7 Questions to Ask When Building a Magento B2B Ecommerce Store
By David Ephraim, ATAK Interactive President, Development + Operations
Regardless of whether you are building a B2B or a B2C site, you want things to go smoothly; quick within reason and according to plan. That doesn’t mean that there are not unique challenges to B2B software vs B2C. In this post, we’ll go over 7 questions to ask when building a Magento B2B eCommerce store, some B2B specific questions, and even some more generic eCommerce questions. In answering these questions, you’ll be taking the first step to making your B2B eCommerce development project go smoothly.
1. What Does an Ideal B2B eCommerce Operations Day Look Like?
If we are to look at an ideal day for a B2B eCommerce operation, we must look at the roles that are performed during that day. Ideally, and depending on the size of your organization, you will have one or more people in each of these roles. Although different people might vary in their opinion on the must-have functions, the ones below are a good example of what a B2B eCommerce operation needs to be successful.
- Department Manager - This could also be the manager of the whole business. Their job will be to oversee all the operations of the eCommerce department. This person must be able to motivate a team and make all the pieces work together.
- Web Developer - This seems obvious. You can’t have an eCommerce site without someone to develop it. The web developer should have experience not only in eCommerce generally but in the specific technologies that you will be using.
- Website Manager - The web developer’s job is to build the website. From there, the website manager will input all products, make sure the SKUs, pricing, and descriptions are all correct, and handle other non-development related updates to the site.
- IT Technician - Your team cannot function efficiently without a well-oiled technology backbone. The IT manager will make sure that servers stay up, software gets updated, and everyone’s machines are running without issue.
- Warehouse Manager - If you have a physical product, you are going to need someone to handle shipping from the supplier to you and from you to the supplier as well as keep track of inventory.
- Digital Marketing Manager - This job may be split into several. You’ll need someone to handle your digital ad campaigns as well as handle other marketing efforts such as content and email marketing strategies.
- Customer Service Representative - Your customers need someone they can contact if there is a problem. As in any business, the CSR is the first contact that a customer will have with your business.
- Social Media Manager – Businesses rely heavily on social media now. Having a dedicated manager to keep abreast of new social networks, monitor the existing ones for customers reaching out, and post updates will help to grow your company.
- Accountant - Finally, you’ll need someone to handle the books for you.
2. What B2B eCommerce Features Does My Business Need?
All eCommerce sites are not created equally. Nor does every business need every feature available. Deciding which features your specific business will need requires you to ask yourself some questions.
- What essential design features does our store need?
- What essential features do our customers expect?
- What essential features does our fulfillment team need to do their job better?
You probably have a good idea of the features that you need, but you might have less of an idea of what your customers will expect. A good way to get a feel for what your customers may be looking for is to visit the sites of your competitors. What features do they have that stand out? What are they missing that you feel would make the purchasing experience go smoother?
Also, remember that a B2B site isn’t the same as a consumer site. You’ll likely want to have the option to segment your customers into different groups. This will allow you to do things like set different prices and minimum purchase requirements depending on what quantity the customer is purchasing in.
3. What Type of eCommerce Integrations Do I Need to Consider?
One integration that nearly every B2B eCommerce store will need to have is with its enterprise resource planning software. Your ERP is the heart of your business. Its whole purpose is to tie everything together and it can’t do that job without the backbone of your eCommerce operation connected to it. Other than ERP systems, you may have other software vital to your business that you would like your eCommerce solution to connect with. Below is a list of the most common types of software that integrates with eCommerce systems.
- Merchant Account and Payment Gateways
- Shipping Carriers/Providers
- Warehouse Management
- Marketing Platforms (i.e. HubSpot)
- CRM Software (i.e. Salesforce)
- Marketing/Advertisement Analytics
- Business Intelligence Analytics
- Accounting Software
- Live Chat and Chatbots
- Loyalty and Rewards Programs
- Reviews Programs
4. What Level of Custom Development Do I Require for My B2B eCommerce Store?
When you are just starting out, it’s easy to fall victim to scope creep. Scope creep is when you keep adding desired features during the development phase of a project. At best, you’ll end up taking much longer than anticipated to finish the development. At worst, you’ll end up with a bloated mess as a codebase.
In order to avoid scope creep, figure out all the custom development that you’ll need ahead of time. You’ve already looked at the features that you’ll need to get the job done in step 2, and the integrations that you’ll need to take care of in step 3. These are great starts to see if any custom development is needed.
At a minimum, a B2B eCommerce site should have a way to segment customers, as mentioned earlier, as well as order management rules, a variety of payment options and terms, and a way to personalize the experience for each customer. Even B2B sites benefit from personalized recommendations, so do not leave them out of your list.
Other than those things, and the features that you’ve decided that you need to have, keep the custom development to a minimum in order to avoid the dreaded scope creep.
5. Will a Magento B2B eCommerce Platform Be Easy to Manage for My Team?
Magento isn’t going to be as easy to just drop someone into with little experience as Shopify would be. At the minimum, you are going to need an experienced developer to build your site with Magento. With that extra bit of difficulty comes a great deal more flexibility, though. Your website and all its features will be limited by what your developer can do more so that what the eCommerce software provides.
After the site is built, there will be some learning curve to using it effectively. In order to maximize your benefits from Magento, you’ll want people who are experienced in all aspects of eCommerce who will have the knowledge to capitalize on the features that the software provides.
6. What Is the Cost of Building and Operating a Magento eCommerce Site?
One of the most pressing concerns for eCommerce store owners is the cost of building, hosting, operating and maintaining a Magento store. The price of a Magento project can vary dramatically, from $10,000 to $125,000, in most cases. The flexibility of Magento 2 means that your costs are ultimately determined by how sophisticated you want to build your site. A basic site will be on the lower end of that estimate, while a highly customized site powered by Magento Enterprise will be toward the upper end.
7. How Long Does It Take to Build a Magento eCommerce Store to My Requirements?
Like cost, time to develop a Magento store can vary wildly. It could be as quick as a 2 weeks, or as long as 2 years. A typical site falls more in the 3-4 month range. The keys to getting your site up quickly have already been discussed. Avoid scope creep. Even if you need a lot of features, plan them ahead so that your team can stay on schedule. Adding new features during development can bring the pace down quickly.
The number of third-party integrations required will also add time to the schedule. Do not allow yourself to get in so much of a hurry that you cut out necessary integrations. The opposite of scope creep is creating something that is so bare-bones it ends up costing money and time in the long run.
Partner with us
So, there you have it. Ask yourself these questions when building your Magento eCommerce store, and you have a much higher chance of success. ATAK Interactive is a full-service digital marketing agency with extensive experience in the building and management of eCommerce websites.Contact us today for information regarding our Magento services. We’ll take great care of you.
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