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The 11 Experiences Every B2B eCommerce Site Must Have

June 13, 2019

by

Rohit Garewal

A B2B Manufacturer or Distributor that is launching their first digital channel has some really difficult questions to answer.  One of the most difficult is selecting which core experiences the eCommerce site will deliver.  

There are some very tangible differences in the technology challenges that manufacturers must solve vs distributors, but the experiences they should deliver are very similar.  Put another way, what is delivered is very similar, but how the experience is achieved is quite different.

Here are 11 must-have experiences that a Company must launch or fast-follow with to provide a relevant B2B customer journey.  Quite often, my firm will use these 11 items as the core “Epics,” aka experiences that are groupings of similar functionality, in an Agile implementation of an eCommerce implementation.  I’ve provided all 11 epics, and then some examples of must-have features.


1. Sign-in/Register: The ability to create an account and login to that account

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Restrict browsing the site based on whether the customer is logged in (dependent on Company-specific business rules)

       ii. Restrict registration based on approval (dependent on Company-specific business rules)

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. 2-factor authorization (sending a PIN to a mobile phone or email)

       ii. Login as another user

      iii. Register within an account hierarchy

2. Account/Profile Management: Giving customers the ability to self-service their accounts

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Reset password

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Allow different users to have different roles and different types of authority on the site

       ii. Pay outstanding invoices

      iii. The ability for a customer to administer the users that can access the site

3. Browse a Catalog: Giving customers the ability to effectively browse your catalog

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Logical taxonomy (strong category structure)

       ii. Filter on product attributes (sometimes known as facets)

      iii. View product images

      iv. View pricing based on account (login)

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Add to quote

       ii. View related products

      iii. View products in a bundle

      iv. Compare products

4. Quote Management: The ability for a customer to create a quote and submit for approval

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Add to a quote

       ii. Save a quote

      iii. Unlimited quote storage

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Share quote

       ii. Request for pricing approval

5. Checkout: The ability for customers to complete a purchase

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Pay by invoice

       ii. Pay by credit card

      iii. Calculate taxes

       iv. Restrict shipping address to pre-approved account addresses

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Purchase approval workflow

       ii. Calculate shipping

      iii. Add promotions

      iv. Add notes to an order

6. Order Management

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. View previous orders

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Re-order previous orders

       ii. View orders of others in the organization

7. Pricing: The ability to show the right price to the right customer

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Be able to set a different price/item/customer

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Be able to provide pricing for configurable or built-to-order SKUs (usually requires a CPQ platform to be in place)

       ii. Be able to set a different price/item/customer/customer tier

      iii. Be able to request additional discounts via quotes

8. Search: The ability to find products

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Type-ahead search (predictive search)

       ii. Synonym-based search (very useful for difficult to spell words)

      iii. Performant search (results in less than 2 seconds)

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Search results based on bestsellers

9. Wish Lists: The ability to save an item to a list

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Have unlimited wishlists

       ii. Name a wishlist

      iii. Move wishlist to cart

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Share a wishlist

10. Site Articles: The ability to view product or brand articles and blogs

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Search articles

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. Seamlessly integrate products and articles

11. Header/Footer: The ability to view consistent information across the top and bottom of an online experience

    a. Some must-have features/stories:

        i. Logo top left

       ii. Mini-cart displaying the number of items in the cart

      iii. Cookie opt-in

    b. Some fast-follow features/stories:

        i. FAQ

       ii. Contact us


This by no means a comprehensive listing of all the functionality that a site must have, but it does provide a comprehensive listing of the experiences that every site must have.  Sign up for our newsletter to continue to receive articles like this directly to your inbox.  The next article will explore the unique technology challenges that Distributors must solve versus Manufacturers.


About the author: Rohit Garewal is a partner in Object Edge, a Commerce Advisory firm, based out of San Francisco CA.  Rohit is a huge believer in the concept that culture eats strategy for lunch, and that success in digital transformation is rooted in cultural transformation as much as a technological one.  Over the past 20 years, Rohit and his firm have been working with Fortune 2000 brands to help deliver both cultural and technological transformations.




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