Selecting a commerce platform or completing a platform integration cannot be accomplished using a one-size-fits-all approach. I’ve heard many people say, it doesn’t matter, “eCommerce is eCommerce.” While yes, this is true, the end goal is almost always to grow sales, however, it’s not all the same. After meeting with customer after customer, it is abundantly clear that having a fundamental understanding of the end user is crucial to creating the proper success criteria of your new project.
Where to start
Let’s dig in a little bit to appreciate why this is necessary. Starting at the top – do you focus on business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C)?
If you’re B2B, you likely need some key features that will enable you to easily place orders without wasting too much time typing in data or on the phone. Things like:
- Quick order entry
- Customer groups
- Tiered or group pricing (volume discounts)
- Ability to reorder previous orders
- Different shipping options (truck delivery, bulk shipping, etc.)
- Different payment options (purchase order, terms, etc.)
- Different user groups (admins, customer service, business owner, etc.)
- A platform that supports busy times during business hours 8am -5pm
What about if you’re B2C? You’ll want to focus on making your site as user friendly with easy transactions, since the marketplace is so competitive. You need:
- Easy user experience
- Standard shipping options
- Standard payment options
- Return functionality
- A platform that can support busy times outside of business hours or on weekends when end-users are available to shop (or during the holiday season).
As you can see, even at top level alone, there are a lot of differences in what you need from your commerce platform and ultimately your overall eCommerce solution. The deeper you dive into your customer base, your products, your workflows, your delivery methods, etc., the more you’ll uncover about what your exact needs are.
Other things to consider
Digging in even deeper, you’ll see the user paths being defined. For example:
- Do you only use USPS, UPS or FedEx as delivery options? Or do you need special deliveries? These choices will impact the amount of shipping you’re charged as well as how integrations or delivery schedules are created.
- Do you sell using a standard credit card or PayPal option, or do you have your own credit card and financing systems?
- How do you submit orders? Many B2B companies require quick order entry but others may also use an import process so their end customer can submit a file that includes many orders compiled together. This process creates one order, but basically has the value of many orders, which makes the successful implementation of this feature so much more important.
These are just some of the nuances of conducting your business that will help define the best solution for your user’s needs.
Ultimately, you need to understand the key differences when it comes to B2B/B2C, your business, and your different users to create an experience that your customers will find most valuable.