B2B eCommerce Back-Office Core Features

Guide to the benefits, risks, and details of designing a world-class business platform.
Great B2B eCommerce websites have integrated back-office systems with their front-office solution

Back-Office Core Features Build Business Reliability

It’s not possible to build a great B2B eCommerce website unless back-office systems integrate or synchronize with front-office. These accounting and monitoring functions in B2B companies are often less robust than those used in retail industries because there are fewer people and customers to manage.

However, customizations and full synchronization with front-end features boost overall sales and business efficiency, allow customers to access relevant account information, promote marketing and optimize collaboration with third-party and custom-developed management applications.

Managing business associate relationships is a front-office job, but the information often affects back-office management across the organization regardless of whether a B2B company has limited back-office infrastructure or a huge retail and wholesale operation.

B2B eCommerce Back-office Core Features Build Business Reliability

Depending on a company’s specific needs, custom integrations of core back-office features allow ERP, management apps and marketing efforts synchronize through a sophisticated API layer to streamline efficiency and provide customized marketing and customer relationship management duties in the digital environment. Organizations that have limited back-office software can add the capabilities that larger, enterprise-level clients use, and larger clients can fine-tune their operations for integrating marketing, proprietary apps and even more automation into their operations.

Customizing core software features provides these business efficiencies:

  • Managing complex supply chains for multiple products and in-house supplies
  • Seamlessly synchronizing information across multiple channels including ERP and CRM software, marketing applications, accounting systems, B2B inventory management, POS systems and call centers
  • Speeding internal and external authorizations
  • Allowing customers to access, download and pay B2B invoices or interact directly with suppliers to negotiate bulk prices, check availability and research supply chain details
  • Optimizing price quotes for large or custom orders
  • Using information from product configurators to order supplies and authorize production and packaging
  • Analyzing front-end information to segment customers and establish a lifetime value to each buying partner
  • Handling credit card companies and other types of payment accounts
  • Generating packing slips, shipping labels, backorder lists and real-time inventory counts
  • Automatically assigning expenses against revenue such as commissions and consulting fees
  • Reducing duplicated work by forwarding information to all departments and applications

The core back-office features provide these benefits and many more based on the type of eCommerce business, industry, targeted customers and geographic range of the business.

Without back-office integration and customization, any business faces extra work daily just to process the same transactions that automation can handle instantly. A clear example is needing to split sales information and enter separate figures in different databases. Depending on the level of online sales, this benefit of customizing sales entries is invaluable.

Tailor your solution to the business needs of today and the needs of tomorrow

Customization is Key

If a business is a startup company or an operation with little business infrastructure, an eCommerce software product might suffice for handling today’s needs. However, even the most basic operations may find that their needs evolve dramatically in just a couple of years and will discover that a more robust platform is needed.

About 99 percent of B2B companies don’t fit that simple business model, however, because they need complex integrations such as custom workflows, customer analysis, segmentation and personalization, multi-tiered pricing, multiple currency conversions, expanded payment options, expanded shipping and handling features, custom user interfaces and user experiences, drop-shipping capabilities and special ERP and CRM customization needs.

A B2B platform, as opposed to a software product, adjusts software to fit the business and automate operations. Platforms are built in modular fashion from “building blocks” that can be configured in multiple ways to handle business today and rearranged to meet new challenges and business opportunities. A robust API is the engine that provides access to all the endpoints of functions and features within the platform that transfer data throughout the system.

This layer is used to integrate with applications, open-source software, sources of business intelligence, offsite databases and internal operating systems to customize sales reports, user experiences, responsive design, special products and pricing features and hundreds of other business applications.

Account Management Features

Account management includes financial accounting of every sale, operating expense, commission, supplies for goods and supplies for the business. Many B2B companies operate with QuickBooks, QuickBooks Enterprise or Excel spreadsheets, and others use ERP software that’s divided into front- and back-office components.

Most ERP software integrates automatically with financial accounting systems in the back-office, but customers with less sophisticated software can still use financial data in extraordinary ways to manage their inventories, fulfill orders more efficiently, ship orders faster, run automatic credit checks on new clients and analyze their businesses to uncover expanded business opportunities.

Analyzing Back-Office Needs

It’s important to analyze back-office applications needs before customizing any software because there are many B2B business models with special needs such as Internet-only sales organizations that only need one-way integration and companies with brick-and-mortar and online sales, which require two-way integration. An example of the special needs of a company that offers brick-and-mortar sales might be the imperative of keeping the store stocked for local customers.

Customization can establish the parameters of what’s available online and what’s not in real-time or when to override the formula to satisfy a valued customer. Regardless of business model, B2B back-office core features fall into four necessary functions: account management, purchase history, B2B invoicing, and sales reporting.

The incredible array of business applications that these basic functions support include marketing, CRM, vendor management, Human Resources departments, reputation management, risk management, reward and incentive strategies, physical operations, payroll operations and many others.

ERP and CRM Systems

Regardless of system software, customizing an online B2B eCommerce operation generates many challenges to ensure that shipping, product information, real-time inventory counts and customer-specific pricing information are always available to customers and staff, regardless of which mobile device they use, while preventing unauthorized access and data breaches. Large companies even face internal disconnects and barriers that customizing software eliminates.

Companies can generate reports and manipulate data in custom ways to track and monitor sales by any benchmarks to address areas of concern, find new market opportunities, manage specific projects, improve financial compliance and drive improvements. Custom features include enhancing customer service by tracking billable data and relationships and automating core analyses of order-to-fulfillment, lead-to-data and B2B procurement-to-payment processes.

Payroll and HR Management

Many companies use outside vendors or separate software to manage payroll and/or HR to simplify and error-proof tax- and report-filing processes. Some companies hire temporary workers, consultants, independent contractors or outside staffing agencies, but these de facto staff members must also be managed, and be able to access their employment records and relationship histories with the company. Customizations allow such features as self-management of records and onboarding to facilitate better HR management.

Custom Cloud Integrations

Integrating with cloud technology changes the way that many B2B companies operate by eliminating the need for back-ups and allowing stakeholders to access information from any authorized device or portal 24/7/365. B2B companies with customized core features can automatically update cloud storage and take advantage of the concept of only needing to enter financial information once.

Managing Employees and Resources

Custom core back-office features can address complex workflow and project management needs such as quality control, performance issues, analyzing digital processes for their workforce activities and cost-value profiles and tracking worker activities physically and online to allocate resources more efficiently. Administration becomes simpler when supervising strategies are assigned and monitored through mandatory checklists, self-service functions and other efficiencies.


Accurate Reporting Facilitates The Making of Data-Driven Decisions

Sales Reporting

Customizing sales-reporting figures of B2B businesses drives leads, product development, inventory management and less obvious benefits like better relationship and customer management. Synchronizing information from social media, business trends, product reviews and carefully curated sales figures provides these benefits for B2B eCommerce companies:

  • Using custom dashboards and managing access to empower customers, associates and business stakeholders
  • Staying updated throughout the company with custom business forecasting reports, both internally and externally generated
  • Tracking sales team performances
  • Generating leads from buyer behavior
  • Qualifying prospects automatically and obtaining critical sales information such as determining the names and contact information of key decision-makers, how to get around sales-call blockades, discovering which competitors buyers use and finding BI on their current product lines and marketing strategies
  • Analyzing key metrics information from any device and location
  • Studying Web-based resources and social media to track competitors
  • Managing customer service more efficiently and proactively
  • Following sales prospects through the buying process
Using Vistor Data & Automation to Empower your Sales Team

Generating Sales and Leads

Generating Sales and Leads

Custom core reporting features allow B2B teams to adjust marketing strategies, initiate content campaigns to boost sales and address buyer concerns, send automatic marketing messages based on customer ordering histories and track website visitors through widgets or built-in software features. Each visitor to a B2B website provides valuable information even if the person quickly leaves. That might mean someone came to the site by accident or an inappropriate link or that the visitor didn’t like what he or she saw. Tracking visitors can help companies adjust their on-page and off-page content creation and website design or provide detailed information about that prospect as a sales lead for the staff.

Making managing complex inventory and ordering needs simple

Managing Purchases

B2B companies that sell extensive products, represent manufacturers and sell items at both physical locations and online will need more complex B2B inventory management software. Core back-office features usually update availability data but seldom manage complexities such as keeping the showroom stocked, answering customer questions about the supply chain and collating materials used in manufacturing or assembling products to take advantage of bulk ordering discounts and customizing or building products for customers.

B2B companies can ignite sales by using product collaborators, but this often generates problems for the back-office staff such as pricing special orders, getting approvals from various stakeholders, ordering products and materials or locating new vendors.

Managing Purchases

Supply Chain Management

Special features allow managers to compare POS intelligence, BI, vendor prices and options, supply chain logistics and customs-clearance needs. Companies with physical-location sales or different websites can compare reports, inventory, supply chain characteristics that affect customer buying decisions and other metrics. Custom supply chain management tools include container management, landing costs, warehousing strategies, logistics and storing options when shipments are idle, managing distributors and customs duties and many other B2B needs.

Electronic Discovery

Employee activity might occasionally be monitored by law enforcement or staff to guarantee regulatory compliance and ethical behavior, find evidence and track data breaches to their source for HIPAA compliance. Security is a big concern for B2B companies, and having core tracking tools for eDiscovery complies with regulatory agency guidelines, strengthens internal security and provides electronic trails for evidence in criminal proceedings.

Maximizing Profitability

The key area of concern for any B2B company is profitability, and managing inventory, reducing theft and waste, getting better prices for products and materials and negotiating better deals are key ways to maximize profits. Custom management for business purchases can include automatic profit projections broken down by product, materials, vendors, suppliers and other benchmarks to enable better control of costs. Another key area of profitability where customizations are important is covered in the next section on invoice management and accounts receivable.

Reduce human error and improve all accounts receivable through automation

Invoicing and Accounts Receivable

Managing all accounts receivable and invoices through automation and back-office software features frees time for staff, prevents disputes proactively by documenting every charge that’s billed to clients and generates big returns on the development investment in as little as two months. Companies can reallocate resources away from collections activities and focus them on value-added tasks. Just a few of the possibilities of customizing office software features include the following areas:

  • Customer Access Providing customer access to past invoices, price quotations, ordering histories and product features improves customer satisfaction.
  • Price Quotes and Custom Prices Thousands of price quotes, custom prices, pricing tiers and incentives and discounts can create a vast body of applicable material to match to each customer. If customers call or order online, they’ll be upset if they don’t get the prices they were promised without contacting someone in customer service. Quotes can easily be lost or misplaced, which could easily be a deal-breaker for a customer. A special features can create a searchable database for pricing tiers, price quotations and estimates.
  • Instant Invoicing The right customizations enable instant, tailored invoice-generation for customers that include custom quotations, pricing and any applicable discounts. Customers can manage their invoices and ordering with custom reports or even from a dashboard, which leads to faster payments, fewer defaults and better cash flow and higher profits.
  • Collections Reports can monitor whether each customer has paid, how much is still owed and payment histories so that staff can forecast payment problems and initiate collection efforts. Automatic reminders and emails can be sent at certain times, or staff involvement can be triggered at different times for each customer based on special criteria.
  • Tax Reports Customizable tax reports not only benefit a B2B company but also provide a valuable service to customers.
  • Flexible Revenue Scheduling In some cases, it might be beneficial to schedule regular and customized B2B payments for sales that have unusual billing requirements. Companies might not want to invoice some of their better clients immediately to delay taxes for the current tax year and other reasons.

Other statistics that favor B2B development include that businesses with 401 to 1,000 pages get six times more leads from their sites than businesses with only 51 to 100 pages. Leads developed through SEO efforts — including inbound marketing — have 14.6-percent conversion rates versus a 1.7-percent close rate for print advertising and direct mail.

Clarity Ventures proudly offers this guide as a starting point for decision-makers who have questions about building a B2B eCommerce platform, adding a business component to a retail operation or upgrading their website capabilities. Our team can help to guide you even further by working with your in-house development team, providing planning tools and templates and working with your stakeholders to develop a world-class B2B eCommerce platform. Read over the guide to get a sense of our company and our experience in developing custom platforms, and call or contact us anytime for answers to questions, further explanations or a consultation or price quote.

One interesting group of statistics regards the importance of connecting through other channels and developing a mobile marketing strategy. About 47 percent of Facebook users or 674 million people connect with the social site on a mobile phone at least once each day. Many of these people use voice-activated searches, which creates a new way of structuring keywords that’s more natural and less structured. That’s a big trend for B2B marketers to consider.

Even though mobile phones are the popular choice for searches today, that could easily change over the next few years because there will be more Internet-enabled devices such as smart appliances so that the total of all phones, laptops and PCs will only account for 25 percent of Internet connections. It’s easy to see why B2B companies need to monitor trends and adapt to evolving marketplace conditions.

Never risk Under or Over billing Again

Tracking Billables and Expenses

Tracking Billables and Expenses

B2B eCommerce companies typically maintain hundreds if not thousands of partner-client relationships, and tracking billable hours, services and expenses manually proves time-consuming and prone to accidental and deliberate errors. Software customizations can automatically track time, costs, supplies and sales for each customer and their stakeholders, generate custom expense reports, provide taxable and nontaxable breakdowns of purchases and work with all types of billing models. Companies never need to risk under- or over-billing because timesheets aren’t handy or staff members inflate their own time and expenses, which could cause the business to lose good customers.

Automate Complex Decision-Making & Workflows

Integrating Third-Party Add-Ons and Apps

Regardless of the back-office needs, companies often want to integrate custom apps to manage back-office applications. Integrating these apps into the API layer of eCommerce software can automate complex decision-making, simplify access to relevant information, target specific cost-reduction strategies and integrate seamlessly with existing ERP software.

Back-end apps can reduce service calls, educate customers, run promotions, deliver customer information, generate sales leads from existing data, track shipments and process product returns.

You might not realize just how valuable your back-office system

Tips on Back-Office Core Customizations

You might not realize just how valuable your back-office system is for achieving your B2B marketing, sales and management objectives. At Clarity Ventures, our teams work with your programmers to optimize your eCommerce marketing at every level, which includes back-office integrations and customizations even if you use QuickBooks or Excel spreadsheets for inventory and financial reporting.

If you have an ERP system, we can fix any bugs or integration problems you’re having and recommend new custom features that will save time and money, optimize marketing efforts and increase customer loyalty. Call or contact B2B eCommerce & Integrations for a consultation or a price quote for a simple fix or major overhaul.

Tips on Back-Office Core Customizations from B2B eCommerce and Integrations
Creating intuitive UX can address user expectations.

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