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Key Considerations for B2B Ecommerce Platform Selection

Evaluating platforms and partners is only part of the equation. To set your organization up for ecommerce success, you also need to look at your internal structure and processes to ensure that the business can support an additional sales channel.

While this is certainly an issue for companies just getting started in ecommerce, it’s also a valuable exercise for those with mature ecommerce programs to validate that no changes need to be made.


These are some of the key areas of focus that you should review as part of any ecommerce program evaluation.

Review your tech stack

  1. Do a deep dive into your existing tech stack to make sure it’s scalable and future-proof. The last thing you want to do is spend time and money on a platform or ecommerce implementation that includes redundant features and functions. Make sure your stack can keep up with the ecommerce platform.
  2. Make sure that your existing ERP is scalable, and that it supports long term business needs.
  3. Review 3rd party applications – middleware, tax calculators, payment gateways, etc. - to make sure you’re moving forward with technologies that are going to require the least amount of customization (where possible).

At the end of the day, the idea is to have a holistic view of your business needs and goals, create a technology stack that works well together and allows you to grow as a company in the long term.

Review existing business processes

Review your existing business processes to determine what is essential, what can be simplified and whether there is anything that can be eradicated completely. This includes engaging with existing customers to understand what they’re looking for and what is essential to them.

Identify areas of your business or processes that might be tailored to individual customer or accounts – there is a time and place for creating custom procedures to meet the needs of one or two high value customers. However, if you find that you’re tailoring underlying business requirements for many of them, look to see if there is a way to simplify the process.

  • Look at how your data is structured and whether it’s ready to pull into an ecommerce platform. Is your category structure organized and relevant? Is your product data polished and consistent (titles, descriptions, attributes, images, etc.)? How much data cleanup do you have to do?
  • Is your back-office ready to handle a new line of business? Do you need to create new distribution channels in your ERP, or move product to a different warehouse to accommodate online sales distribution?
  • Is your Customer Service team ready to answer customer questions or help customers get acclimated to a new process?
  • Are inside/outside sales teams fully trained on how to get customers onboarded, and can they answer questions about how the site works? Are they prepared to support the new site? Have they overcome the fear of being replaced by a website?

Identify the ecommerce team

Having the right team in place is vital to the success of the program. If your ecommerce program doesn’t have adequate and appropriate resources, you’re setting yourself up for less than desirable results.

There are so many moving pieces, especially during development and roll out of a new program. Consider the different functional areas:

  • Project leadership
  • Product management
    • Data collection & management
    • Data integrity
  • Marketing support
    • Product content management
    • Graphics, videos, product photos
    • SEO
    • Content marketing
    • Operations
    • Reporting and analytics

You also need to consider if dedicated customer service, warehousing, or production teams are required to manage new customers and processes.

There are different strategic approaches to take when starting up an ecommerce team. Smaller companies may only fill key strategic roles as the program ramps up. If you’re running a small team, look for people who have the skills and aptitude to take on multiple roles as long as that doesn’t impede operational progress or produce inferior results.

Should you choose to outsource segments of the team, do so with the intent of bringing essential functions in-house as quickly as possible so you can begin to build institutional knowledge.

Regardless of the approach, you will see the benefit of developing specialized roles as the ecommerce program expands.

Define your Sales & Marketing strategy

You need to have clear goals and strategies in place for how your sales and marketing teams will approach the task of growing the business through online channels. Here are a few pointers to consider to help you better connect with your customers.

  1. Make sure your pricing and logistics makes sense for ecommerce. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. If you’re having to create workarounds due to a lack of flexibility in your sales model, then you’re not achieving any gains from having ecommerce and you will end up frustrating your staff and your customers.
  2. Do you have buyer personas? If so, are they applicable to ecommerce? If not, then you need to spend time looking at your customers’ buying journeys. Spend time talking to a cross-section of customers to see how they use ecommerce or want to use ecommerce and incorporate that information into your personas. Use this data when building your on-site and off-site marketing strategy.
  3. As part of your strategy, be prepared to experiment and test with different content, colors, placement and wording of CTAs, and other site elements. Incorporate analytics tools and data into your strategy to make decisions about how you’re presenting your products. Once your site is live, replicate things that work across the site, and be prepared to shift when it stops working. Don’t be afraid to fail, because that’s the best way to learn about what not to do.
  4. Don’t forget to include how you interact with your customers after the purchase as part of your marketing strategy. Returns, product, and order support, restocking notifications – these all contribute to a best-in-class ecommerce experience, which allows you to nurture customers and drive repeat business. One poor online experience can destroy a relationship that potentially took years to develop.