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5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your B2B E-Commerce Platform

b2b_choicesWhether your product is bottles of lemonade or festive bikinis for the summer; if you’re new to B2B e-commerce, it’s important to have a plan when selecting the best platform for your business.

The explosion of online shopping popularity projects ecommerce transactions to out-pace in-store sales in the next few years. Nielsen confirms this with research and offers up some of the browse to buy rates for goods & services. Recent trends show B2B customers seeking more of the e-commerce experience as opposed to shopping offline. So who exactly are these customers?

B2B ecommerce has several types of customers, each with their individual requirements for how they define their success. These customer types include B2B consumers (the company plans to resell the product or service to them). Other customer types include wholesalers/distributors who will sell your products and services to other B2B companies and dealers who sometimes resell the company’s product for them.

Knowing your customers, here’s a few things to consider when selecting the best e-commerce platform for your online store.

1. What are your company’s objectives for your B2B e-commerce store?

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your B2B E-Commerce Platform

  • It is important to know what you want to achieve when you’re building an e-commerce store. Choosing the platform with the best deployment method for your store will ensure your business needs and your brand objectives are supported.

2. Is the platform best for B2B e-commerce?

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your B2B E-Commerce Platform

  • The platform you choose should have documented successful experience meeting the demands of e-commerce online stores. Conduct your own research to see what similar online stores are using and if the platforms of their choice have sufficient experience to meet the demands of an e- commerce store such as a high traffic volume, search engine optimization and mobile friendliness. B2B stores operate best on an open source platform such as Magento. The demands of an online B2B store are much greater than that of a B2C. Magento software caters to this need with such benefits as bulk order management and inventory tracking across multiple warehouse locations.

3. Is the platform customizable?

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your B2B E-Commerce Platform

  • For companies like Zoetis, it was important to have an online B2B store that provides a B2C experience for their customers. Catering to the needs of veterinary professionals in over 50 countries 24/7, they needed an e-commerce platform that provided world class customer experience, met the needs of their complex business rules, featured promotions and included 40+ database feeds. The best option for them was to use the Magento Enterprise Edition to implement their online store.

4. Can you integrate any existing software into your new platform?

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your B2B E-Commerce Platform

  • Integration is very important to the success of your online store. Large businesses that are typical users of B2B e-commerce platforms understand that integration of pre-existing software such as your CRM to your back office is critical. Building an IT environment that improves company efficiency is vitally important; if your existing software does not integrate with the new e-commerce platform it will negatively impact your overall result.

5. Does the platform provide the best user experience for your customers?

5 Things to Consider When Selecting Your B2B E-Commerce Platform

  • Today’s customers expect and demand a user experience that is second to none when they visit e-commerce stores. The platform chosen for your store should provide streamlined features like one click purchasing for both software and professional training, providing an easier buyer experience. Staying up to date on how buyers utilize the internet in non B2B environments will enhance your store’s B2B experience. According to Magento, “93 percent of business-to-business buyers prefer to purchase online, with self-serve information, direct from vendors,” so an intuitive experience is key. Learn more about Magento’s B2B module here.

When choosing a B2B e-commerce platform choose a platform with a proven success rate of developing B2B e-commerce stores and can adapt to the changing needs of your company.

Here at Redstage, as a Shopify Plus Partner and Magento Enterprise Partner, we believe one of these great platforms may be the right fit for your B2B store and personally vouch for their abilities. Give us a call anytime for a free consultation on options, features and considerations for each to find the perfect platform for your business.

Top 5 Most Read Ecommerce Articles!

Top 5 Most Read Ecommerce Articles!

At Redstage, we try to keep our content fresh, informative, and interesting for our readers. Whether it’s marketing psychology or the latest ecommerce growth hacks, our aim is to supply you with a constant stream of useful, actionable, and entertaining material. Thanks for tuning in! We hope we’ve helped you on your own quests in the industry. Here are the top 5 most read ecommerce articles from Redstage Worldwide:

#1. Online Buying Behavior: The Difference Between Men & Women

Online Buying Behavior: The Difference between Men and Women

Are Men and Women equals when it comes to shopping? The answer, unsurprisingly, is – definitely not. While much has changed in recent years, there are still some behavioral aspects that set these two genders apart. What this article is primarily tackles though is the difference between online buying behavior between men and women. (read more)

 

#2. Selling & Upselling with Psychology & Human Behavior

Selling & Upselling With Behavioral Psychology

This article was written by Anthony Latona, Redstage Worldwide’s Chief Marketing Officer & Controller. He writes, “Ted.com is one of my favorite websites ever. The entire site is filled with some of the most interesting, captivating, thought provoking and mind blowing presentations from the world’s top geniuses and experts. I highly recommend clicking around Ted.com and learning something… I recently watched this particular video called, “Are we in control of our own Decisions?” by Dan Ariely. Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and wrote the book “Predictably Irrational” (Official Site). His TED Talk is brilliant and has a few ideas that we can use in our online marketing and on our e-commerce websites… Here’s what I found out…” (read more)

 

#3. How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing By 2020

How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing By 2020

According to Adam Morris, CEO of Redstage, “The most profitable companies in 2020 will be those which seamlessly integrate content, product development and lifestyle marketing into the customer journey — and benefit from the data.” As an IoT enthusiast (already automating his household with Google Home), Morris believes “top brands will meet customer needs almost instantly, anywhere, and make customers view brand interactions as a constant benefit to their lifestyle.” In this world… (read more)

 

#4. The Incredible benefits of Magento 2

The Incredible Benefits of Magento 2

Magento just took everything to a whole new level with Magento 2.0. Magento 2 offers a superior feature set compared to nearly any other ecommerce platforms but you may ask yourself… What are the real benefits of Magento 2? Originally, we thought that Magento 2 would simply be a major upgrade from Magento 1, but it’s actually much, much more than that… (read more)

#5. Top 5 Ecommerce Challenges Stores Will Face This Holiday Season & How To Address Them

Top 5

With the holiday season underway, it’s no wonder this one made the list. From stock control to shipping to shopping experiences, here are the top 5 pain-points stores will face this holiday, and our guide to managing these risks. (read more)

Where Did That Button Go? From Magento 1 To Magento 2

Where Did That Button Go? From Magento 1 To Magento 2

Where Did That Button Go? From Magento 1 To Magento 2

The Old Switcheroo

The transition from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is anything but simple. Just ask our Developers and Project Managers who work directly on M1->M2 migrations for clients all the time. Even after you get past the migration itself, there are a few updates to the platform that can throw users for a loop, namely menu buttons being moved around between versions. We do so many migrations, we thought we’d make this helpful chart to assist M2 first-timers, and even some of the more seasoned M2 pros. Here are a handful of menu directions to help you find out, “Where did that button go?” from Magento 1 to Magento 2.

Here are the questions we’ll be answering in this post:



 

1. Update Design Theme

You may be looking for where you used to update your design theme. In Magento 2, there is a new main menu item labeled “Content” which is the new home for numerous menu options.  In M1, you would go to System > Configuration for a majority of settings but they are now recategorized in different locations.  Here’s where the options used to live in M1:

Magento 1
System > Configuration > Design > ::Package::, ::Themes::

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Content > :: Design:: > Themes

 

2. Promotions (Catalog price rules & Cart Price Rules (coupons))

One of the most widely used and most powerful features in Magento is the ability to create powerful discounts and pricing rules.  In Magento 2, this too has changed locations to live inside a new high-level menu labeled, “Marketing”.

Magento 1
Promotions > Catalog Price Rule, Cart Price Rules
Magento 2
Marketing > ::Promotions:: > Catalog Price Rule, Cart Price Rules

 

3. Update Email Templates

You’re sending so many emails to every customer in your store and you should have every one of them optimized.  Now you’ve migrated to Magento 2 and you’re wondering how to add a new template or edit your existing ones.  Here is where these settings used to be and where they have migrated to.

Magento 1
System > Transactional Emails

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Marketing > ::Communications::> Email Templates

 


Want some custom, fresh and highly engaging transactional email designs?
Redstage’s design and dev teams are ready to help!

Click Here to Learn More

 

4. URL Rewrites

URL Rewrites are a useful way to create shorter links from complex URLs and manage the automatically created rewrites that Magento generates.  This is another items that moved into the new “Marketing” section whereas it used to be part of the Catalog in Magento 1:

Magento 1
Catalog > URL Rewrite Management

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Marketing > ::SEO & Search:: > URL Rewrites

 

5. Search Terms & Synonyms

If you’re finding that users are searching for certain terms but not getting the right results, forward them to the right page.  A past Redstage client was selling musical equipment along with some t-shirts.  However, they found that people were searching for “t shirt”, “tee shirt” and sometimes, “tshirt”, along with the plural versions of all of these.  In the default Magento search, the customer searching for these would never find themselves on the “t-shirts” category page but with the search terms and synonyms feature, we were able to direct the searchers to the right category.  In Magento 1, this useful feature used to live in:

Magento 1
Catalog > Search Terms

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Marketing > ::SEO & Search:: > Search Terms

 

6. Manage Reviews

Reviews are the most powerful social proof your site has out of the box and effectively managing them is crucial for your business growth.  Now, reviews are a part of the Marketing section in Magento 2, and in Magento 1 they were part of the catalog settings:

Magento 1
Catalog > Reviews and Ratings > Manage Reviews

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Marketing > ::User Content:: > Reviews


 

7.Manage Ratings

In Magento 2, the setup for your reviews section has moved into a very different section.  In Magento 1, it was considered part of the Reviews and Ratings section within the Catalog heading.  Now, the ratings are considered part of the Attributes section, in Magento 2.

Magento 1
Catalog > Reviews and Ratings > Manage Ratings

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Stores > ::Attributes:: > Rating

 

8. Customer Groups

Managing existing  and creating new customer groups is one of the settings that has moved the most and may be tricky to find.  In M1, these settings were a part of the customers grouping but in Magento 2 it is in the “Stores” Tab under Other settings:

Magento 1
Customers > Customer Groups

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Stores > ::Other Settings:: > Customer Groups


 

9. Update Design Configuration

Design configuration used to be in the system -> Configuration tab, however, it was moved to live in a new high level tab for “Content”.  This is the section that would allow you to add code to the <head> or before </body>, update the copyright and many more.  This is where these settings were in M1:

Magento 1
M1 – System > Configuration > Design

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
M2 – Content > ::Design:: > Configuration > choose theme scope


 

10. Configuration

You were probably very used to going to “System -> Configuration” all the time in M1.  Now, the configuration settings you exptected to be in the system /config are in the stores dropdown -> configuration .

Magento 1
System>Configuration

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Stores>configuration


 

11. CMS Pages/Blocks/etc

Content is still king!  Managing your pages is always going to be important but more importantly, where did the setting go?!  Managing pages and static block content is now in the “Content” menu instead of the CMS heading in M1.

Magento 1
CMS>Pages/blocks/etc.

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Content> Elements>Pages/blocks/etc


 

12. Products/Category Administration

One of the more substantial changes from M1 to M2 is the change of the high level category from “Catalog” to “Products”.  If you’re looking for the place to manage the categories, here is where it was in Magento 1:

Magento 1
Catalog>Manage Products or Catalog>{Categories}>Manage Categories (the middle categories is enterprise only)

…and now in Magento 2:

Magento 2
Products>Catalog or Products>Categories


 

13. Manage Attributes/Attribute Sets

Attributes + Layered navigation create the best way to allow your customers to find what they are looking for in your store.  Making sure your attributes are organized and up to date is critical so let’s find where this setting moved to.

Magento 1
Catalog>Attributes>Manage Attributes or Catalog>Attributes>Manage Attribute Sets
Magento 2
Stores>Attributes>Product or Stores>Attributes>Attribute Set

If you have noticed any additional big changes to the admin, share them in the comments below!

 

How​ ​All​ ​B2C​ ​Companies​ ​Should​ ​Be​ ​Marketing​ ​by​ ​2020

How​ ​All​ ​B2C​ ​Companies​ ​Should​ ​Be​ ​Marketing​ ​by​ ​2020

2020_Marketing_artboard-100

A Connected Vision

Imagine the year is 2020… You awake in your home of the future. The light buzz from your smartwatch pleasantly rouses you from your slumber. You hear the steadily crescendoing notes of your favorite song play through wireless Bluetooth speakers. Morning sun filters into the room as the smartglass on your windows transitions from opaque to clear. As you step out of bed you notice your connected shower is already running, set to the perfect temperature. Meanwhile, your Wi-Fi-enabled coffee machine prepares to brew just in time for your arrival in the kitchen. This is the automated dream of the Internet of Things, and believe it or not, these patterns emulate how B2C companies should be marketing by 2020.

According to Adam Morris, CEO of Redstage, “The most profitable companies in 2020 will be those which seamlessly integrate content, product development and lifestyle marketing into the customer journey — and benefit from the data.” As an IoT enthusiast (already automating his household with Google Home), Morris believes “top brands will meet customer needs almost instantly, anywhere, and make customers view brand interactions as a constant benefit to their lifestyle.” In this world, your coffee would never be too hot, and your shower, never too cold. It combines elements of growth hacking strategies from the world’s most successful marketers to the best “freemium” channel managers. However, there’s one bump in the road to this bright, utopian brand vision… B2C companies are still playing catch-up with today’s technology.

How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing by 2020

Thinking Ahead: Winners & Losers

As Forbes reported in 2015, “only 10% of companies are using marketing automation.” However, in 2016 marketing automation exploded, rising to 49% of B2C companies on average. Still, we’re not seeing the utopian lifestyle we were promised. Why? Blame the learning curve. Because marketers are
still getting used to the software, the investment has not yet matched the results for many. While millennial companies are diving right in, established giants are taking time because this software is changing centuries-old business models, and mass firings of outmoded workers don’t resound well in the minds of shareholders… At least for now… Regardless, young or old, many companies are still not using automation to its full potential.

As a marketing professional, I recommend taking a look at this list here. These marketing platforms have near-endless integrations with programs most companies already use, and that’s the point: Automate and optimize your existing operations, then innovate, restructure and repeat. One notable member of this list, Magento, contains such immense customization capabilities for B2C and B2B marketers that there are now numerous sites solely dedicated to downloadable integrations for the software.

How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing by 2020

Preparing for 2020

Companies like Redstage, Zapier, IFTTT (If-This-Than-That) and even freelance developers constantly build new programs and apps to simplify massive processes for businesses. So if you know your company isn’t ready for the next wave, what’s your excuse? It’s time to hop on the innovation train or risk falling behind when 2020 Marketing comes around. And just in case you’re the one writing the budget proposal, start with the bottom line. As CMO.com reports, “77% of CMOs at top-performing companies indicate their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to grow revenue.” The recipe works. What’s your excuse?

If you liked this article, check out our latest posts:

+ AR & AI: The Ecommerce Arms Race
+ How to Create Viral Marketing for Ecommerce
+ Email Marketing Tips for Retailers

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

My last post covered the benefits of Magento, so I figured it would only be fair to discuss the other side of the coin.

What are the limitations of Magento?

You didn’t think you were going to get all of this awesome functionality and endless extensibility without a few catches did you?

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

1) Speed

We’re just going to tackle the big one right off the bat.  Yeah, Magento is slow, really slow.  I’m sure that’s what you’ve heard anyway.  The truth is, that it’s only really slow in the wrong hands.  Let’s start from the beginning.

Magento was designed to be the most extenisble system ever made.  And the original developers definitely made it happen.  To accomplish this, the system had to be architected by isolating each feature so that changing (extending) that feature wouldn’t affect the rest of the system.  The result is a whooole lot of files.  Magento is reading hundreds if not thousands of different files in hundreds of folders for every single visitor that’s on your site.

So with Magento’s biggest strength, it also inherited its biggest weakness.  I’m pretty sure that if Magento hadn’t gotten so popular so rapidly with tens of thousands of feature requests piling up on their site, then they would’ve gotten around to this speed problem.

What is one to do?  Based on our extensive experience on the subject, there’s actually a lot you can do.  First and foremost, GET A GOOD HOST.  And by good, I also mean that specializing in Magento.  If you throw just default magento onto a Godaddy dedicated server, it’s going to be very slow.  We’ve worked with at least a dozen different hosts, and have had our biggest success with a company called MageMojo — top notch hardware, Magento knowledge, and service.

Next you’re going to want to check out 101 Ways to Speed up your Magento.  It’s a very comprehensive guide.

The hosting is probably 80% of the problem, then the tweaks in the guide should make up the other 20%.  If you have a custom theme, and you’re site’s still really slow after both of those suggestions have been explored, then your problem most likely lies in one of two areas: 1. Your Extensions or 2. A custom Query.

Often times an extension developer will release something that works on a demo store, but is crippling when throwing traffic at it or a DB or more than 10 products.  A great example is a shop by brand extension that we once used that queried every single brand to see if it had products in it just to build a dropdown menu of the active brands.  It added a full second or more to the site’s load time.  That’s one of the reasons that we built our own Shop by Brand Extension.

Similarly, a query written by your site’s development team, may be seemlingly innocent, but under load it kills you.  Usually it’s a very small, simple query that ends up being repeated hundreds of times to build a menu or find bestsellers.

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

2) Documentation

Well, there really is none.  The code isn’t really documented at all, and the manual that Magento has for sale isn’t really that useful.  To be honest, most open source platforms have been very poorly documented, but Magento hasn’t really even given it a shot.

For administration of your magento site, you’re best bet is to get your staff some Magento training, whether by webinar or 1 on 1.  The system has its fair share of quirks and unique terminology that take getting used to.  On the development front, it’s incredibly important to use a firm or developer that has extensive Magento experience.  More on that in #4.

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

3) Upgrades

Again, one of the main benefits of Magento, regular updates, is also a bit of a curse.  Magento’s never really had a good upgrade path, meaning a documented and well thought out process to go from one version to another.  And it doesn’t seem like that’s ever going to be a priority.  The result is that, when upgrading, things tend to break.  Most of the time it’s because a site wasn’t developed using Magento best practices.  But often it’s actually because Magento changed the name of something that was even being properly extended.  I remember one upgrade that Magento removed like 18 DB tables and added 30 new ones.  That was annoying…

There’s no real great way to overcome this limitation other than just ensuring that your site is always properly extended and properly developed with Magento best practices. That’s definitely a great start and will avoid most of your problems.  Anytime you upgrade, though, do it on a separate development environment with some Magento experts on hand.  There’s a great chance that something will break and need to be patched up before you can go live with the new version.

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

4) Complexity of theming and development, Cost of development

Developing a Magento takes about 5 times as long as your old OSCommerce, Zen Cart, CRE Loaded, or similar.  The theming system is, well, tedious.  However, the extra time put in in the beginning is well worth it.  Since Magento is a modern system built to modern standards, you won’t end up with the crazy hack job that you used to get customizing an older shopping cart.  This means that the total cost of the site over time will actually be much cheaper.

About 30% of our projects that come into our office are recoveries from other developers or other firms that have screwed it up.  About 70% of the sites that we have touched, that weren’t built by us, were not built with Magento best practices.  Although, to be fair, that’s usually why the end up in our lap in the first place.

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

5) Search

The out of the box search is, well, awful.  It’s pretty much as basic as it gets, and is totally useless in this age of e-commerce.  It does have some built in tweaks that you can play with, but still, useless.  You do have some options though.  Firstly, there’s Better Store Search, a well established Magento Extension that’s pretty popular.  Then there’s Blast Search Lucene, which upgrades your search to use the Lucene library.  If you want to get really fancy and compete with the big boys, you’ll need a Semantic Search like Celebros for Magento.  (Shameless plug: Redstage is the first certified solutions provider of Celebros for Magento).

Limitations of Magento (And How to Overcome Them)

Final Thoughts

I think that about covers it.  Hopefully I haven’t scared you all off!

In my opinion, Magento’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. Magento is really one of the most powerful and extensible e-commerce platforms that I’ve ever worked with.  It’s important, though, to at least know what you’re getting yourself into.

For more information on Magento, give us a call! We’re happy to help with all your Magento needs.

Check out this related article for more intel on Maganto
+ Benefits of Magento (redstage.com)

Don’t forget to view our latest articles!
+ AR & AI: The Ecommerce Arms Race
+ How to Create Viral Marketing for Ecommerce
+ How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing By 2020
+ Email Marketing Tips for Retailers