Best Practices Checklist for B2B eCommerce Development

request a:
FREE CONSULTATION

Developing a B2B eCommerce website becomes easier when planners structure what they want to do ahead of development instead of adding features randomly. To make matters easier, Clarity Ventures, one of B2B eCommerce & Integrations' top business associates and a leading eCommerce developer, compiled the following checklist for expanding business-to-business capabilities to optimize a smooth launch of new capabilities live. The checklist includes the following key tips for planners:

  • Deciding on sales tax collection strategy and sharing the relevant information with the development team
  • Getting information on existing and desired carrier accounts and sharing it with the developers
  • Defining the shipping process comprehensively for both existing and desired abilities
  • Determining customs and duties for each country where sales are made
  • Preparing lists for products, cases of products and other shipping weight dimensional information
  • Registering merchant accounts and configuring them for B2B sales
  • Choosing the right PCI DSS validation process for the company
  • Following the PCI DSS website's guide to get certified
  • Setting up automatic auditing needs for an effective eCommerce platform
  • Gathering content materials and variations for each customer, partner and marketing application including product descriptions, content and website iterations for specific profiles, images, product demos, images and videos
  • Executing an audit of customers and their personalized content needs
  • Optimizing current metadata to align coding with the latest SEO trends and algorithms established by Google and other search engines
  • Coding each new kind of content, feature, image, video and application with the latest metadata best practices for SEO
  • Creating a spreadsheet that tracks all existing and desired pages and features and the pages, features and third-party applications to which they will connect
  • Deciding which information on accounts and customer stakeholders to keep and which to revise for greater access, better security and greater access on more channels
  • Defining default prices, customer-specific prices, differential pricing incentives, pricing tiers and prices for business partner partners and close associates
  • Defining in-house account credit rules and criteria
  • Developing inventory management rules and other management-capability wishlists

 

Relevancies to Consider for Each Item on the Checklist

There are certain options to keep in mind for each item in the checklist. In general, B2B eCommerce companies can delegate many of these research and planning activities to staff members, consultants and IT teams to accelerate the development process.


1. Sales Tax

Sales or use taxes might apply if a B2B company sells business supplies in the following situations: sales of these items in states where the company has a physical location, employees who work there or states where the company owns intangible property. Businesses might be required to register and remit taxes, or alternatively, to remit use taxes in states where they don't operate according to each state's rules. Research is needed to automate sales tax and use collections where applicable and to maintain resale certificates and allowable products that are nontaxable for companies that resell goods.


2. Carrier Accounts

Offering customers multiple carrier options within the website is a critical factor in B2B success because 61 percent of customers abandon sales when shipping costs exceed their budgets or reduce profits.[1] Unlike B2C companies, B2B eCommerce platforms must offer their customers expanded carriers and shipping options including researching and applying unexpected shipping charges for customs duties and other variables. Drop-shipping and split-shipping are common, and shippers can vary by location. When changing or launching a website, it's important to review shipping options and decide what's needed for a robust platform.


3. Shipping Process

The shipping process for B2B orders can be enormously complex and involve multiple factors such as filing paperwork for customs approval, arranging split-shipping and drop-shipping, handling carrier changes for better getting better costs, managing the supply chain, optimizing faster deliveries and providing customers with desired use-friendly shipping integrations for calculating costs. Planners need to define their existing processes involved in shipping products and providing customer-friendly tools and to define any new features that they want to incorporate. Shipping is integral to eCommerce, so it's better to incorporate new shipping capabilities during development than trying to add them later, which increases costs and generates integration difficulties.

4. Customs and Duties

Handling customs and duties can prove incredibly complex, so developers need data for each country where products will be sold to build automatic integrations that calculate customs, duties and foreign taxes, which vary tremendously. Integrating taxes, customs and duties calculations into an eCommerce website provides a better customer experience that saves staff time for calculating these manually, but research is needed for all the jurisdictions where a company sells or at least those areas where sales volumes justify this feature.


5. Compiling Dimension Weight Data

Before an eCommerce website can calculate shipping charges, it must integrate the dimensional weight shipping rules for each of its carrier options. Most wholesale carriers charge by LTL rules, and FedEx. UPS and the USPS charge for packages based on dimensional weight pricing. This means that larger packages might cost more even if the weight is low because the packages take up lots of space on trucks and planes. Thorough research of each carrier and the dimensional weight data of single products, case packages and pallet of products is necessary.


6. Merchant Accounts

Setting up merchant accounts to accept payments is necessary in eCommerce but different for B2B companies. It's possible that will choose third-party payment processors, direct processing abilities with credit card processors or multiple payment options. Setting up these accounts is an essential B2B feature if companies want to offer their customers more ways to pay. Information makes it possible for developers to design and install virtual terminals, add real-time payment gateways to existing merchant accounts and implement new merchant accounts with Level 3 data integration and secure storage of financial information that satisfies company security objectives and PCI DSS compliance rules while enabling storage of financial information for repeat orders and recurring transactions.

4. Customs and Duties

Handling customs and duties can prove incredibly complex, so developers need data for each country where products will be sold to build automatic integrations that calculate customs, duties and foreign taxes, which vary tremendously. Integrating taxes, customs and duties calculations into an eCommerce website provides a better customer experience that saves staff time for calculating these manually, but research is needed for all the jurisdictions where a company sells or at least those areas where sales volumes justify this feature.


5. Compiling Dimension Weight Data

Before an eCommerce website can calculate shipping charges, it must integrate the dimensional weight shipping rules for each of its carrier options. Most wholesale carriers charge by LTL rules, and FedEx. UPS and the USPS charge for packages based on dimensional weight pricing. This means that larger packages might cost more even if the weight is low because the packages take up lots of space on trucks and planes. Thorough research of each carrier and the dimensional weight data of single products, case packages and pallet of products is necessary.


6. Merchant Accounts

Setting up merchant accounts to accept payments is necessary in eCommerce but different for B2B companies. It's possible that will choose third-party payment processors, direct processing abilities with credit card processors or multiple payment options. Setting up these accounts is an essential B2B feature if companies want to offer their customers more ways to pay. Information makes it possible for developers to design and install virtual terminals, add real-time payment gateways to existing merchant accounts and implement new merchant accounts with Level 3 data integration and secure storage of financial information that satisfies company security objectives and PCI DSS compliance rules while enabling storage of financial information for repeat orders and recurring transactions.

10. Gathering Content Information

Content information needs careful curating to assign particular types of content to established customers, new prospects, customer company stakeholders, secondary decision-makers and products that require steeper educational materials and resources for decision-makers. Some companies might target just one high-volume client while other focus on many customer profiles. Content information includes articles, descriptions, white papers, vendor-supplied materials, images, product demos and outside marketing content. Only 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented and differentiated content strategy, and only 42 percent of them consider their strategies effective.[2]


11. Content Audit

Executing content strategy depends on conducting an audit of available content to see what can be used as-is, what needs fine-tuning what new content needs to be developed to match persuasive information to various customer profiles, targeted prospects and general marketing strategies. Honoring personalized content doesn't just involve the website but should follow customers across multiple channels to deliver a consistent experience to reduce confusion. That's why a content audit is so important in B2B inbound and outbound marketing. Only 51 percent of B2B companies try to align content with their customers, and 47 percent use branded content strategies.[3] These trends are rapidly evolving into SOP, so completing a content audit is critical to assess content for social media, branded apps, website and Web page content automation, blog postings and custom product videos and demonstrations. A content audit will enable a customer to start an order or product research on a mobile device and finish it on the website while receiving the same personalized information across all channels.


12. Existing Metadata

Coding existing metadata should always follow current trends in SEO best practices, so planners need to gather all their existing metadata to ensure that it conforms to current standards. Most development partners will offer this service automatically, so the step usually won't involve much code tweaking by B2B company staff.

13. New Metadata

New metadata must be included for all content applications that target specific customers, and the latest SEO trends should be followed for both specialized and generic onsite and offsite searches.


14. Spreadsheet Organization

Organizing what B2B company want each page, content feature and third-party integration to do and pages that they will connect to are key development goals. It helps to organize all these integrated relationships and connections on a spreadsheet so that developers can create wireframes, design mockups and workflows to accelerate the development process.


15. Account Information Access

Transferring account access information and updating information access are critical for B2B success and smoother transitions when developing new websites and upgrades. Planners should determine what permissions they want to keep and which ones need further work. Customers have multiple decision-makers and stakeholders who need to access key information on multiple channels and devices, so it's important to set account information limits and standards. Some access might involve requiring complex passwords and security protocols while others should be available to any authorized user. It's necessary to define user access levels and security standards for access according to predefined limits.

16. Customer- and Partner-Specific Pricing

Successful B2B companies handle various pricing tiers for their customers, offer special price quotes for large and custom orders, intuitive suggestions and custom searches based on customer profiles and personalization. Dynamic pricing allows prices to register for preconfigured pricing tiers or custom quotes for each customer. Tailoring these prices requires integrating with custom quotation integrations and standard pricing tiers for each type of customer. Business associates, distributors and partners may have different pricing, but their prices should calculate automatically as much as possible. Some new customers might require price incentives to encourage them to do business. Differential pricing might be required in those cases.


17. Credit Rules for In-House Accounts

Determining the rules for granting credit include setting terms for payment, establishing credit limits, authorizing customer stakeholders access to lines of credit, setting dollar limitations to each authorized buyer in a company, assessing interest charges for late payments and other details. B2B companies have to decide whether to relax their rules for new companies to develop long-term relationships or to secure business from companies that have complex purchasing requirements or no obvious need for credit. For example, Wal-Mart typically uses trade credit as a source of capital, which effectively uses its suppliers for increased cash flow more often than borrowing money from banks and eight times the amount that shareholders have in the company.[4] B2B companies choose to comply with Wal-Mart’s practices because it’s the world's largest retailer.


18. Inventory Management Accounts

Building management capabilities affects every aspect of dealing with customers, integrating with third-party associates like distributors and updating inventory figures in real-time based on needs, priorities and other criteria. Inventory management should connect with multiple points in the supply chain to foster faster information on drop-shipping, split-shipping and backordering. Other key features that B2B companies may want for internal management include analyzing customers and prospects that have been retained or lost. Building long-term relationships requires developing greater knowledge of customer behavior for segmentation, so B2B companies need the management tools to gain behavioral insights. Tracking cost efficiencies, fraud and theft are also key abilities for better management. Defining these needs and the connections they must make are essential to designing the right inventory management capabilities and other back-office tools.

Tips from B2B eCommerce & Integrations

Designing an enterprise-level B2B eCommerce platform can overwhelm decision-makers and IT teams, but B2B eCommerce & Integrations’ skilled engineers live, breath and dream code. Our development team has vast experience working with leading eCommerce developers to customize software for your needs. We can provide development tools and tips and templates, work with multiple third-party associates and simplify the planning and development of customizations that create responsive user experiences and better management capabilities while training your team to execute best practices and comply with regulations and security protocols. Contact us today for practical development tips and a consultation on developing a new B2B eCommerce platform or adding eCommerce capabilities to your existing business operations.


 

References:

[1] Kissmetrics.com: The 4 Most Overlooked Factors in Your B2B E-Commerce Success blog.kissmetrics.com/overlooked-factors-in- B2B-ecommerce/

[2] Content Marketing Institute: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Research: Strategy is Key to Effectiveness contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/10/2014- B2B-content-marketing-research/

[3] Smartinsights.com: Creating a B2B Digital Marketing Plan for 2016 www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/digital-strategy-development/creating-a-B2B-marketing-plan-infographic/

[4] Boundless.com: Trade Credit or Accounts Payable www.boundless.com/business/textbooks/boundless-business-textbook/financial-management-19/short-term-financing-117/trade-credit-or-accounts-payable-546-10169/