Just as consumers have become reliant on the Internet and their mobile devices to research, compare and buy products, so have business-to-business customers.
In fact, the demand for B2B e-commerce is twice the size of business-to-consumer retail.
Despite this, though, for many HVAC market and sheet metal works wholesalers, bringing their businesses to the digital realm remains an uphill battle. Complex integration requirements, limited technical know-how and a lack of e-commerce software platforms designed for a B2B sales environment, all contribute to the problem.
But the truth remains — we live in a digital world and delivering a superior online buying experience to your B2B customers is no longer just a nice-to-have option, but a prerequisite to stay competitive.
Whether you’re just starting to think about an e-commerce site or have already embarked upon the journey, choosing the right platform is essential to ensuring an efficient implementation and that your site can meet your long-term objectives. When shopping for e-commerce software products, there are a few items to consider:
Deep integration: Where a lot of e-commerce software products fall short is that they are predominantly designed for consumer-oriented retail environments, which don’t require the complex integration that B2B environments do, such as real-time access to individual pricing and product inventory and connectivity to payment gateways. So finding an e-commerce platform that will provide seamless integration with your ERP system and back-end repositories is key. Not only will it allow you to deliver an exceptional online shopping experience, it will also help you keep your implementation budget and schedule on track.
Good content management system: First, you definitely want to make sure that the CMS will allow you to customize the look and feel of your HVAC sales website to your exact specifications. It should also offer a built-in product information management, so that you can easily manage your product content, spec sheets, images and other long-tail content.
Committed and knowledgeable support team: As with any technology project, when building your e-commerce HVAC market website, you’ll probably experience some setbacks along the way. That’s why you want to be confident that the support team behind the platform you choose is knowledgeable and committed to your success. And keep in mind that once the site is live, you’ll also need the right support team to help ensure that the platform can meet your company’s evolving needs.
Mobile and tablet optimization:With more customers using their mobile devices to make purchases, an e-commerce platform that supports mobile browsing is an absolute necessity. Moreover, Google recently changed its algorithm to favor sites that are mobile-friendly, another important reason to make sure that your platform supports responsive design.
Insightful analytics:Understanding your customers’ online browsing and behaviors on your site will allow you to further personalize and optimize it, enabling you to drive more traffic and sales. When choosing your platform, look for one that delivers the back-end reporting you need to get a complete picture of how your site is working for or against you.
Intuitive search and navigation: By building your site on a platform that provides powerful search and filter functions, your customers will be able to navigate through your site with ease to quickly find what they’re looking for.
Flexible pricing: When it comes to pricing, every business has its own specific requirements. Going with a software provider that can offer you customized pricing will save you money in the long run versus one that has a one-size-fits-all pricing model.
Your e-commerce platform is a big decision and the vetting process is, no doubt, confusing. But, if you find a platform that meets these core requirements, you should feel confident that you’ve chosen wisely.