Launching and managing an enterprise ecommerce website is quite a big decision for a B2B business that has been operating offline. Taking your business online positions you to explore the booming B2B ecommerce market that is valued at US$10.6 trillion in 2018 and growing.
Going online greatly benefits B2B companies. By going online these firms have been able to reach new markets and customers. Also, running and managing the B2B business online has been known to increase operational efficiency and improve order fulfilment.
However, to get all these benefits it is essential that you choose an enterprise ecommerce platform that is flexible, scalable, secure and ready to adapt to the changes of your high-volume business. Also, the platform should be user-friendly with a smooth learning curve.
A host of turnkey B2B solutions in the market claim to be offering all the above to help a high-volume business achieve its goals. However, what nobody tells you in their marketing pitch is the effort needed to build, manage and maintain an enterprise ecommerce website.
This information is of utmost importance as it helps you make an informed decision and choose the right solution for your business. After all, the main aim of going online is to grow the business, not to be stuck with learning the nuances of the platform. This necessitates that you understand the challenges (if any) of the B2B ecommerce solution that you are opting for and investing in.
While every enterprise ecommerce website has a host of features that are helpful, here are a few things you need to check before you take the final leap;
The Challenge of Technology
Ask yourself a question. Do you want a technological solution that is high-end but complicated or do you want a technology that is modern yet simple to understand?
You definitely go with the latter, right?
After all, the whole purpose of a good technical solution is to make your work lighter. Whatever be the size of a business, it can become taxing to invest additional time, resource and money into understanding, learning and implementing the complex technology on which their enterprise ecommerce platform is built. This also means that you will have to set up a separate team of technical experts or outsource your website development to third-party service providers who have the expertise of handling that particular technology.
Also, to create a unique enterprise-grade website you might have to go through endless cycles of development which in turn diverts attention from business expansion. Many of the popular enterprise ecommerce platforms keep launching minor or major upgrades. This implies that either you have to migrate to the advanced version or you will be stuck with a slower system that is not supported by the newer version.
With so much at stake, you need to thoroughly check your B2B solution provider before you put your trust and money into buying their services. Check if it offers the following;
- A turnkey solution that can be implemented quickly
- Flexible and ease to allow changes rapidly
- Ability to tweak the enterprise ecommerce platform to create unique flows and entities
- A mobile-ready solution without the need to duplicate your site
- Ability to build iOS and Android mobile apps without coding
- An auto-upgradable platform with no hassle of upgrades and migration
- Security and prevention from common security threats like SQL injection, DDoS attacks etc.
- User-friendly design theme that has drag-drop features for easy customizations
If you get an affirmative answer to all these pointers, you can rest assured that this enterprise ecommerce platform will take care of all your development needs and allow you to focus on scaling your B2B business.
Even if the cost is not a constraint for a high-volume enterprise business but there certainly are some expenditure limits within which a business operates. If you opt for an on-premise solution provider you will have to keep a budget for various ongoing costs that cannot be predicted when you start building your website.
Most of the on-premise enterprise ecommerce platforms charge an annual fee but as your website development progresses you might have to spend additionally on development, updates and new third-party plugins.
Along with these upfront costs, there might be many hidden costs like paid hosting, servers, CDN etc. Also, you might have to opt for paid support services from a third party that has experience in handling the technical issues of your enterprise ecommerce platform.
Before you finalize your solution provider make sure that you don’t have to bear costs for the following;
- A fully managed infrastructure with CDN, firewall, backup servers, image processing etc.
- 99.99% uptime and load scalability during traffic peaks
- Android and iOS apps for a single or multiple substores
- Auto-renewable SSL for single or multiple substores
- Premium plugins to create flows needed for an enterprise ecommerce website
- Upfront cost for integrating with ecommerce logistics providers
- Design themes at a premium cost to suit your brand needs
- Free pre and post sales support using multiple channels like email, chat, forums, help center etc.
Do ask as many questions as needed to ascertain that your enterprise solution offers all these cost-saving features and does not inflate your budget substantially.
Well, there are a host of enterprise ecommerce platforms that are popular for their performance and ecommerce solutions. But have you ever dug deeper and tried to find out how many of these are build essentially for bespoke solutions for enterprise ecommerce?
Most of these platforms have a rigid structure and offer solutions that are based on the principle of one size fits all. Also, these are basically built for SMEs which outnumber enterprise businesses. So, to implement any B2B or out-of-the-box-feature, you will have to rely on a host of third-party plugins or hire a technical team that can spend time to learn the technical requirements and then create an enterprise ecommerce website for your bespoke business.
Look for features that go beyond a generic ecommerce experience and offer a differentiating edge to your online store. You might not need many of these features right away but having a solution available always comes handy when your business grows and you need to implement changes that can take your business to new heights of success.
Before you seal the deal with your enterprise ecommerce platform check if they have the following built-in specific features;
- Ability to roll out and manage a multi-vendor marketplace easily
- Flexibility to set up multiple sub stores managed from a common central admin
- A powerful discount engine that allows to setup different discounts for individual B2B customers
- Strong Tax-engine that supports hierarchical, flat and percentage wise taxes
- Multilingual feature to connect with customers in their native language
- Multicurrency feature to help customers across the globe pay in their preferred currency
- Pricing overrides to facilitate wholesale prices along with retail prices on a B2B website
- A solid backend that consolidates your business and gives you all details of your business like history, orders, inventory, vendors etc. at one place
These features are usually overlooked in the hurry to get an enterprise ecommerce website rolling. But if you investigate and find all these features in your enterprise ecommerce platform, wait for no further and sign the deal.
Now, that you have a clear idea of the features that nobody tells you about, you can create a checklist and ask as many questions as it needs to decide the best enterprise ecommerce platform for your business.
StoreHippo offers all the above-listed features and cost-saving services to help you focus on scaling your business without bothering about technology or maintenance. Sign up for our 14-day free trial or book a free demo to take a tour of the awesome features designed to help you build an enterprise ecommerce website for your business.