BigCommerce B2B Edition: Expanding B2B Functionality

As the CEO of an eCommerce Development company, I have been building digital commerce solutions for companies for more than 20 years, with a niche in serving the B2B space.  We work often with enterprise level software platforms, but for some companies, the cost of enterprise level platforms is prohibitive. We believe in providing B2B companies with the functionality they need, and we are constantly on the lookout for platforms that will best serve the manufacturers and distributors we are talking to.

There is a desire for lower cost of entry options, but for a long time, cloud-hosted ecommerce platforms didn’t meet the needs of the B2B market, and most still don’t. Brilliance Business Solutions decided to become a BigCommerce partner back in 2017 because they offered stronger B2B capabilities than other multi-tenant SaaS platforms and they have continued to improve their B2B capabilities. 

We are excited for the new BigCommerce B2B Edition, which will incorporate and expand on their B2B functionality. There two general categories that make B2B ecommerce different are the levels of Product Complexity as well as Pricing Complexity. Here are some of the tools that BigCommerce and the new B2B Edition have for dealing with these challenges.

Product Complexity

When selling to other businesses, many companies have large numbers of products, and often have different variations to choose from, like length, color, thickness, etc.  For a drill, an attribute or a variation might be “cutting tool type.”  For a work glove, attributes might include both size and material.

A few simple choices (like size and color) have become common in B2C commerce as well, but B2B products can have several options and layers of options and pricing that is dependent on certain choices.  Complex options and dependencies are one reason B2B organizations can be slower to adopt ecommerce, believing that sales people are needed to help customers navigate these choices. 

BigCommerce allows for a higher level of product complexity so B2B companies can give their customers a smooth user experience and the ability to choose exactly what they need.  BigCommerce allows for up to 600 variant SKUs per product and up to 250 option values per product, like swatches, text boxes and file uploads.  (If you have more than 600 variants per product, this is enabled through modifier options.) By comparison, Shopify is limited to 100 variants and only 3 option values per product.

In addition, BigCommerce offers powerful product filtering (also known as faceted or reductive navigation) which enables a user to drill down in search results or on category pages.  BigCommerce allows you to display up to 12 filters on any page, including filtering by Category, Brand, Price, Rating, Free Shipping, Featured Products, In Stock, and byproduct options.  You can also filter by custom fields on BigCommerce Enterprise plans.  Other ecommerce platforms require 3rd party search solutions that cost $500/month or more to achieve the same caliber of search.

The new shared shopping lists feature in the BigCommerce B2B edition is another way for business customers to keep track of the exact products they use, and share them with other individuals in their organization. It’s another way to simplify the process, and allow B2B users to find exactly what they are looking for quickly and easily.

Pricing Complexity

It is common practice in the B2B space to offer different pricing to different customers depending on certain criteria. BigCommerce offers a price list feature that allows you to offer variant-level price overrides based on customer groups.  The price lists can be updated via API to offer automated, efficient updates through ERP integrations.  BigCommerce has a higher API throughput than Shopify and will process updates up to 100 times faster.  Since many B2B merchants have large sets of data to update, BigCommerce’s API throughput enables faster updates from your ERP system.

Speaking of ERP integrations, BigCommerce offers a straightforward path to data integrations through providers in their marketplace.  There is a native integration for Accumatica as well as several Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions that have pre-built connectors for BigCommerce and can connect BigCommerce to a variety of ERP solutions.

If your products require configuration to determine the price, there are many different options for how this can be approached in BigCommerce.  Look first at the extensive controls available in Product Options, and if you need more than what is there, consider tools like ThreeKit or KBMax to enable your customers to visually configure the product and build the product price.

For simple or low volume pricing overrides for customers, you can leverage BigCommerce’s native Draft Order feature.  This enables your store admin to setup an order for a customer and to override pricing, or setup a custom product in their cart and email them a link to complete the order.

If a salesperson needs to provide custom pricing, BigCommerce’s B2B Edition enables sales reps to create a quote. The QuoteNinja app for BigCommerce can also be leveraged to provide even stronger quoting capabilities.

The new B2B edition also has an invoicing portal and the ability to track financial information beyond the online sales.

This level of pricing functionality is key in building a digital commerce experience that can bring B2B processes to the digital space.

Developing on BigCommerce B2B Edition

As a development partner, it’s great to see BigCommerce’s ongoing commitment to improving their B2B functionality and support. Working with someone who is familiar with the platform and experienced in building B2B sites is important in setting your company up for success.

The BigCommerce B2B Edition is a great platform for many companies embarking on eCommerce. But it’s important to know what questions to ask, which tools to prioritize, and how to troubleshoot various challenges along the way.

Check out our B2B Ecommerce Planning Guide for a helpful overview of the process, including an ROI Worksheet.

The most important thing is finding a path for your company to embrace and improve on digital commerce, no matter how complex your products, pricing or sales process.  It can be done! And with platforms like BigCommerce B2B Edition, it’s getting even easier.

Lori McDonald

President & CEO

About

Lori McDonald

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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