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Leveraging Magento’s Flexibility for Better B2B Ecommerce

Magento, especially Magento Enterprise, is known for providing a flexible, cost-effective eCommerce platform. Thanks to this, more and more businesses are considering Magento to power their B2B ecommerce operations.

In the United States, B2B ecommerce is already twice as large as B2C ecommerce. About 10% of all B2B transactions take place online, and that number is steadily increasing every year. B2B suppliers prefer ecommerce due to lower costs. B2B buyers appreciate the self-service, always-on nature of ecommerce.

At Creatuity, we’ve implemented B2B ecommerce sites for many businesses. We’ve found that Magento is the best foundation for B2B. We’re going to share that knowledge with you, but first we’ll cover some B2B ecommerce basics. Then we’ll look at an example of the value Magento has provided for two of our B2B ecommerce clients.

B2B Ecommerce Sales Models

Like B2C ecommerce, B2B ecommerces takes on many forms. The simplest approach is to take your existing B2B product line and make it available online using an ecommerce platform such as Magento.

Besides this basic approach, some companies setup specific B2B sites for large customers or groups of customers. If your B2B business has a division that sells to the government and another that sells to private businesses, you would establish an ecommerce presence specific to each of those groups. This approach allows you to better personalize the user experience on each site, better meeting the unique needs of each group.

One of the most exciting B2B ecommerce sales models is one we’ve seen more manufacturers and other large B2B brands take advantage of this year. This new approach is a hybrid of the other approaches. In the hybrid approach, B2B businesses combine the personalized B2B site for each of the groups they serve with a separate B2C site. This approach allows B2B businesses to use their existing investment into a B2B ecommerce platform to reach consumers directly to increase sales without disrupting their existing B2B channels.

What To Look For in a B2B Ecommerce Platform

When looking for a platform for any of these approaches to B2B ecommerce, there’s a few things you want to make sure it supports:

  • Flexible pricing system, including per-customer and per-customer-group discounts in addition to traditional quantity discounts
  • Ability to segment and personalize the web experience to display the most relevant information and offers to each buyer, including making specific categories visible to selected buyers and groups
  • Ease of integration with 3rd party logistics, warehouse management systems, fulfillment systems, inventory management and ERP platforms
  • Scalability to allow not only for a large product catalog, but also to allow for rapid changes in price and other product data

From our experience implementing many B2B ecommerce sites, Magento is the clear option to meet all of these requirements. In addition to having the technology to meet these requirements, Magento also has a lower cost of ownership than competiting platforms. A recent Forrest Research report gave Magento Enterprise the highest possible score for cost of ownership, scoring significantly better than competing platforms.

You don’t have to take our word for it, however. We have many successful B2B clients using Magento Enterprise, and we’ll highlight two of them for you today.

IT Outlet – Providing 1.7 Million Products via B2B Ecommerce

Creatuity client IT Outlet provides IT hardware to businesses of all sizes via their ecommerce presence powered by Magento Enterprise. Stocking equipment from hundreds of brands means that product pricing and availability changes constantly. Through the power of Magento Enterprise, IT Outlet is able to react to these changes quickly, completely refreshing the stock status and pricing of every single product on a near-constant basis. Magento Enterprise made it easy to integrate with inventory data feeds to ensure that customers and B2B sales reps alike can see at a glance what products are available to ship quickly.

Four Brothers Outdoor Power – Serving B2B and B2C Customers with Magento Enterprise

Four Brothers Outdoor Power has been the best source for lawn services and other outdoor service businesses in the Dallas area to purchase power equipment and supplies since 1978. When they looked to expand to supply equipment to other businesses all across the United States, they chose Magento Enterprise so that they could reach businesses and consumers alike.

Now, thanks to the power of Magento Enterprise, no matter if you’re a homeowner in need of an obscure part for an aging lawn mower or if you’re a landscaping crew in need of 200 new mower blades, you can purchase online from Four Brothers. Creatuity has helped Four Brothers serve their customers through MowPart.com and other B2B and B2C specific sites all running on the same Magento Enterprise installation. By using Magento’s multi-store functionality as well as the powerful segmentation and customer group functionality built into Magento, Four Brothers is able to reach the individual consumer, the retailer who needs to be able to purchase at wholesale pricing and the buyer for a large corporate lawn service all with the same B2B ecommerce platform.

Thanks to Magento’s excellent ability to integrate with eBay and Amazon, Four Brothers is reaching even more consumers and businesses alike on eBay, Amazon and other channels using the same investment into Magento Enterprise that also powers their B2B ecommerce presence. This ability to serve both B2B and B2C markets from the same system is reducing overhead and delivering an incredible return on investment.

Those are just two of the many businesses that Magento Enterprise and Creatuity have teamed up on to provide a better B2B ecommerce experience with a lower cost of ownership and higher return than any of the competing solutions. Please feel free to reach out to us for details on B2B businesses we’ve helped sell online using the power of Magento Enterprise.

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