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Case Studies







  • B2B
  • 13 Jun 2024 · 5 min read

Setting Up for Success: B2B Ecommerce Best Practices

SparkLayer is a tool that enables you to turn your existing online store into a fully featured B2B solution. Today, the SparkLayer team take to the Swanky blog to share some of their expertise in this area, walking through seven B2B ecommerce best practices.

Written By
Guest Blogger

Whether revamping your existing B2B website, expanding your DTC online offering into a hybrid webstore, or taking your wholesale business online for the first time, it’s important to build the foundations of your store on B2B ecommerce best practices.

From preordering to prioritising UX, here are some of the key areas SparkLayer advises you to focus on when building your B2B ecommerce website.

7 B2B ecommerce best practices


1. Integrate with your existing solutions

If you’re using an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or OMS (Order Management System) tool, integration should be one of the first things you consider when setting up your B2B ecommerce store.

Getting your digital groundwork in place can feel overwhelming when you’re new to online selling, but setting up automation early on will make a huge difference when those B2B orders start rolling in. By pulling all your data into your B2B ecommerce platform, you can more easily manage your customer experience and optimise your back office operations. You’ll be able to quickly gain insights into inventory levels, demand, trends, and forecasting.

Ensuring your ecommerce solutions can integrate with legacy systems is especially important. Your wholesale platform provider should be able to suggest new or better tools for you to use should this be necessary. Alternatively, Swanky specialises in building bespoke Shopify integrations to help you connect your backend tooling to your Shopify store.


2. Create a familiar look and feel

You’ve worked hard to create a brand identity and user experience for your DTC website or offline wholesale set-up, so you’ll want your B2B ecommerce platform to replicate that experience and aesthetic.

Even though you’ll be selling at a different volume and price point, keeping your new B2B sales platform consistent with your existing branding will reassure customers that they’re in the right place, helping to build trust. This will give your customers the confidence to share their payment details and process orders using your ecommerce site.

Having an intuitive, familiar experience also means customers can better navigate the buying process and are more likely to convert. Reinventing the ecommerce wheel can offer exciting new UX features, but often leads to high cart-abandonment rates as customers don’t necessarily find what they need or want from your store.


3. Configure pre-orders and backorders

One of the biggest challenges retailers face when first building out their ecommerce platform is inventory management, particularly regarding pre-order/backorder availability. Ecommerce platforms, such as SparkLayer, take the inventory data from your ecommerce store (e.g. Shopify) or ERP (e.g. Brightpearl) and display the same stock at a product level to B2B customers on your site.

You can choose what information you display to your wholesale customers, such as the maximum stock levels you want them to see. You can also set up a range of alerts for your B2B customers, including:

  • ‘low stock’ or ‘last stock’ level messages, to encourage them to place a new order before stocks run out; or
  • ‘back in stock’ messages with restock / stock launch dates at both a product and variant level.

This enhances your customer experience as you’re able to better cater to their needs and generate interest around upcoming products. It can also help you with inventory forecasting, giving you greater visibility over demand levels and timeframes.


4. Enable internal collaboration for B2B customers

No man is an island – and that goes for your customers, too. Most B2B customers have more than one person involved in their buying decisions, which can be tricky for B2B retailers to navigate, especially for those new to ecommerce.

When this process is done offline through Sales Reps (over the phone or door-to-door, for example), it’s typically straightforward to loop the relevant people into the decision-making process. Using an online platform, however, can quickly become complicated – often with just one login for multiple employees within a business to share. Permission-setting and account management can therefore become unnecessarily complex.

Here, B2B ecommerce best practice is to enable your B2B customers to create ‘teams’ with different users (and respective logins). This will empower customers to update and adhere to their best-practice processes when ordering and buying products. You can also set up user permissions to minimise the potential for human error and accurately replicate role seniority and responsibilities.

For example, some team members may have the authority to place orders while others are required to approve them. This fosters a more collaborative, user-centric approach to B2B buying, with teams able to create shopping lists together for rapid repeat ordering. What’s more, company user features optimise both purchasing and account management, enabling the sharing of order history and address books.


5. Establish quantity price breaks

Next on the list of B2B ecommerce best practices is to establish visible price breaks.

Also referred to as ‘quantity pricing’ or ‘tiered pricing’, this feature allows you to offer discounts on products (or product variants) once a certain threshold has been met. For example, the cost of one unit could be £30, but, if a customer buys five units, with the price break discount applied, the cost is only £25.

This can be quickly configured using a CSV price list file or via a price editing tool depending on whether it’s for ad hoc changes or bulk edits. It offers an easy way to boost your AOV (Average Order Value) and can be done on products as well as product variants, giving you increased flexibility and control based on your inventory and forecasts.


6. Creating online product rules

When selling your products to wholesale customers online, you have the option to easily display product rules around quantity or value.

To protect margins, you might want to consider selling in pack-size quantities. When setting up your ecommerce store, you can establish minimum order quantities at a variant level so that you’re never selling products at an unprofitable rate. This saves you from having to split packs or pallets, for example, and leads to better operational efficiency in terms of picking and packing items in the warehouse.

You can also set a minimum order quantity or value at an order level which you wouldn’t offer to your DTC customers. You’re giving significant margin away to your B2B customers, so it’s important to ensure that margin is protected through tools such as minimum order quantities.

Combining variant-level minimum order quantities, or order-level minimum value/quantities, can be a really effective way of protecting that margin, alongside things like pack sizing and quantity-based discounting.


7. Define online payment methods

B2B ecommerce best practice is to offer a range of payment methods, including card payments, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ options, invoicing, and quotes.

There are two main forces at play when it comes to B2B payments. The first is how much trust you as a retailer have in the customer; the second is how flexible the B2B customer needs their payment terms to be. It isn’t uncommon for Net 60, Net 30, or Net 15 payment terms to be offered for B2B customers, though this is often reserved for the most trusted ones.

Defining which payment methods are available to different customer groups can help protect you from risk. Opening up favourable payment methods to customers who are in higher tiers, and have a history of paying on time, can give you faith that you’ll be paid when you need to be.

For customers paying by invoice or account, you’ll need a way for your customer service or accounting team to view and process these, follow up payments, and reconcile. If you’re already using a financial package, you should be able to automatically route these and then manage through your existing workflows. It’s possible to use Shopify itself to send invoices, and there are popular apps such as Sufio that allow you to automate this.

Need help optimising your B2B ecommerce offering?

This is a non-exhaustive list of B2B ecommerce best practices for retailers bringing their wholesale customers online for the first time. To continually improve your online wholesale platform experience, we recommend auditing and iterating your customer experience regularly.

SparkLayer’s solution empowers B2B businesses of all stages and sizes to excel within ecommerce – you can start your free trial today.

As a Shopify Plus agency, Swanky works with SparkLayer to improve B2B ecommerce stores and customer experience at every stage of the B2B buying journey.

If you’d like help setting up or managing your B2B ecommerce store on Shopify, get in touch with Swanky’s team today.


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