B2B commerce will shape the future of ecommerce in the coming years, but it is still in infancy stage today. A 2015 forecast from Frost & Sullivan expects total B2B ecommerce sales worldwide to reach $6.7 trillion by 2020, accounting for 27% of all B2B sales.
Thus, B2B commerce is marked by fast growth, the development of new marketplaces and an increase of purchases over mobile. Andy Hoar, Analyst Manager at Forrester Research, summarizes the trend:
The future of B2B commerce is the present of B2C commerce.
B2B merchants’ challenge is to offer their business customers a B2C user experience, while integrating the specificities of B2B sector (pricing schedules, customized catalog offers, open account payments, quotation management, …).
The Leader of B2C ecommerce solutions Magento has evolved and gained an edge on its competitors. Indeed, Magento Enterprise Edition’s second version offers B2B buyers an intuitive, simple and powerful solution that includes B2B modules.
Optimizing implementation and development costs with Magento 2
Magento 2 has been available since November 2016 and leverages the concepts of its first version which was adopted by more than 250,000 E-commerce sites around the world. This new release was designed with a primary objective: reduce time to market by 50%!
Thus, the new version of Magento provides:
- A Modern Tech Stack based on popular, innovative PHP frameworks and coding patterns ;
- Layered Product Architecture that supports the separation of visual presentation from backend business logic ;
- Modular Codebase to offer limitless flexibility and to enable fine grain customizations ;
- Extensive and Efficient APIs to seamlessly integrate and operate at scale with any third-party solution ;
- Automated and Built-in Testing to speed up the QA process ;
- And Easier Upgrades to quickly add new functionality as it becomes available with Magento’s quarterly development cycle.
For example, Igepa Group, the European B2B leader in the stationery sector, successfully gathered 9 of its websites under one single brand within only 6 months.
Another Magento 2 priority is to offer better performances to fit the needs of the biggest E-commerce websites. Large companies are increasingly interested in this solution because it’s much cheaper to implement than its competitors! For example, Meyer Quick Service Logistik, the company supplying Burger King and Pizza Hutt franchisees, has selected Magento to manage its 700 points of sale, which can receive up to 1000 orders per hour !
MEETING THE NEEDS OF BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS SECTOR WITH B2B MODULES
The digital channel is an obvious growth opportunity for B2B companies. However to leverage it, companies have to adapt their Ecommerce website to the purchasing habits of professional customers. A “Business” customer does not buy the same way as an individual, and every company expects specific commercial pricing and conditions. The B2B customer wants negotiated prices, requests quotations, involves several collaborators in the order process, etc. To cater for the complex and customized B2B needs, Magento 2 B2B Enterprise Edition now includes the main features dedicated to business-to-business commerce :
Catalog can be “filtered” depending on the B2B customer (for example, certain products may be reserved for a certain company’s typology). Product references which are internal to customers can be managed, in order to facilitate the ordering process by the purchasing department. The same Magento platform will thus be able to support B2C and B2B catalogs but it will also manage different B2B catalogs.
Many functionalities are made to allow complex pricing management: multiple tariff schedules, volume discounts, minimum quantities, pre-taxes prices …
Multi-contact enterprise accounts
In order to be as close as possible to B2B order processes, a Magento Client account can manage different users with specific rights for each member : adding products to the shopping cart, placing an order, requesting a quote … The Magento module can manage several departments of a company by granting access rights while respecting the posts and levels of responsibility of each person : buyer, administrator, accountant, etc.
Many professional customers frequently place the same orders. Magento simplifies the purchase by enabling them to order quickly (order via SKU), to import excel files of the list of product references and related quantities, or to re-order in just one click the products from a previous order.
Requests for quotations, once negotiated, can also be converted into an order. The payment methods are also adapted to the companies, especially with the integration of the payment on account.
Coupling with the company’s information system (IS)
The interfacing of the e-commerce platform with the company’s IS (logistics, CRM, commercial management, billing, PIM …) is essential. It must be seamless. This is why Magento now offers an API, which should allow rapid development of middleware applications. These applications are responsible for the connection with an ERP or any other service. See you next year for a first review of these APIs !
Provide customization features to your B2B customers thanks to Magento Enterprise Edition
A B2B e-commerce website must meet specific requirements, but it also must offer purchasing experiences similar to those in B2C. This is the tricky part! At the design level, the professional buyer expects to have a simple, intuitive and fully autonomous online shopping experience. Responsive Design is a must since he might want to place an order from any device at any time. At the marketing level, Magento Enterprise Edition optimizes the commercial performance of a B2B eCommerce website. Indeed, it offers well-proven functionalities on the consumer market:
- Customer segmentation (based on specific characteristics: company size, address, order history, order frequency, etc.);
- Targeted merchandising;
- Promotions on items from the catalog or on the customer’s cart;
- Cross-sell, up-sell;
- Wish lists;
- Persistent cart;
- Sending automatic emails …
In addition, Magento offers many different delivery methods by integrating with delivery modules. These shipping methods can be configured depending on the delivery address, the weight, the price of the products, or even sometimes according to the values of some product attributes.
Magento 2 B2B Enterprise Edition combines all the ingredients to solve the delicate equation of B2B eCommerce. It manages to deal with the complexity and the multiplicity of B2B order taking, while offering a B2C shopping experience. If the B2B merchants understand this double need, they’ll be able to quickly develop their businesses.