Selling online is a great subject to write about as it is constantly changing and evolving. Each month new start-up businesses bring in new ideas. There are lots of opportunities to improve your online business for B2B or B2C.
If you have any questions about eCommerce try our FAQs and Ideas Center or just send us a comment or email.
B2B eCommerce is one of the most rapidly expanding sectors of the online market, with an increasing acceptance and expectation that business procurement can be facilitated seamlessly online. In 2020 we saw a dramatic rise in businesses selling online to consumers as many people went online to get contactless solutions. The same occurred with B2B, many organisations moved to work-from-home strategies and that meant face-to-face sales stopped. Even as we start to move to a more normal business environment the change in strategy is not going away. We also saw some companies moving to a "Direct to Consumer" or D2C model as their traditional channels and resellers limited operations.
Business buyer behaviour has changed, influenced by online experiences as consumers, and the rapid increase of millennials in positions to make or influence purchasing decision. We have seen a more "Mobile First" approach by buyers and consumers alike.
When planning for or improving a B2B eCommerce presence, there are numerous factors to consider and tools needed to position your business for Success.
Many Australian businesses, particularly small businesses, are now placing orders via websites and many are moving away from tradition B2B payment options (such as invoicing and credit terms) for the favourite B2C payment method - the credit card. We are also increasingly seeing the use of alternative payment methods such as buy now pay later being used by B2B buyers allowing short term business financing, as businesses gain experience in these options and they become more comfortable transacting with them. Businesses that aren’t ready to accept online payments will lose market share to competitors offering simpler, easier payment processes.
More than 70% of Australian shoppers will use or even have a preference for purchasing online. These online buyers will take those experiences to all aspects of their life, including the workplace.
Companies selling B2B are being forced to move to a contactless process and need to provide a user experience for business customers that is consistent with expectations, including providing features they have come to expected from their retail experiences like a range of payment and shipping methods, account personalisation and simplified purchasing processes.
Buyers are looking for fast and secure online ordering and payment solutions that can be tailored to their buying process. Providing tools to allow B2B purchasers to manage their orders, shopping lists, and/or quotes puts them in control of their procurement processes allowing for easier approvals and regular and simplified reordering.
Leading from the above is the need to be able to tailor the purchasing process for your B2B accounts, including tailoring pricing and discounts for their specific purchasing needs. Technology to allow the merchant to configure accounts specific pricing lists and provide tailored quotes, often integrated with back office systems, can be the solution. Quotes can be tailored according to set rules to provide error-free pricing that takes into account variables such as quantities, product margins, discounts, customisation, and optional features.
The vast majority of shoppers will immediately turn to Google to search before any other source for product research. Most buyers will now conduct online research before making their purchasing decision. Over 80% of buyers use their smartphone at work and in excess 60% of online purchasing research is now done using mobile devices, so it is essential for B2B eCommerce sites to be responsive for smart phones and tablets.
While the US and others are already accustomed to the likes of Amazon Business and eBay offering specific B2B marketplaces, this trend is just beginning to grow in Australia. More and more B2B businesses are seeking a way to get their products in front of potential purchasers, and the marketing power and search engine dominance of these major marketplaces makes them the perfect tool to develop a presence for your products.
A carefully considered strategy around product placement and availability across platforms like Google Shopping, Amazon and eBay can often be more effective than an equivalent effort on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising like Google Adwords for B2B vendors.
Personalisation has been common in B2C for some time. Companies are now looking to find that same personalisation from their suppliers. Customer accessible secure portals that allows for fast purchases from a pre-defined catalogue are a competitive advantage. These allow management of the business negotiation and buying process by controlling products purchased and also adding in workflow with purchase authorisation.
Like Custom Portals for clients internal sales staff want the benefit that going online can bring. Sales staff, help desk and in-house sales can be completed online in a more streamline process using Operator Forms. By providing a secure access to an online portal orders can be created and managed along with client order history and management levels of authority.
D2C has been a market pivot for many traditional suppliers and distributors. It has enabled traditional B2B only companies to expand their market base by using existing supply chains and logistics. D2C has been seen as a lifesaver for many agri-businesses and primary producers that have been restricted during the COVID crisis. But like other innovations we don't see this changing moving forward.
Businesses need generally to pay based on invoice (although as noted above, the use of credit cards and electronic payments is rising). The user accessing the B2B site to place an order needs to have their credentials verified via a user name and password. This will allow changes in the user experience and information available to access, including tailor pricing and/or catalogues specifically for the registered user.
Every user that has access to the B2B website needs to be assigned certain capabilities like allowed payment methods or special pricing. Customer Groups allow the site owner to manage this tailored experience for each user that can control their actions in the website. Customer Groups are also used for marketing and promotional purposes. A Customer Group might be one company (and its employees) or a group of companies.
In some cases, the business will want the site closed, or pricing hidden, to anyone who does not have credentials to log in to the website. In this case only limited content such as a home page marketing message or simplified product catalogue is seen by the general visitor who might try to access the site.
B2B customers rarely use the recommended retail price (RRP), and may be discouraged from your site if they are shown full retail pricing.
Most B2B systems will have multiple prices for each product with a specific price, discount or markup assigned to a specific customer group. While most people understand the concept of RRP and discounts, it is becoming increasingly common that B2B sites do not deal with RRP at all. The base price is instead set by the manufacturers wholesale price and the price to each customer is based on a "mark-up" or a percentage increase to the base price. B2B systems have to be flexible to handle many different pricing scenarios with both bulk or value-based discounting at a product level.
Many businesses sell internationally and need to be able to present their products in different currencies and languages. Internationally eCommerce is booming with huge growth markets like China and the south east Asian nations looking to Australia for quality products. Allowing your site to be quickly and easily switched between multiple currencies and languages improves the user experience for international buyers, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.
Due to internal procurement processes, most businesses need to get quotes and issue Purchase Orders (POs) before buying a product.
A B2B solution needs to reflect the business processes that most companies use. Once the correct product (or products) have been selected the customer should be able to request a quote online and if acceptable return with a PO and complete the checkout process.
To be effective and seemless, a B2B eCommerce solution has to be able to handle the negotiation electronically and the merchant needs to be able to update and reissue a quote in real time.
The B2B eCommerce solution should also provide all the information necessary for you to properly determine reasonable pricing for your quotes including relevant purchase costs, availability of stock and/or the cost of shipping.
Many businesses and distributors have the products that they sell shipped directly from the manufacturer or distributor warehouse (this has become commonly known as ‘drop shipping’).
The available stock and price might change daily and there may be many different warehouse locations across multiple suppliers. Accuracy in price and availability is essential as often margins can be slim. Updates from data feeds provided by your suppliers need to be automated to update when changes occur to avoid sales which are below cost or unable to be fulfilled.
Just as critical to the success of many B2B systems as the ability to automatically accept data feeds is the ability to create similar data feed files from your B2B system that are sent to the businesses that might resell your products.
There may be some content on the online store that is not open to just anyone accessing the site. This might be access to specific product information or assets or it could be marketing information that is confidential to business partners. B2B sites need the ability to restrict access to content by Customer or Customer Group.
Businesses sell products that might come from many different suppliers but when a company is ordering those online from a B2B website they expect the total order to be fulfilled. In the B2B environment, the system needs to differentiate products from different suppliers that are in the same order. When the order is created the system then creates multiple sub-orders and purchase orders to go to each supplier or warehouse.
If the business running the B2B website is substantial and handling 1000's of orders and maybe 100,000's of products then integration to back office and third party systems is a key factor of success.
Most larger businesses will rely on back office systems like ERP, CRM or accounting systems to manage the business overall, and will have a range of 3rd party suppliers managing everything from logistics to payment automation. The ability for the B2B website to integrate seamlessly is essential to ensure efficient operations.
This also extends to the user experience of your B2B buyers, the ability to build custom functionality and to modify the existing functionality and user experience is essential to engage and convert potential shoppers in much the same way as retail B2C stores. You may also need to manage payments, logistics or commissions on behalf of your resellers and need to tailor the order process and reporting to capture and fulfill those requirements.
B2B websites still need a great user experience and a mobile friendly and responsive design. Business buyers expect the same quality of experinece online as any consume might expect. So when building your B2B website make sure that you get the user expectation and user experience correct. You can find out more about website design at our recent blog.
eCorner can tailor any of our Enterprise packages specifically to your business needs to ensure both your shoppers’ experiences and your back office processes are as seamless and effective as possible.
Of you would like further information please contact eCorner.
The mass hosted environment including Cloudshop Base and the newer Now platforms will be upgraded starting at 3:00 PM AEST Tuesday 6th April.
Most changes will relate to the Now system. However there are some changes to the core technology being used and bug fixes that have been applied to both versions in this upgrade.
The upgrade process will take approximately 4 hours to complete. We recommend that you make no content changes to your website / online store after 3:00 PM on Tuesday 6th April until 8:00 PM AEST.
The login screen is the best way to identify the version as Base and Now have different administration login screens. If you use the following login screen then you are using the Now version.
The new Facebook Business Pixel integration allows you to connect your online shop to your Facebook business page.
This upgrade introduces Customer Groups to the Now platform. These will not be available in all packages. Customer Groups will enable merchants to setup full Business To Business (B2B) capability when linked with Customer Specific Pricing.
You can create customer specific pricing using Customer Groups. This allows the store to setup complex pricing rules that allow full B2B operation.
The logo has moved from Settings to a new editor that allows the manipulation of the logo image and placement within the header. The logo can now be cropped and resized. You can also set to display the logo and shop name or just one or the other.
If the store supports multiple languages, you can now create content in each language and also set the default language.
There are now more Content Elements to allow for more page layout options. The selection of elements has been summarised into groups depending on usage.
You can now create formatted buttons within content to better present call-to-action links.
More options are now available to change colours in content and backgrounds. With that comes a simple colour picker.
As new themes are added the process of selecting and changing themes has been simplified to ensure that the active theme is not accidentally changed.
Web design and user experience can play a significant part in the success and growth of your online business. You need a design that reflects your brand and one that works across a range of platforms, browsers and devices. You might not know it but eCorner has an in-house design team that can work with you to create the ultimate design!
We’ve seen online sales grow significantly over the last 12-18 months as people shift more towards contact-less trading. The largest growth area that we’ve seen is in mobile sales – that is online purchases made by mobile phones and tablets.
The way in which your website displays and functions on mobile devices is extremely important. It should be “responsive” meaning that it will automatically adapt or respond to the type of device (laptop, tablet, mobile phone etc) that is accessing the site and display the appropriate design.
eCorner has some outstanding new design themes that we can tailor to your needs or we can create a custom theme just for your website and online store. You can get a new responsive theme installed from just $1,400.00 or a customised theme from just $2,000.00. eCorner will provide a quote for you based on your initial brief.
Once the new design is installed eCorner will assist to optimise the website and look at key settings and search engines factors. Contact us now for a free consultation and quote.
We’re including some recent design projects to give you an idea of what can be achieved for a very modest investment.
"We have been very happy with our new website. It looks professional and very easy to navigate. Our experience with the customer service at eCorner has been great. They handle things very efficiently and are available for any questions we have. We will be pursuing future web projects with them and highly recommend them to anyone in the market for a professional website."
Anthony Kotarac, Xchange
“eCorner were so easy to deal with. We gave them a brief and their design team did the rest. We’re thrilled with the final result”
Elena Vvedenskaia, Engineers Australia
Over 70% of ecommerce sales now come from mobile devices. But many online store operators still see the desktop as the main view of their website.
Mobile responsiveness refers to how well a website runs on a mobile device with a smaller screen, such as a smartphone. Mobile responsiveness is important for online retail and ecommerce websites as more consumers are searching and buying using their mobile phones. What makes mobile responsiveness possible is the design used on the website.
Design for mobile devices needs to take into account important features to improve usability:
The design and layout of your website will change when viewed on mobile devices and the design elements will be simplified. But the full functionality of the online store needs to be retained.
The website menu allows the consumer visiting the website to browse and find the products that they want to view and buy. So you need to make the process as easy as possible. But the reality is that over 80% of visitors coming to a website on smart phones will use search and not category browse to find what they need. So when transitioning from desktop and tablet view to mobile phone view the category menu will take less landscpe and the search bar should be more focused for visitors.
But with large websites with thousands or categories, browse just may not be practical and so the search capabilities need to be intuitive and fast. Predictive and filtered search results are essential on mobile devices.
Getting a new design for your website and online shop is a easy process but does need your input. eCorner will provide example designs and recommendations based on what best fits your business. Designs mockups are created on a testing version of the website so that it can be reviewed without impacting the production website. When the design is approved we schedule, and agree, a time to update the production website. This typically is a fast process and does not impact the website operation.
eCorner deliver a number of new assets as part of the update and provide additional training and documentation to assist in understanding any custom areas.
Many customers sell internationally, and some jurisdictions are now enforcing the payment of local tax for online sales from other countries. Recently New Zealand made that change
You need to setup a new tax area for the UK and set GST to 20% for that tax area:
The method of making the changes is similar in eCorner NOW and eCorner Cloudshops.
The examples assume that the tax model is GST included and that all products include GST. Check that GST is included in products at:
NOTE: The term “VAT” will not show in the order documents but rather it will be “GST” as per Australian tax requirements.
You can find more information about registering for VAT and requirements at:
At the moment there is no feature that enables UK VAT to be limited based on order value. Once setup as above 20% tax will be applied to all orders. In most cases you can remit the VAT collected to your logistics provider to cover the VAT at the border at time of importation.
Please be advised that eCorner will be operating with restricted hours and support from Monday the 21st of December, through to Monday the 11th January. During that time all servers and systems will continue to be monitored and managed. If you have a technical support issue during that time please email firstname.lastname@example.org and our technicians will prioritise and respond accordingly.
Please note that we will not be making any changes to our systems during this period or commencing any new development projects. Any change requests that we receive, which are not business-critical, will be delayed until we return to normal support operations.
Our technical support team will be working reduced hours over the holiday period however all critical support requests will be investigated and resolved. Please ensure that you email email@example.com or use the online support form - REQUEST SUPPORT.
You can still start a free trial during the holidays, our support elves will create the store and send it to you immediately. The free trial is a fully functional ecommerce website with an integrated online shopping cart using the latest version of our ecommerce platform - eCorner NOW. If you like what you have done in the free trial we can easily change it to a package and you can launch your own online business. You just need to let us know within the 30 day trial period. During the trial you have access to our full technical support services so let us know if you have any questions.
eCorner has recently updated Wagtail Analytics and Reporting to version 4.5. This release has a number of improvements and new features.
We've been working on an updated version of our Shipping Estimator and we're happy to announce that it's ready to be released. It's already been installed and tested on some customer sites in beta mode and will be rolled out across all of our systems shortly. The new version allows for the estimator to be embedded into the product detail page. There is an new tab in the delivery settings to allow features to enabled or disabled.
2020 has been a crazy year and we've seen many changes. The ecommerce market has grown significantly as a result of the restrictions imposed on us by COVID. As we move through the holiday season and into the new year we hope that you all have a positive and exceptional 2021.
eCorner continues to improve and grow our products and services. We will be doing further upgrades to the core capabilities of our eCommerce solution throughout 2021.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from eCorner
While we are still in the influence of COVID19 more people have turned to online stores for everyday purchases. Retailers and wholesalers have both seen a significant drop in face to face business and a dramatic rise on online commerce. There are many people right now thinking of selling online due to the current covid-19 pandemic and the resulting impact on busines. Small to medium sized businessed may have limitations in opening and operation hours for their stores and offices. But online sales operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week all year around. eCorner is trying to help small business with our eCorner Now Platform which is the easiest way to start an online store.
* Xero account needed
** 30 day free trial
** 30 day free trial
|AUD inc GST||eCorner Now Small Business||eCorner Now Retail|
|Order volume/revenue limits||No||No|
|Personal support (phone or email)|
|Number of products||2,000||10,000|
|Product variations (like size & colour)|
|Multi-channel (eBay, Amazon, Facebook)|
|Comparison shopping feeds (e.g. Google Shopping)|
|Wagtail Enhanced Reporting|
|Payment gateways||eWAY, PayPal, Stripe, Afterpay||eWAY, PayPal, Stripe, Afterpay|
NOTE: **Transaction fees may be charged by payment provider.
NOTE: ***Integration with 3rd party systems is included free but you may need to have accounts with the service providers.
"Yeah OK, but there's still 50 days till Christmas so don't hassle me!" Is this what you're thinking? What impact will COVID have on Christmas and the holiday period sales?
Holiday sales normally start to really ramp up as we get closer to Christmas but there are definite peaks along the way. That can mean great opportunities for online retail. It starts early and builds up until we've exhausted our bank accounts in early January. But this year sales have been booming for most online retailers and stock supplies have been a major issue. So planning is more important than ever.
Each stolen record costs retailers A$250 on average in the event of a data breach, but the loses can be much greater. and this figure is on the rise. Financial loss can be compounded by loss of trust which is much harder to recover. Cyber security should therefore be front-and-centre for any business operating on the Internet, and we are regularly asked to advise on how to manage and mitigate the risks of operating online. Covid-19 and ISO has delivered a new focus on this old issue. More people are buying online, some for the first time, and merchants are stretched to support the new activity. Hackers see this as a field day for malicious activity.
eCorner COVID-19 Actions and Information
To our customers and business partners:
We thought it was important to get in touch regarding COVID-19 and shed some light on how we are adapting to these new business conditions. eCorner has already implemented a range of contingency plans to make sure that our software, services and infrastructure will be available in the event of a complete office closure. We’ve already set up Virtual Private Networks and prepared remote access for all of our staff members so that we can continue to operate as normal in the event of a complete office closure.