B2B selling is one of the fastest growing areas of ecommerce, with growth expected to overtake B2C ecommerce by 2020. The increasing importance of B2B, in fact, is one of the reasons Magento has been consistently adding new B2B features with each release. Such change has not gone unnoticed. A recent Forrester Wave report cited Magento as the “Best fit for mid-sized B2B companies that want an open, feature-rich solution that can be extended easily and inexpensively.” Their evaluation criteria also awarded Magento the highest possible score in the report in a total of 14 categories. As one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world, with unique insights from annual surveys of more than 675,000 consumers and business leaders, Forrester’s analysis adds a voice of reputation to Magento’s many trusted clients.
In this article, we’ll explore Magneto’s more important B2B functions. To begin with, it’s worth looking over the features Magento includes. These are the most common B2B functions we implement in our projects:
- Implementing list of verified contractors
- Individual or collective negotiation of discounts / price lists
- Wholesale ordering systems with advanced functionality; e.g. ordering files or offering creation
- Saving and sharing shopping cart content
- Common B2B payment methods (e.g. trade credit)
In the cases like this one, all the dedicated functions are implemented as extra Magento modules. That way, you are still able to update your Magento, which is crucial for safety reasons.
With Magento Commerce you have the ability to run separate accounts on a single installation. By running separate admin accounts in this way, you can create user hierarchies and assign different user roles and permissions between team members and company divisions. Meanwhile, the company admin can control user activity including payment methods, pricing levels, negotiate prices, requisition lists and custom catalogs. B2B customers also have access to shared account controls and shared catalog. Historically, customers have had a single purchaser account for making purchases. But now, Magento allows multiple buyers to share an account as a native feature. Account owners and webstore admins can define account roles and adjust buyer permissions for individual users for a variety of scenarios e.g. where orders are submitted by one account user while final order approval is granted to another user from a different department.
Quote Request Form
In the past, if a B2B webstore wanted to offer a quote request form, it had to use a third-party extension or plugin; likewise for similar ecommerce platforms like Shopify. Magento 2 saw the addition of quote requests where B2B customers can submit a request for a quote from within their shopping cart. That quote request form includes the ability to add documentation or additional comments with the submission. This native function is more than a form submission tool. On the admin side, Magento store owners have a quote management panel that provides access to: Quote details Historical logs Communications data Quote negotiations. These negotiations features are a huge step forward for B2B on Magento, enhancing buyer relations and building relationships. Through the management interface, a merchant can offer price changes and shipping offers, recommendations for alternative products, and set expiration dates for quotes that apply a sense of urgency to any proposal.
Order Fulfilment & Invoicing
Magento has a comprehensive order management system. It allows you to view all orders in one view and click on each separate order. The order system in Magento 2 also allows you to completely customise the status of your order fulfilment so that it is specific to your business. You can invoice and send updates to customers regarding their order shipping status. Additionally, you can set up additional processes within the quoting process, like quote expiration: this allows you to set a period within which the quote is active and create a sense of urgency around the pricing. Ultimately, Magento gives you the control and flexibility to provide a strong customer experience for B2B online orders. With the Magento order management system you can deliver seamless functionality – fulfilling orders from PC, PoS or tablet, providing an “endless aisle” of product to consumers.
Advanced User Account Management
Magento offers a refined user management system. Within this part of the platform, you can associate company accounts. This allows you to segment by team, division or region. Each company (and buyer) can assign their own set of roles and permissions in the system. New self-service tools also allow corporate accounts with multiple buyers and layered organisational structures to interface with the system according to their allocated access.
Pricing is undoubtedly one of the key components of any successful ecommerce website strategy. It is especially important in B2B where you are often selling products in large volumes. Within Magento 2, price can be managed using customer group pricing so that certain customer groups get different tiered price point breaks. In this way, tiered pricing makes it possible to offer set prices to customer groups based on the quantity purchased.
50% of B2B searches are now made on smartphones. It therefore makes sense to put mobile optimisation at the heart of any B2B business. Introduced in Magento 2, RWD (Responsive web design) allows customers and sales staff to place orders on any device (e.g. smart phone, tablet) in varying screen resolutions. This ensures that your customers can access your site, however they connect.
As we hope we’ve made clear, business to business is an area of ecommerce under rapid growth, expected to overtake business to consumer by 2020. Thankfully, Magento is well ahead of the curve when it comes to its B2B functionality. With all the features we’ve highlighted here and more, you should be ready to begin your excursion into the expanding territory of B2B.
To find out more about what Magento 2 can do, please see our complete Magento ecommerce guide.