Wholesalers do need great online platforms to sell their products. Yet it is often hard to choose the best platform among those that are used to create eCommerce websites. The thing is, wholesalers are about selling using a business-to-business model or B2B which is usually less discussed publicly while it is financially more important with the value of the market much bigger than that of retailers who are using a business-to-customer model. However, having a developed eCommerce website is equally necessary for both wholesalers and retailers, and SOFTLOFT is helping with that.
Why Wholesalers Need an eCommerce Platform
Of course, the idea of both business-to-business and business-to-customers models is based on selling to people. In addition, both models are created and run by people, which means that both B2B and B2C need easy and effective online platforms to fuel their sales online. At the same time, it is often difficult to ensure as soon as wholesalers are usually located in the markets that are geographically distant from their customers. Moreover, such markets are often not easy to reach. As an example, many companies in the US have their suppliers located in China or Indonesia. For those countries, it is not easy to access the market of the wholesaler.
eCommerce Platform Helps to Find Customers
As a result, the intermediary of the online platform is very helpful to ensure that the sellers and customers get to contact each other. Thus, the idea of online wholesaler platforms is to provide the means for producers to reach their buyers, aka distributors. With online wholesaling platforms, it is easier to find suitable suppliers, negotiate a price, settle the agreements with just several clicks of the mouse.
eCommerce Platform Helps to Locate Customers
Therefore, the biggest benefit of the wholesaler platform is the ability to locate distributors and have the information about them just at your fingertips. Of course, this boosts the sales and the number of customers because the outreach is greater. As a result, the brand is established quicker on the market and multi-channel sales are implemented. Moreover, with online platforms, wholesalers can collect data about potential customers and thus know more about the target audience.
eCommerce Platform Helps to Evaluate Competitors
In addition, with an online platform, it is easier to evaluate potential competitors and estimate their advantage. Mainly, with the online platforms, producers are going to contact their distributors directly, which ensures direct customer contact and increases the chance for productive feedback which is valuable.
All of these remove many of the additional costs and thus reduce the cost for producers and customers. Last, but not least what is great with the wholesaler platforms is that B2B is getting more affordable when unnecessary costs are eliminated and the ability to sell and contact customers is available round the clock, including holidays that are different in different countries. This increases funding and opportunities for marketing and promotion.
Wholesale Platform Features
Choosing the most suitable B2B eCommerce website is never easy, and you are going to face several dilemmas on the way, such as having too many options to choose from according to the type of customers you have and/or you want to have. Hopefully, the ideas and information provided below are going to help you in making this decision.
To start with, there is a need to note that according to Statista, the B2B segment is bigger than B2C one. This, eCommerce, and going online is vital for all B2B ventures to increase their growth. At the same time, the growth of the B2B wholesalers depends on the effectiveness of the chosen online platform.
As of today, the most anticipated features of the wholesale website platform include but are not limited to:
1. Data synchronization
Many wholesalers have got many channels of distribution. Thus, there are loads of data to deal with. To simplify the process, there is a need to synchronize the data coming from multiple channels, and ideally, the wholesale platform is intended to simplify the process.
All the information from multiple devices and channels, containing data about how shoppers do their research, choose services and products, and contact sales representatives, is important for wholesalers, and its storage is simplified with the use of the wholesaler platforms.
Usually, multi-channel wholesalers have larger sales than their competitors with one sales channel. With the online platform, you are going to be able to check all orders from all channels using your admin panel that is provided with the platform. For some platforms, there is even an app that helps to analyze and control the sales process, and this leads to more effective selling.
2. Third-party integration
To make sales effective, there is a need to have many components to it, and a B2B eCommerce website is only a part of the process. For many other parts, it is important to have pre-sale points like ads, content, and research that are often provided by third-parties.
In addition, many B2B eCommerce websites provide a post-sale experience for their customers, which might be effective not only from the point of view of larger sales but also gathering information about the sales. To be able to manage all of this well, there is a need for your eCommerce B2B website to have some features that require integration with other platforms.
This allows customization for customers, making their shopping experience unique, and also ensures maximum effectiveness for the seller. Thus, integration is a win-win decision, and having a platform that simplifies the process of getting integration done is a great idea to minimize the effort and increase the profit.
3. Content marketing features
Content marketing is important for both B2B and B2C selling because it is aimed at increasing awareness and engaging customers. In addition, SEO and search engines like content, too, and the pages with original web content are ranked higher in results of the search engines. Moreover, the use of keywords is helpful to promote the products to the retailers and customers.
4. Customer support
Communication is always important, but when it comes to sales, it is especially meaningful. Delays in communication between a representative and a customer result in a rapid decrease in sales. As of today, too many B2B companies do not answer their customers within the first five minutes, and this decreases the conversion rate.
Considering the fact that the sales are often made on the basis of the emotional impulse, contacting your customers back in some time may result in them reconsidering the purchase. One of the instantaneous solutions for customer service is online chat. So, it is great when the B2B platform ensures the feature of online chat.
5. Mobile version of B2B eCommerce site
Everyone has a device now, and the idea of having a mobile version of the eCommerce website is no more a bonus, it is a must for the business to have. Having the mobile version embedded in your wholesaler platform is important to minimize the time for the development and make the process of development, management, and sales as effective as possible. Thus, ideally, the wholesaler platform that you are going to choose is going to have a mobile app included.
Top 10 wholesale eCommerce platforms
Sometimes, it is easier to consider the eCommerce platform when you already know what wholesaler platforms are the top ones. Most often, popular eCommerce features you want to have for your business. For example, the top ten wholesale eCommerce platforms are as follows:
Shopify is the best eCommerce platform because it is simple and effective. There are many opportunities that a business can get with Shopify, including but not limited to design and configuration. The thing is, Shopify is the richest online selling platform when it comes to the number of sales features, such as Shopify email, Google Smart Shopping, Facebook Ads, etc.
With Shopify, B2B online stores have the option to update and control every important data easily with a single dashboard. When it comes to customer support, Shopify has got one of the most effective support services operating 24/7.
Thus, the strengths of Shopify include innovative integrated apps, multiple websites from the same backend, custom pricing, multi-channel selling, the main dashboard with all necessary controls, a feature of editing HTML and CSS, flexibility and customization, social media integration, and many others. At the same time, weaknesses include insufficient functionality for rapid growth, the majority of apps are not free, and the price depends on the number of SEO features available.
Thus, Shopify is a great platform for both large and small online stores, providing enough features for B2B businesses. Sometimes, if a wholesaler needs more options and features available, the company may choose to consider Shopify Plus.
2. Magento Commerce
Magento platform has got enough features and scalability for any level of business. Thus, wholesalers are going to find Magento Commerce really useful. However, Magento Commerce is not free as soon as it is a premium version of Magento Open-source. The use of Magento Commerce is going to accelerate your business and enjoy the built-in features of Magento 2. With Magento Commerce, it is easy to develop a website with any design you want.
The strengths of Magento Commerce are in-line editing and powerful content tools that allow managing store information and product data easily and effectively. In addition, editing and adding pages is very quick here, and SEO features are really elaborate to boost conversion rate on mobile & desktop and engage more customers.
Inventory and listing management, as well as fulfillment management, is much easier with Magento Commerce than with any other platform because it is highly flexible and customizable. The weaknesses include the price of the platform and the price for its support. While the platform is elaborate in features and everything, it is relatively expensive. In addition, very large wholesalers might outgrow Magento Commerce features.
Therefore, if your business has already got enough customers to be steadily profitable and growing, Magento Commerce is the best choice for you.
3DCart is an optimal choice of the eCommerce platform for B2B wholesale business with different product types. It has templates designed to fit your business with different products very well with no headache. For more advanced customization, 3Dcart provides enough space. All your files might be edited in HTML and CSS and saved and modified as much as needed.
Strengths of 3DCart include pricing customization in terms that you pay for what you use, and many features for one-click order, target market segmentation, and multiple payment gateways with a lot of features of a mobile-friendly online store. However, with 3DCart, it is difficult to upload products with multiple variations, so some wholesalers might find this platform not that useful.
PrestaShop is an open-source eCommerce platform aimed to help B2B wholesalers to develop their business. The best feature of Prestashop is flexible customization, which helps you to make your store look unique and provide specific features for your business. Also, with Prestashop, it is easy to create products, categories, and values, but it has limited scalability, so it is a good choice for small wholesalers, who are starting their business.
BigCommerce is a leading cloud eCommerce platform, that enables users to deliver API-driven and high-touch experiences. BigCommerce has got great tool plugs and engines, and it enables its users to design and implement their own CMS, DXP, and any custom front-end. The biggest strengths of BigCommerce are the ease of being edited without coding, mobile optimization, and
SEO-friendly URL. At the same time, it is not well-developed for content editing features and is costly when it comes to hosting.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform with a customizable and user-friendly interface. It is built on WordPress, and here come the pros and cons. The biggest strength of WooCommerce is that it enables non-technical users to build their own brand new B2B website.
However, useful extensions for WooCommerce are paid, and the online store built with WooCommerce is not going to be robust without technical elaboration. So, this might work for wholesalers, who start their business and have easily managed inventory and payment. Larger businesses will need to use extensions to get a powerful website.
TradeGecko is a cloud-host B2B eCommerce platform that is designed to help businesses to manage and track their retail inventory. Thus, those wholesalers who have complicated inventory management are going to benefit the most from TradeGecko.
The biggest advantage of TradeGecko is that it is a great tool for wholesalers to sell across multiple channels and manage orders, customers, and products with ease. However, the features of this platform are limited when it comes to payment options and technical support. So, it is a platform for those wholesalers that cannot afford a more expensive commercial platform but need to manage their physical inventory well.
8. Netsuite SuiteCommerce
Netsuite SuiteCommerce is a cloud-based eCommerce platform that includes multi-channel selling capabilities and is aimed at wholesalers operating both in brick and mortar stores and online. The platform connects data from offline stores with a POS system and this helps to manage inventory, orders, marketing, sales, and customer service in one place. Thus, the biggest advantage of the platform is data synchronization of information from multiple channels, while the biggest downside is the lack of automation and limited reporting feature.
OROCommerce is the B2B selling platform that has built-in CRM, and this makes it much easier to determine marketing and sales projections. In addition, this platform includes personalization features, easily managed content and inventory features, and a 360-degree view of customers. However, OROCommerce has limited integrated extensions and might be slow when it comes to operating in the local environment.
X-Cart is one of the most robust B2B wholesale platforms that has a wide range of features, including but not limited to SEO & mobile-friendly designs, 120+ payment methods, a feature of recovering abandoned cart, and more than 150 built-in features in X-Cart Enterprise. Thus, the two strengths of X-Cart are its speed and its richness in features. Unfortunately, X-Cart is not that easy to upgrade and update, is quite expensive compared to other platforms, and is not mobile-friendly.
How to Choose the Best Wholesale Platform
Thus, the best thing is to choose the wholesale platform yourself, considering the unique needs of your specific business. Whether your business is large or small, you are starting your business or you are upscaling it, whether you have complex inventory or several products, these are the factors that impact the choice of the wholesale platform that is necessary and suitable for your business.
Most often, you will want to have a list of the features that are important for the platform to have to enable your business to grow. For example, there are several features that you might want to have certainly present in your wholesale platform discussed below:
A chosen wholesale platform should be flexible enough to follow all the necessary technical trends. Today, technology develops rapidly, and there is a need for the platform to meet the needs for the technical advances, including upgrades for the platform with content and data, etc. Also, there is a need to keep in mind the kind of business that the platform is meant to host. Ideally, you should have the freedom to customize the front and back end according to the needs of your business. In this case, the platform that suits your needs best is going to help you reach new heights.
2. Easy integration
A chosen platform should be able to integrate with many third-party platforms and services.
Make sure that your wholesale platform is going to be a good backbone to the features and services that you need because you are going to need to take care of several aspects of the business, ranging from content to inventory, and many more. Ideally, a chosen platform is expected to balance different features and is able to be integrated with other intermediary platforms. This is going to improve your ability to get detailed customer analysis and management.
A chosen platform should be able to scale along with the business.
Scalability is a feature that is offered by many service providers but it is practically delivered by a few service providers. Therefore, when choosing the platform, make sure that you check several business scenarios. Just think about how you see your business in the next 3 years and check the scalability of the platform up to that level. Ideally, the platform is auto-scalable, as soon as in this case, you are going to have your platform growing along with your business effortlessly.
4. Separate module for customer support
A chosen platform should have a customer support module.
When your business is going to work with customers, you are going to need to send notifications, create customized offers and discounts, and support the customers addressing those. Therefore, when the wholesale platform includes a customer support module, it is easier to handle orders made by your customers.
5. Competitive advantage
A chosen platform should be providing you a competitive advantage over your competitors in business. Ideally, a wholesale platform is aimed to help your business grow over others. This increases the competitive advantage and helps you overgrow your competitors on the market. A smooth user-friendly interface might be just the kind of advantage you want to have over other competitors on the market.
In addition, the wholesale platform should be providing the individual experience for users with high speed of page loading and be mobile responsive running smoothly and quickly in different network conditions, including slow connection.
Anyway, the rule of thumb here is that the wholesale platform should be helping your business grow including development plans years ahead.
Practically, a wholesale business is peaking now, and it is expected to grow in the future, which means that there is space for upscaling and growing. Considering this fact, you have a great chance to have a successful wholesale business online, but there is a need to think about the growth opportunities with your chosen platform.
If you are launching your wholesale business online and need any kind of assistance, text us at SOFTLOFT, we are happy to help you at any step of the way to launching your wholesale business online.