What To Look For In A Wholesale Distribution eCommerce Platform

October 19, 2022
17-minute read
ERP-integrated eCommerce, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Sage
Taylor Medina
What to Look for in a Wholesale Distribution eCommerce Platform

Anyone running a B2B eCommerce store knows that their only limitation is their distribution eCommerce platform. So it’s important to choose one that won’t hold you back and will allow for continuous improvements and developments as well as ever-changing functionality. 

The online space has created a fast-paced environment in which standards are constantly changing and adjusting to make way for growing customer needs and wants. So in order to keep up with the demands, you need to ensure you are using an eCommerce platform that does more than simply not holding you back. You need an eCommerce platform that allows for continuous innovation. These are some of the criteria that you should be looking out for in wholesale eCommerce platforms. 

10 Criteria For Wholesale eCommerce Platforms

Having the best wholesale eCommerce platform is necessary in order to make your B2B business run smoothly and stand the test of time. Here is everything you should be looking out for when choosing your wholesale eCommerce platform. 

1. Multi-channel Data Syncing

If you want to create a well-oiled selling machine, then selling your wholesale products on multiple platforms and channels is the way to go. Buyers don’t simply view a product on your website and make a purchase – instead, they research, read reviews and deliberate their purchase, weighing up all the best options. 

So you want to meet the buyer where they are at, at all times. You want to be able to sell to them on multiple different platforms and through many different channels, which sounds great until you think about how you’re going to keep track of all that data. 

After all, you can’t be over-selling a product to the point where you’re unable to deliver. Because you won’t just be disappointing the buyer and losing out on a sale, you will be losing out on all future sales that could have been made to that buyer. For B2B type transactions, one buyer can be worth a whole lot of money.

So you need a platform that can integrate with other platforms and channels to keep track of all the inventory, in real-time. 

2. Content Marketing Abilities

Content marketing plays an important role in creating brand awareness, and edging potential buyers further down the sales funnel. A Survey by Search Engine Journal has shown that customers will choose to buy from a brand they know and trust, before taking the following into consideration: 

  • Location 
  • Convenience
  • Price
  • Free shipping
  • Reviews

So it’s clear that buyers trust the brand they are making the purchase from far more than any other factor. So in order to make buyers familiar with your brand, you need to be putting out content that ensures that you earn their trust. 

The best way to do this is by regularly creating informational blog posts that would be interesting to your audience and build authority in your niche. Releasing case studies, infographics, and videos also helps to build rapport with your buyers. 

So when you are choosing a wholesale eCommerce platform, you need to ensure that it is capable of hosting a variety of content marketing formats. While most platforms have the capability to host blog content, you want a platform that can effectively host video content but also personalized catalogs and loyalty programs. 

3. Third-Party Integration 

You want a platform that can integrate with other platforms and software so that you can effectively manage each portion of the buyer journey. You want to manage pre-purchase touchpoints such as content, ads, and research as well as post-sale touchpoints like cross-selling, upselling, onboarding, and fulfillment. 

But not all of these interactions are going to happen in your eCommerce store, so in order to have full control over the buyer journey, you need to make use of a platform that is versatile and can integrate with other software and platforms. 

Forbes reported that 71% of customers expect personalization when it comes to their experience with a brand. This means that personalizing the customer journey is no longer really an option, it’s a must-have for wholesale eCommerce stores that want to be successful. 

You want your wholesale distribution eCommerce platform to be able to integrate with other software and platforms in the following ways: 

  • CRM Integration

If you want to monitor and keep track of your incoming leads, then you’ll need to be making use of a platform that can integrate with a CRM platform. While this may require some custom coding, it’s still well worth the effort for the benefits that it offer. 

  • Marketing Automation Integration

Whether you want to make use of retargeting or simply market your products to potential buyers, you will need this process to be automated in order to make an impact. 

  • Web Analytics Integration

If there is one thing the 21st century has taught us, it’s data is king. Scandals like Brexit and the Trump election have made it clear that having access to data can change everything. And while access to your website analytics might not change the projection of an entire country, it certainly can change the projection of your business and help you make informed business decisions. 

  • Accounting Software Integration

Gone are the days when accounts could be handled manually. With eCommerce stores, it’s simply too much data for humans to process so having accounting software integrated with your eCommerce platform is a no-brainer. 

  • Inventory Management System Integration

Nobody wants to let a buyer down, so all of your information needs to be up-to-date at all times. The only realistic way to have real-time inventory updates is to use an integrated inventory management system. 

  • Customer Service Platform Integration

As discussed earlier in this post, creating a personalized experience for your customer is absolutely crucial to client retention. And what better way to do that than with an integrated customer portal where they can manage their own requests and information? 

4. Integrated Client Support

When buyers are looking for support, they want it right now! And unfortunately, buyer demands are only getting steeper and steeper. Harvard did a study that found out some very interesting data on the way buyers are behaving, but it’s not good news for eCommerce stores. 

They found that if a business didn’t get back to them within 5 minutes of logging a support ticket, there was a 400% chance that the business lost the sale. That means that if you aren’t responding to your clients almost instantaneously, you’re losing out on valuable sales. 

While email and phone calls are great ways to get back to a prospective client, there is simply not enough manpower to do this on a large scale. And that’s why so many companies are turning to live chats and chatbots on their website to answer customer queries. Only the most difficult questions are put through for humans to answer. 

Chat bots and live chats aren’t only reserved for B2C businesses. While 64% of B2C clients expect to be able to engage in live chat, 80% of B2B buyers expect the same thing. This means that expectations are even higher in the world of business. 

With so much emphasis on efficient communication, it’s best to ensure your eCommerce platform can support live chat or chat bot functionality. 

5. Catalog Browsing 

Catalog browsing is not the main way that people find what they are looking for on your eCommerce website, but it is completely necessary. Having a drop-down menu with categories and subcategories is useful for two main reasons: 

  1. It helps the buyer to further refine their search – if they are searching for something that could have two different meanings, using these search categories can help them to find exactly what they are looking for. 
  2. For SEO purposes – having links to your main category and subcategory pages helps search engine crawlers (such as Google) to index your pages more quickly and ensures a good user experience because your site is easy to navigate. 

6. Intelligent Search 

Having an easy-to-use, intelligent search function on your website is not just a nice-to-have feature, it’s crucial to the success of your eCommerce website. If buyers can’t find what they are looking for with a simple search, they will very quickly head to a competitor’s site to find what they are looking for. 

Your site search functionality should stick to the following guidelines to ensure it’s providing the best user experience for your buyers: 

  • Your site search should be very visible – there is nothing more frustrating than looking around an eCommerce store, desperately trying to find a search bar. Your search bar should not be hidden at the bottom of the page somewhere, it should be at the top, easily visible so that buyers can make use of it the second they land on your website. 
  • Your site search should be enabled with autocomplete– Keeping visitors on your site is all about UX. So ensure that your site search has the ability to autocomplete. Be the company that can finish the end of your buyer’s sentences and it’s a pairing that could last a lifetime.
  • Make use of metadata – In order to get your products to show up in relevant site searches, you will need to use metadata or tags to ensure your search function knows exactly what those items are, and ALL the possible searches they would need to show up for. These should be added every single time a product is added to the site. 
  • Allow for instant purchase – Add an “add to cart” button to the search results so that if a buyer knows what they are looking for, they don’t have to actually go into the product to make the purchase. Instead, they can add it to their cart right from the search results, and shorten the time to sale. 

You need to make use of a wholesale eCommerce platform that allows you to implement intelligent site search to provide your buyers with the best shopping experience. 

7. Optimized For Mobile

More people are browsing on their mobile devices than using their desktops and mobile traffic is continuing to skyrocket. While in the past, mobile devices were thought of as personal, people are actually making use of work smartphones or making use of dual sim functionality to use their mobile devices for work too. 

You may have been under the assumption that there is less necessity for a B2B to be mobile-friendly, but that is no longer the case. With work-life and personal life becoming increasingly blurred, B2B eCommerce websites need to ensure that they are mobile-friendly.  

Not sure if your eCommerce store is mobile-friendly? You can use Google’s mobile-friendly diagnostic tool to test it out.

8. Varying Payment Methods

In B2B, invoices have always been the way to go in the past. But times are changing, and just because something is tried and tested doesn’t mean it is the only way to do things. Invoicing can work, but it slows down the process because companies now have to process a payment rather than make one instantly.

Many B2B eCommerce stores are switching things up and offering their buyers the opportunity to make instant payments. And there are benefits to this on both sides of the fence. The buyer can receive their products more quickly because they don’t have to wait for an accountant to make a payment, for the payment to be cleared, and then for the products to be sent. 

Instead, with instant payment through a payment gateway, all of that can happen simultaneously, which means the products are in their hands much faster. For the seller, receiving payment instantly is always better and means there is no chance of the buyer changing their mind. Once the payment has gone through the transaction is underway.

But you should also give your buyer multiple payment options, for example, credit card, instant EFT/ACH, or PayPal. This way, the buyer can choose which option is easiest for them. The easier you make it for the buyer, the more likely you are to make the sale. Any hiccups or disruptions along the way can cause the buyer to look elsewhere, so you want to make purchasing from your eCommerce store as seamless as possible. 

When choosing your wholesale eCommerce platform, ensure that it has the functionality to provide multiple payment options to make your clients’ lives easier. 

9. Automated Tax Adjustments For International Purchases

If you truly want to serve a global audience, then it’s crucial to use a platform that allows you to easily customize invoices to do just that. In long and complicated orders, each line item needs to be completely customizable for that particular buyer. 

Why? Shipping needs and country-specific taxes play a crucial role in finding out the final price of an item as well as the entire order, and simply slapping on a new and completely unexpected price tag right at the end is a sure-fire way to lose a potential customer right before the sale is made. 

If your wholesale eCommerce platform is not capable of tackling these tasks, then you are cutting yourself off from what could be a global customer base. 

Each country and even municipality has its very own taxing laws, so you need a website that can not only keep up with those laws but adjust pricing as necessary for that specific buyer. 

But taxes and shipping are not the only pricing that needs to be customized to the buyers needs. Currency should also automatically be adjusted to a buyer’s location. There should also be a dropdown that allows the buyer to select a different location, just in case their location is not the same one as where their company is based (and the currency that is used there). 

10. User-friendly Admin Panel

Of course, we want the user experience to be the best one possible for every buyer that comes to the site. So ensure that the admin panel provides easy navigation and the buyer can find all of the information they need with just the click of a button. 

They shouldn’t need to search through the site or a complicated user sitemap to find what they are looking for. Instead, make sure that your eCommerce platform gives you access to a user-friendly admin panel that allows buyers to access everything they need quickly and efficiently. 

How Can commercebuild Help You With a Distribution eCommerce Platform?

We provide stable, accurate, and always-online B2B eCommerce platforms for Sage X3, Sage 300 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP businesses so you don’t need to worry about all the little extras. Our wholesale eCommerce distribution platforms allow you to: 

  • Meet the demands of your business-to-business (B2B) buyers with a performance-based eCommerce solution built for manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors. 
  • Our plug-and-play webstore builder pulls data directly from Sage X3 & 300 or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP software.
  • Create happy customers by making it easier for them to browse through personalized online catalogs, view custom pricing and promotions, and purchase on demand while accessing real-time inventory levels and fulfillment times.

commercebuild Enables You To Deliver a Personalized Customer Experience

Gone are the days of plain, boring informational sites. Did you know that 75% of B2B product purchases are now made online? Your customers and buyers expect to purchase what they want, when they want—with confidence.

To be a successful manufacturer or wholesaler online, you need an integrated eCommerce solution that provides extensive personalization at the customer level, including one-off pricing, complex inventory logic, multi-location delivery, and secure payment methods. What you need is commercebuild.

commercebuild Helps You To Stand Out From Your Competitors

When you’re competing on the same level playing field of price and quality, the digital buying experience becomes a top factor in B2B buying decisions. With our cloud-based B2B eCommerce platform, you can do that and more. 

We make it easy for your customers and buyers to make a purchase, browse through a personalized online catalog, and access real-time insight into inventory and fulfillment times, contract offerings, and customized pricing.

commercebuild Helps You To Build Better Customer Relationships

Good relationships are integral in the B2B world and commercebuild helps you strengthen those connections with our 24/7 availability and B2B self-service customer portal.

In commercebuild, you can create and assign tailor-made catalogs for clients, complete with flexible, complex pricing structures which are always up-to-date with ERP integration. Your customers have total access to the personalized data in their portal any time (and anywhere) they need it.

These are some of the valuable core features that you can expect from commercebuilds wholesale eCommerce platform: 

  • Omnichannel delivery – Powerful, feature-rich platform with over 200 components, full responsive themes, and mobile support.
  • Customer-Specific Catalog – Categorize items up to 5 levels deep and add powerful product filtering.
  • Product Availability – No more guessing—let your customers know what inventory is in stock and what’s out of stock in an instant.
  • Third-Party App Integration – Custom JS and CSS support offer the ability to embed third-party apps and add-ons.
  • Secure Payment Gateways – Enjoy a wide range of supported payment gateways and payment methods.
  • SEO and Cross-Selling – Don’t just drive more traffic to your website, optimize the entire buying process with automated marketing and sales capabilities.
  • Integrated Shipping – Powerful built-in shipping calculator and integration to popular carriers including FedEx, UPS, USPS, Canada Post, Purolator, and LTL services.
  • Intuitive Product Search – Flexible text searches, dynamic product filters, and structured product filtering tools make it easy to navigate your website.
  • Personalized Product Pricing – Sync all pricing and discounting from your ERP and target a select group of customers with online promotions.

Looking For The Best Wholesale Distribution eCommerce Platforms?

If you want to run a successful B2B eCommerce store, then you need to trust a platform that does it all! Our B2B eCommerce platform ensures a smooth running operation and a seamless experience for your buyers and customers. 

If you are keen to give commercebuild a try, book a demo to get started. We’ve put a lot of work into creating a solution that works for both the seller and the buyers to create an integrated experience your customers will keep coming back for. Ensure you’re utilizing an eCommerce distribution platform that works for your business!

About commercebuild 

commercebuild is the missing piece in transforming your ERP data into a truly personalized eCommerce experience. Flexible and frictionless, our turnkey eCommerce solution delivers 24/7 revenue opportunities to you and your customers. Quick to deploy and easy-to-use, we eliminate the need for middleware between the storefront and ERP data to enable seamless online buying and selling. 

Our solutions can be live in 30-days and offer complete eCommerce capabilities at a price B2B and B2C businesses can afford. 

Drive revenue growth for you, and your customers, while enjoying rapid ROI for both. Go head-to-head with the online retail giants of the world, and win. Experience a solution that integrates with your ERP data and provides automagical cross-sell and upsell opportunities to every customer on your site. 

At the height of ecommerce growth, commercebuild offers scalable, reliable, and robust eCommerce solutions for everyone.

If your business is using Sage 300, Sage X3 or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central ERPs, commercebuild can build a ERP-driven B2B and B2C eCommerce webstore or Customer Portal.

See Our eCommerce Software for the Wholesale Distribution Industry in Action!