B2B businesses have unique challenges when it comes to adding new commerce systems. Often, they have created specialized information technology systems that support their unique business requirements and have endured several waves of technology. In adopting a new practice, it’s necessary to reach a consensus amongst stakeholders which usually generate internal debates, mulling over the incredible number of details that need to be addressed when considering any new enterprise venture. B2B e-commerce initiatives aren’t exempt. In my previous post, we discussed how B2B Stores will be the next big thing in India. You can read about it here.

In this post, I will discuss on what will be the challenges in building a B2B Store.

While most of the process of B2B user is same as a B2C site. Most of the include features like browse, reviews, add to cart and checkout will function similar to a B2C site. However, the majority of the differences happen in back-end technology or processes

1. Advanced Search: As a purchasing manager, I would like to purchase a 50Hz AC Drive. It should be enabled to show me exactly this or any variable drives. It would not help if I’m seeing a 30 Hz or 80Hz Drive. Similarly, I would like to see only AC drive and not others. Thus, a robust and intelligent search engine is needed to purchase my product

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2. Pricing Engine: A dedicated pricing engine which determines the price based on volume of purchase done in a period is the need of the hour. Some open-source frameworks give a volume-tier based discount capabilities, while others do not. Generally pricing also happens on a periodic bases at a consolidated level.

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3. Buyer Roles: While a typical B2C site has just one buyer role, the buyer roles in a B2B can be multiple. One such role is ‘product finder’, who would browse and select the product. The next one is actual buyer with authority to buy while the last one is an approval role who authorizes the purchase. The process steps can be achieved by building a workflow engine.

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4. Buyer Restrictions: Further, there can be a restriction on budget of the buyer and authorizing authority. The hierarchy and restrictions on the sanctioned budgets have to be achieved by building a Rule Engine.

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5. Communication Hub: All communications should be recorded and accessed by concerned authorities. The link to official email is a must.

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6. Financial Hub: A system of analyzing monthly purchases, identifying the sale across each product/product category, calculating the Volume based pricing, sending appropriate invoices, assigning appropriate credit period and collecting payments will be an integral part of this store.

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So, a typical B2B store is an amalgamation of a B2C store and ERP system. While ordinary design shops can build a quick fix B2C store, they would fall short on the capabilities of building some of the above enterprise module. While system integrators (SI) can build ERP modules, but lack the expertise of building a user-friendly consumer facing store. To build such a store, you would need an agency who is good at design, technology and also understand enterprise domain. This is where Kuliza will give an edge over others. To know more about B2B store development and case studies please reach out: subhash.kasturi@kuliza.com.

Mark your calendars for 1st Sep, 2015 as Kuliza will be at the iMedia Summit for an all exclusive workshop ‘How Technology, Design and Product mindset can help retailers create smart e-commerce stores’. Don’t forget to register yourself! Kuliza builds world class digital products for commerce & media centric businesses.