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5 Strategic Questions to Ask Before Choosing a B2B Ecommerce Platform

Before you start comparing B2B ecommerce platforms, there are some fundamental questions that you need to ask yourself (and your team) to ensure you are on the right path to ecommerce business transformation.


What are the company’s true business goals?

Revenue is of course, a major goal many companies have in mind when considering ecommerce. However, a strong B2B ecommerce strategy may also include goals regarding increases in efficiency, reductions in costs of sales, and enhanced customer engagement.

You need to take time to define what your organization is looking to accomplish as part of the ecommerce implementation. Maybe you’re looking to automate low-value tasks so your teams can focus on activities that are more valuable to the organization. Or maybe you’re looking to go completely digital and push all orders to your online channel. Whatever your goals, include them in your evaluation of each platform.

Make sure that each platform will allow you to meet those goals, or that it provides the ability for customization to meet the goals. If it doesn’t, then you need to consider a different platform. Don’t get bogged down in a never-ending cycle of potentially expensive fixes and customization because you purchased the wrong platform. Your ecommerce platform should be easily extensible and provide for efficient integration of new modules and functionality.

Which buying journeys do we need to accommodate?

B2B ecommerce involves more than a simple buyer–seller relationship. Every role involved in the buying cycle — from logistics to accounting and beyond — requires buy-in to ecommerce. The solution must make it easier for everyone to do their jobs.

How will the platform be tailored for our B2B business?

Many ecommerce solutions that were originally designed for simpler B2C transactions have entered the B2B ecommerce market. The reality is that B2B ecommerce is much more complex than B2C. Do your homework and ensure your platform can handle B2B requirements right out of the box.

That means it needs to handle things like simple and complex promotions, dynamic product catalogs with customer-specific pricing, advanced search capability customized for each user’s unique needs, multi-site support, exact inventory levels, and reports that can be run at a product, category, or customer level.

What systems need to be integrated with the platform?

It’s remarkable how many ecommerce initiatives fail because integration wasn’t considered. Without a synchronous integration strategy to backend systems like ERP, PIM, CRM, and payment gateways, B2B ecommerce cannot provide the real-time data that fuels most of its benefits.

Ensure your ecommerce solution can integrate with your key back-office systems so it can leverage the crucial information that already exists within them.

Who are we partnering with?

A B2B ecommerce platform is more than technology. It needs to support an entire ecosystem, from full-service sales and support to self-service ordering and promotions.

How do you know if you need an implementation partner? Look at your organization and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do we have B2B ecommerce experience?
  • Do we have experience with the software?
  • Do we have dedicated resources?
  • Do we have technical capabilities?
  • Will we have complete access to software vendor support?
  • Are we able to manage all aspects of the project?
  • Do we have the budget to work in-house?

Of course, all situations are different, so there may be factors not on this list that you’ve already applied to determine your need. However, these are the most common qualifiers and in general if you answered no to one or more of these questions, that means you need partners that understand the complexities of B2B. The right B2B ecommerce platform will have implementation partners that have demonstrated success time and again.