buying experience with the features mentioned above. They implemented strong custom product filters on their category pages, integrated ShipperHQ for advanced shipping options and optimizing fulfillment, and built customer profiles and groups to segment buyers for custom pricing and product rules. The result? Within 1 month of launching these new features, The Binding Source conversion rate skyrocket 170% and saw transactions grow 33%!

These B2B features aren’t simply “nice to have,” they’re must-haves. The stats speak for themselves. If your B2B eCommerce site doesn’t have all the features the new generation of buyers are expecting, they’ll find a competitor of yours that does. Contact Redstage to implement one or more of these features today!

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