When starting ecommerce, most of us would turn to the ecommerce community to discover the criteria for choosing the perfect B2B Ecommerce Platform. Knowing such criteria firsthand is the best strategy. However, most of the ecommerce platform vendors already know which capabilities are preferred. And each of them says they are compliant. At this point, the choice becomes even harder. How do you choose if all the solutions are the same good? This article will discover the three points of selecting the perfect platform.   

Important platform capabilities: the factor #1 (most popular) 

Let’s start with the things that will always be important and are usually named as criteria of the perfect ecommerce platform: 

1. Scalability. Seamless and affordable resource growth that allows for faster growth is important. Scalability is defined by the system’s core capabilities. A good scalability level means you can easily extend your catalog or cart capacity during the high season and return it to normal when the sales flow normalizes.   

2. Modularity. All modern platforms aim to offer at least simple modularity. Here, we mean the capability to build separate features in different modules and then use these modules, like LEGO blocks, to build the whole ecommerce platform. The core idea is to make the platform flexible enough to exchange or update modules without affecting other system parts. 

3. Open code. This well-known architecture enables businesses to create any new feature they want on their side without requesting a vendor. With greater flexibility, this characteristic offers less dependency on a vendor, more transparency in code, and easier work for developers. 

4. Headless approach. This means separate frontends and the backend. Headless architecture allows businesses to create multiple stores and websites and connect them all to a single database. The result is omnichannel sales and multiregional strategy, all controlled from one workspace.   

5. API integration capabilities. This criteria is very specific. Old solutions offer all-in-one platforms including their own CRMs, ERPs, etc. In modern reality, businesses often use different tools from different vendors. To keep them all alive and keep using them after the new ecommerce platform is launched, the platform should be able to connect with all of them via API. This is more than just data exchange: this is a seamless replatforming! 

6. Adaptability and updatability. Any modern platform should be adaptable to any situation: flexible solutions are always ready for innovation. Updatability implies the capability of solution parts (modules) to be updated by the vendor seamlessly, even if the business has already made its own configurations or even changed the code. Any update should enhance but not crash the system. 

All these characteristics are essential. But if you request an RFP from several vendors, all of them (most possibly) will tell you they have all of these. Let’s try to look deeper to find out the difference. The criteria listed above are essential for any modern business. But which solutions will 100% fit your business when all vendors claim they are the best? The answer is in the market disruption that defines the need for innovation ASAP.   

Understanding and reducing your risks of disruption: the factor #2 (essential) 

In 2023, B2B ecommerce is shifting primarily due to the increasing threat of disruption. Beyond just sales, companies are vying for market position and customer loyalty. Those who have more digital-savvy competitors need it more. Simply put, the greater your disruption risk is, the more innovation is needed. Let’s find out the signs that your business is at risk and needs faster innovations: 

  1. First, analyze your revenue and platform capabilities: if the digital revenue is less than 10%, it didn’t grow over the last three years, and you haven’t upgraded your solution capabilities during the last 12 months, you definitely need innovation. 
  2. Another alarming sign is your employees who prefer not to talk about the ecommerce platform the company owns with their clients: most possibly, they know the poor sides of it and cannot find anything bright to highlight it for the customer. Even worse, if your team is unaware of how the platform works and what the clientele needs. Today, data collection and analysis are key. If your platform doesn’t provide it, it’s time to replatform. 
  3. Analyzing competitors' behavior is also good: if their narrative includes more and more digital context, they constantly enhance their ecommerce features or even claim they found a new way to make the CX better, that’s a red flag. Try to find out what they are planning: it is possible they replatformed to some greater platform. 
  4. Finally, listen to your customers: if they always speak about new digital startups they work with, ask you if you have particular digital services, or even start buying from marketplaces rather than from you, these are the signs of upcoming disruption. 

Continuous digital innovations can resolve all these problems — this leads you to modern solutions able to provide a high level of innovation at an affordable cost. Once you realize innovation is necessary, another question arises: How much are you ready to pay for your new ecommerce? 

Planning your budget: the factor #3 (future-proofing) 

As we discussed innovation-readiness, it’s time to set the records straight regarding costs. Most businesses choose solutions that offer cheaper implementation and maintenance. But once we realize that the risk of disruption is the most important factor, it’s time to find out that the innovation cost is much more important. 

For example, you can purchase an affordable SaaS platform with many OOTB features and then realize that adding any of the lacking features will cost you a fortune. Another platform is more expensive at the launch, but each innovation saves you a lot of money. 

In the short term, rigid solutions with sets of features and cheap implementation are good for those who do not care about disruption yet. But for those who will probably need innovations every quarter, the initial affordability doesn’t cover all the spending expected in the future. This is why if you feel the risk of disruption, choosing a platform with affordable innovations instead of implementation is a must. 

The core idea of these three principles is the following: before starting with platform choosing and assessing the business criteria, realize if your business is at risk of disruption. The result of your simple analysis (just check the points above) will show you your real needs. And after you choose an innovation-ready platform, it’s time to compare the cost of innovation to make the right choice in the long run. 

Indeed, there are businesses that do not need innovation at all: the disruption pace is very different in different markets. In this case, choosing some old-fashioned OOTB solution can be a better fit until the disruption reaches them.