Determining an online marketplace architecture involves thinking through the comprehensive set of features that will ensure the exact shopping experience you want to create for your customers and partners. Since wholesale trading is more nuanced than retail, it requires specific business functionality (such as bulk ordering and tiered quantity discounts) to ensure a smoother customer experience and, as a result, greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Here is what you’ll need to kick start your B2B wholesale marketplace venture:
- Catalog management with a relevant publishing mechanism in case you decide to allow your suppliers to upload and manage their own catalogs.
To ensure compliance and consistency, you may ask suppliers to upload products on a vendor portal first, where they can be further checked automatically or reviewed manually before becoming available to customers.
- Powerful search functionality with full-text and cross-cluster search, advanced filtering, relevance scoring, auto-complete, and other handy features that will help customers find products quickly.
Allowing customers to search for products by importing files or entering SKUs will further help them on their buying journeys.
- Pricing and organization of tripartite billing including prices shown to customers and any additional charges for suppliers.
Since the payment management will heavily depend on the chosen monetization model, your B2B ecommerce platform needs to have a robust and flexible pricing mechanism that’s able to accommodate different business scenarios and change in accordance with the (new) pricing policies if need be.
Your B2B ecommerce platform also needs to be able to integrate with different payment processing systems to accommodate different payment methods and post-delivery payment processing.
- Order management and reporting.
Since the processing of orders also depends on the chosen business model, the process will vary from one organization to the other. However, what’s crucial is to ensure that both your customers and partners can track information about any active, pending or canceled orders.
Your suppliers will surely appreciate access to advanced order details and analytics (such as real-time order reports) because such reporting gives an opportunity to analyze critical sales metrics and improve performance. This ultimately leads to an increase in sales and higher margins (fees or rakes) for you.
Since bulk discounts and RFQs are common in wholesale, it will be a shame if your B2B ecommerce platform doesn’t have an RFQ functionality or is not integrated with the likes of QMS (Quotation Management Systems).
QMS typically pulls data from various sources and accounts for different criteria, such as inventory levels and customer-specific discounts, and other pricing arrangements, before arriving at a proposed quotation. QMS, through automating the bargaining process, significantly improves your chances of closing a sale and simplifies the work of your sales personnel.
Because of the differences in buyers’ shopping behavior in B2B and B2C, personalization in B2B serves a different purpose. Instead of trying to upsell quickly, the goal is to help customers complete orders as efficiently and error-free as possible. Anything that hinders the customer’s shopping journey like irrelevant recommendations will only put them off over time. On the contrary, suggesting complementary parts or accessories, and substitute products in case the original is not available will increase customer satisfaction. Such suggestions help сustomers assemble orders and do their jobs more efficiently.
Unlike B2C, where an account typically belongs to an individual, in B2B, an account belongs to an organization. A B2B account structure is usually very complex, and implies different types of users with varying levels of access and permissions. Your B2B ecommerce platform needs to allow administrators behind customer accounts to configure approval rules and workflows that suit their organizations.