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9 Criteria for Selecting B2B Ecommerce Platforms

With so many B2B ecommerce platforms to choose from, what criteria will you evaluate them on? Here’s a quick list of must-have functionality to keep in mind while you are considering options.



Instead of having to rely on human assistance to complete a purchase, customers will want to find information and solve problems themselves. The ability to self-serve 24 hours per day increases customer satisfaction and drives organizational efficiencies for your business.

Customer-specific pricing

Unlike B2C, prices for B2B ecommerce can vary from customer to customer. So, the platform must offer the ability to replicate complex pricing rules often defined by the ERP or optionally present pricing through real-time integration calls to the backend systems to retrieve and display customer specific pricing.

Catalog management

Product catalogs can become unwieldy, especially within manufacturing and distribution companies, with new product attributes, units of measure, and geographical restrictions complicating them. The platform must allow a great deal of product flexibility and intuitive navigation so customers can easily find what they want (and only what they want) without getting overwhelmed.

Mobile responsiveness

B2B customers are increasingly searching and ordering for business purchases on mobile (although they often complete purchases on desktop). Your platform must be able to accommodate this behavior and render responsively across multiple devices and operating systems.

Payment options

Existing customers may have credit lines to purchase from your business and previously negotiated pricing. Product catalogs and inventory may also change based on billing and shipping locations. Often, different rules and processes are tied to each customer. Your platform must have the ability to manage all the possible variations.

Workflow personalization

B2B customers often have multiple people involved in the commerce processes. Each of these people are important in making decisions, including selecting the correct product, securing the right price, and managing the order and delivery. You may have your own unique processes and workflows that impact theirs. Your platform needs to be flexible enough to accommodate the many workflows and complexities associated with B2B.


There are two types of hosting. On-premise means the platform is installed on-site and you maintain your own servers that the software is deployed on. Cloud-based means the platform is hosted by the service providers, allowing access from any web browser. Hosting will affect areas such as maintenance, security, customization, and of course, cost.

If you decide to host on-premise, you need to make sure your network infrastructure is up to current security and PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards, and that you can provide a stable environment that can handle traffic loads with the highest possible uptime. You also need to have resources that are specialized in network security and administration that can manage the environment. Consider a cloud-based solution if you don’t have the ability to deliver this environment in-house.


Most businesses have invested heavily in systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and other solutions. These will contain critical customer data and product data, so your platform needs to integrate with existing systems to ensure minimal disruption to the customer experience across all your channels.


Compared to traditional architectures, headless ecommerce provides many benefits including implementation and cost efficiencies, unparalleled scalable flexibility, and complete control over the user interface. Additionally, integration with critical business systems is easier due to the API-driven nature of a headless system.

With a headless platform you’re not relying on a software company to deliver customizations you need. Headless platforms provide maximum customization capability with the flexibility to deliver enhanced functionality at speed and scale. However, you may not have the development resources to build out the site components, in which case you will want to look at more traditional monolithic platforms.


Additional questions you should ask about key functionality

Many potential buyers of a B2B ecommerce platform tend to focus on the main feature points listed above. But there are other areas that are equally important, and not always considered a key area of functionality.

Plan for the future

As part of your evaluation, analyze relevant platform options to make sure you’re selecting the one that is going to have 80% of what you need out of the box, and make sure it’s extendable for the 20% that’s not.

What APIs are available?

Most modern platforms achieve integration through APIs. Although there is certainly some customization required around the specific integration strategy, if the platform doesn’t provide a standard integration point you could be looking at increased cost to build out your stack.

What marketing functions are included?

Unfortunately, cornfield magic doesn’t extend to ecommerce websites. “If you build it, they will come” - but only if you also let them know it’s there.

Most ecommerce platforms include some level of marketing functionality, the most basic being things like abandoned cart emails. If this is what you’re getting, make sure at a minimum you can customize these so you can reinforce your branding and messaging.

More advanced platforms give you the ability to do things like email campaigns, marketing automation, and personalization. Some platforms will include this functionality but will then integrate with third-party marketing tools that fill the gaps. Others require integration with a digital experience platform.

Make sure you understand what each system is capable of so that your marketing teams are set up for success rather than frustration.

What content management capabilities are included?

Until recently many B2B companies weren’t really concerned about site content beyond just products and checkout pages.

Almost every ecommerce platform now includes some form of content management functionality. In the B2B space the typical platform traditionally included limited capability to design product, category, and landing pages. As customers now expect an enhanced buying experience, content marketing has become much more important and ecommerce software companies are putting out platforms with more advanced content management functionality.

For those that don’t, there are integrations available that combine best-in-class content management systems with feature-rich ecommerce platforms that allow customers to deliver the ultimate personalized shopping experience.

You need to consider your audience, your marketing team’s capabilities, and your marketing strategy to determine what level of content management you need in your ecommerce platform.

How usable are the OOB reports?

Detailed reporting is essential for ecommerce success because you need to understand what’s selling, what’s not selling, and reasons for both. Some platforms treat detailed reports as an afterthought, while others provide basic reports OOB but allow users to either build their own as needed.

You should also consider the usability of the reporting interface. You should not require extensive specialized training to build or run reports in your ecommerce platform, nor should you need to spend time waiting for IT to build reporting datasets or structures. Reporting is one of the most important functions in an ecommerce platform, so make sure the one you choose provides the formats you need.

How usable is the platform for YOU?

Last, but perhaps most important: make sure that your internal users can be onboarded easily and can easily acclimate to the system.

Make sure that your platform doesn’t exceed your team’s expertise, abilities, and bandwidth. Don’t get an enterprise platform when one designed for a small business is more appropriate. Does your business sell under multiple brand names or through subsidiaries? If so, make sure the platform can run multiple storefronts.

Finally, is the site easy to maintain? Can you perform bulk product updates without requiring a programmer? Can sales and customer service reps easily locate order and customer information? If the platform is difficult to use, adoption will be a major challenge.