B2B E-Commerce: Knowing What to Look for in a Great Platform
Have you recently started your very
own online business? Perhaps you are looking to take your current virtual
presence to the next level or your website is not attracting the number of visitors
that was expected. These are some of the reasons why “going it alone”
might not be the best idea. Freelancers are now turning towards the world of
e-commerce in order to broaden their virtual horizons, and for good reason. Not
only will more potential customers see what you have to offer, but the chances
of establishing a loyal client base will dramatically increase.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to understand what goes into a solid e-commerce provider. What variables should you take into account? Are there any utilities and tools which represent the “gold standard”? How can you avoid making costly mistakes along the way? Whether you are new to the online community or a seasoned veteran, the information below will come in handy.
First Things First: Judging a Book By Its Cover
Before you even think about committing to a certain e-commerce solution, consider what is known as the “UX”. UX is an acronym for “user experience”. In this case, it applies to how easily you can employ the tools within the program itself. It is best to choose a platform that is simple and straightforward. In other words, you should not be required to know a great deal of coding to begin.
The best way to determine this is to subscribe to a free trial and to examine the main dashboard. Try to answer questions such as:
- How confusing is the layout?
- Does the site offer drag-and-drop functionality?
- What types of templates (and how many) are offered?
- Can I easily navigate between different pages?
- Will my updates immediately appear and can I change them before they go live?
Never forget that any e-commerce solution is only as powerful as its user-friendly nature, so don’t be afraid to dig deep.
The All-Important Factor of Customer Service Solutions
It has been shown that no less than 97 percent of B2B professionals consider customer service paramount to brand reputation. This is why the role of client engagement cannot be denied. How easy is it for you to interact with your business-to-business customers? What avenues are provided? Does the e-commerce platform offer options such as live chat widgets and automated email options? Keep in mind that the reputation of your brand will depend upon how it is perceived by the general public. If you can engage with a client at a moment’s notice, your overall retention rates will soar through the roof. This brings us to the next main point.
What About Social Media?
Research firm IDG has found that 84 percent of top-level buyers are actively influenced by social media campaigns. As these individuals tend to make important decisions, it only makes sense that an e-commerce platform should offer immediate access to important channels.
This has actually been a sticking point in the past, as many executives tended to doubt the benefits of social media from a marketing point of view. However, things have now changed. Even major firms such as IBM and General Electric maintain active pages. These portals allow them to speak directly with customers. In turn, they can address any questions and perhaps more importantly, obtain valuable feedback in order to make appropriate changes. Make sure that your B2B ecommerce solution can be used on major sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Scalability: Changing with the Times
A stiff and solid tree tends to be uprooted by a strong wind. However, more thin and flexible plants can weather the storm. This same analogy can be applied to the world of business-to-business commerce. You need to work with a platform that is capable of changing with your needs. After all, the world of online retail sales is hardly static. Perhaps you need to upgrade a certain page in order to accommodate a larger number of customers. In the same respect, you might instead be required to downsize in the event that sales temporarily slump. The best solutions will offer a degree of flexibility which can deal with these and other situations.
Fitting a Round Peg Into a Square Hole
Will the e-commerce software work well with your existing (sometimes known as legacy) systems? This can be a problem at times, as low-quality providers might not recognise some software. You could be forced to change a number of programs that would have otherwise been perfectly fine. The best way to avoid such a situation is to carefully read the fine print. If you still have questions, speak with a customer representative. He or she will be able to answer any questions in no time at all.
The Mobile-Friendly Edge
It is no secret that many enterprises conduct business over a mobile device. So, make certain that the e-commerce solution is able to accommodate such needs. Your pages should display exactly the same as they would on a normal computer and different operating systems must not present an issue. The good news is that the majority of e-commerce portals offer this as a built-in capability.
Word of Mouth
Finally, take a look at what other business owners have had to say about their experiences with the provider in question. Were they satisfied or have they expressed numerous concerns? Word of mouth is very important, as it will provide you with an objective opinion. This is why searching for testimonials should represent an important part of the decision-making process.
Finding the best e-commerce provider for your needs does not have to represent brain surgery. Still, the factors above should always be taken into account. If you are able to make an informed decision today, the chances are high that your B2B enterprise will enjoy success far into the digital future.