ECI Software Solutions Comment: Q1 2023

As our industry continues to digitalise, most businesses selling construction products understand the need for evolution, whether modernising processes or implementing new systems, as standing still is not an option.

The same thinking must now be applied to their eCommerce offering. As a business grows, platform limitations become apparent, often demonstrating the need for a more advanced solution. Once the go-to eCommerce platforms for many businesses, Magento and Shopify are among a number of long-standing platforms of choice that are losing their applicability, as they do not offer the complex B2B functionality customers expect in our sector, even after significant development efforts. This is because they were designed and built for retail businesses, but they struggle to meet the demands of the complex B2B environment.

The significant investment of time, expertise, and resources to develop, test, maintain and administer complex eCommerce solutions has created significant hurdles for those trying to add online sales and services to their business proposition.

Moreover, regular security patches and updates often create compatibility issues with 3rd party extensions or custom-built code. System outages, bugs and support cases are frequent, frustrating and costly occurrences, alongside fears of security compromises. Beyond these technical issues, an eCommerce platform’s architecture may simply not be modern enough to meet the needs of today’s market.

Speaking with more digitally mature merchants and suppliers, it’s clear that businesses need a B2B platform that can project all of their offline branch-based services online. This includes customer-specific pricing and catalogues, multi-level user accounts with varying levels of access and permissions, streamlined inventory management for click-and-collect orders, the ability to allocate purchases to cost centres and/or specific jobs to split baskets between delivery and collection, and much more. To meet these needs, a platform must first offer the functionality and then be integrated into the back-office trading systems.

Switching from well-known eCommerce solutions isn’t easy, but it’s an essential step in staying competitive in the digital omnichannel world. The more businesses embrace true B2B eCommerce, the more of the market they will capture.

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