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3 Key Questions to Consider When Building a B2B Commerce Program

There’s no one right way to build a B2B ecommerce experience that works for all organizations However, all companies have the same goals: deliver a seamless digital shopping experience with accurate pricing, save your customer service team time, and provide quality customer data to inform sales and marketing tactics that elevate your business above your competition.

Adobe Commerce, formerly Magento, is the leading commerce platform for B2B companies, according to The Forrester Wave™ and hundreds of leading manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through several exploratory questions to consider when crafting a B2B commerce program.

What's your pricing strategy?

You might be using a pricing structure that’s grown organically over the years, with customers who have negotiated specific price books with the details spread out over dozens of spreadsheets. Replicating a complicated and scattered set of contracts online in a single place can seem like a daunting task, so if this describes you, you’ll need a platform that can support customer-specific price books. You may not want to show pricing to guests or unauthenticated users for some product lines, and you may need give quantity-specific price breaks for bulk purchases.

One of the very first steps in your digital transformation will be to represent your pricing logic in a consistent set of documents and processes that not only represent the current state, but also the future state. Don’t simply replicate everything you’re doing now if there are problems or unsustainable margin-destructive processes.

Adobe Commerce can support these B2B pricing models natively, and it has full API coverage to integrate with back-office systems if these pricebooks need to be managed further upstream.

Where is your product data?

It’s very common to have fragmented product data that is neither customer-friendly nor SEO-friendly. One reason to build an ecommerce site in the first place is to get your catalog online and crawled and indexed by search engines like Google. You may have a brochure or brand site that works well when someone searches for your company name, but what about your products? When a potential buyer starts the buying process, will they find you, or will they find a competitor?

Once consumers land on your site, they’ll need informative product content beyond just a part number. Rich descriptions, images, technical specifications, and product attribute data such as case pack quantity, material, application, size, and other information that will help them to know they are buying the right products for their business.

One of the most important things you must do to get your customers buying online is to establish trust. Not only trust in your organization and your ability to deliver solid customer service, but trust in the information they use to identify the correct product for their plant, store, or customer. If you invest in a transactional ecommerce site, it will not be successful if customers are still picking up the phone to place their order, or worse, going to a competitor.

Adobe Commerce has a highly flexible model for managing your product data - including robust import tools, infinite variations and attributes, and six different product types. Many platforms limit the amount of customization you can have in your product catalog, but Adobe Commerce is famous for its freedom.

How do your customer wants to buy from you?

This can be a tricky conversation for many B2B sales teams. Traditional offline sales teams often view ecommerce as an expensive distraction from the tried and true methods they’ve employed for decades. If your sales reps are primarily order-takers, it’s easy to see why they might feel threatened by a site that allows their customers to self-serve. Your ecommerce site should empower your sales team, not replace them. Would your reps like to have the time to nurture their existing relationships, cross-sell and up-sell, and spend more time finding new opportunities?

More importantly, would your customers like to be able to request a quote, build re-order lists for different locations and seasons, and instantly re-order from their history? Would your customers like the ability to manage buyers on their team, view invoice history, and manage payment methods on their schedule, without waiting for a rep to answer the phone?

Your customers are as busy as you are, and they need the freedom to manage their account and orders 24-7, without being dependent on another person to answer the line. They might want to place orders from their phones in the field, or on their tablet while onsite in a plant. B2B buyers are looking for convenience above all else, because ordering from you is part of their job and they have limited time to do their jobs, just like you. Adobe Commerce’s B2B suite includes support for all of the experiences outlined above, and many others.

Merkle has an award-winning B2B marketing and strategy team, with a proven track record of building Adobe Commerce sites for our clients. Contact us to learn more, and we’d love to talk more about pricing, product data, and purchasing.

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