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The Guide to B2B Ecommerce Replatforming Success

Ensure nothing stands in the way of a successful B2B ecommerce replatforming project.

B2B merchants continue to optimize sales channels, and B2B ecommerce replatforming continues to be an area of investment due to frustrations with legacy platforms. STOP the replatforming game and choose a sustainable approach once and for all.

Digital transformation is necessary, but one-off ecommerce webstore replatform projects are hindering merchants' long-term success. By establishing a long-term digital vision for an organization, a merchant sets a pathway to success. There will always be a need to solve for the complexity of B2B operations. Planning for this at inception allows for B2B ecommerce replatforming to be strategic. Clearly understanding the reasons why a B2B ecommerce replatforming project is required, preparing the business to replatform, selecting a scalable ecommerce platform, and identifying replatforming success are all covered in this guide.

Jump ahead:

Reasons to Replatform Ecommerce

Business goals are often simply stated. Achieve a financial target. Grow a specific business division. Optimize processes to achieve the financial target or growth easier. B2B merchants' reasons to replatform ecommerce strategies should align with business goals. Here are some of the most common ecommerce platform migration drivers for B2B sellers:

Financial growth-driven reasons

  • Improving Collaboration with Partners and Channels
    Increasing sales volume with existing partners and channels is often the benefit of improved collaboration with channels. Collaboration with B2B channels allows merchants a deeper look at the end-customer experience and an opportunity to gain and provide improvements.
  • Improving the Customer Experience
    Many manufacturers and distributors already invested in ecommerce are seeking to replatform ecommerce to a better customer experience. This can be as simple as replacing the ERP system-provided storefront, replatforming to an ecommerce platform that delivers native B2B features, or as advanced as integrating multiple stakeholders' experience in a scope, quote, order, and support process.
  • Serving More Customers: Different Types and High Volumes
    When the revenue-generating customer base is demanding unachievable functionality with an existing B2B ecommerce platform, merchants are forced to adapt. When customers require quoting capabilities, approval workflows, multiple shipment orders, or much simpler capabilities having the right ecommerce platform is critical to delivering the desired experience. B2B ecommerce replatforming justified by customer needs gains leadership support easily.
  • Expanding to New Sales Channels
    Broadening sales opportunities to new channels is a catalyst for exploring B2B ecommerce. Whether tapping into a customer tier that requires a lower touch sales approach or a consolidated offering to a specific customer segment, B2B ecommerce platform migration can be the difference between serving one channel and multiple.
  • Expanding the Product Offering
    When merchants increase the breadth of their product offerings, B2B ecommerce needs to scale. This could mean supporting product types with various attributes not easily configurable in an existing ecommerce platform or providing unique product catalogs for accounts or user profile segments.
  • Reducing Technology Costs
    Replatforming B2B ecommerce to a new platform typically offers more cost-effective solutions for hosting, maintenance, and other technical needs. Additionally, centralizing ecommerce to a single platform to manage all channels means one license cost, unlike the monolithic ecommerce platforms that require multiple licenses to manage numerous channels. A single technology stack also means lower development resource costs with a focus on one platform. Finally, centralized ecommerce management allows a single set of integration points to maintain.

Process optimization-driven reasons

  • Creating Business Process Efficiency
    Replatforming ecommerce can streamline manual tasks and processes that hinder the growth of a business. An ecommerce platform designed specifically for the complexity of B2B ecommerce offers advanced automation features such as approval workflows, inventory management, order fulfillment, and customer quotes, which can save time and resources while increasing productivity. Additionally, a new platform often offers a more intuitive administration console and better scalability options, making it easier to manage and expand the business.
  • Centralizing Existing Disparate Sales Channels
    Centralizing existing disparate sales channels when replatforming to a new B2B ecommerce platform is important because it allows for better visibility and control over the entire sales process. When all sales channels are integrated and centralized, tracking and managing customer interactions, inventory, and orders across all channels is easier for sales and customer service teams. This helps eliminate errors and inconsistencies and ensures customers have a consistent and seamless experience across all channels. Lastly, centralized ecommerce management available through replatforming means a single ecommerce integration point to maintain.
  • Simplifying the Technology Stack
    Distributors and manufacturers seeking to replatform B2B ecommerce are never absent from other technology platforms. Typically a B2B ecommerce platform will integrate into an ERP at a minimum. Other technology stack components may include a CRM platform, a PIM system, and a marketing automation platform. The ecosystem needs to be able to deliver full-service sales and support and self-service functionality. While the customer interacts with the B2B ecommerce platform, multiple business systems play a role in providing a seamless experience.

A merchant’s digital vision culminates these reasons into a strategic direction for the organization. Typically established by leadership, the digital vision is a north star pursued in ongoing digital transformation.

Documentation for an Ecommerce Migration Strategy

Several things must be considered when developing an ecommerce migration strategy, including business needs, customer requirements, resourcing constraints, and, most importantly, the business model(s) being supported. With proper documentation of these elements, the B2B ecommerce replatforming process has reference information when important decisions need to be made.

  1. Understanding the customer: There is no better place to start than with the customer. Creating customer ecommerce requirements is often overlooked as businesses think of themselves first since the investment comes from their budget. That mindset must change to be successful. Customers are the ones purchasing from a B2B ecommerce platform.

    It is easy to overcomplicate customer requirements. Speaking to target customers, not the outliers, is a great way to garner their feedback and requirements. Through focus groups, Zoom meetings, or surveys, merchants can ensure that customer requirement input is captured in a similar format and can be appropriately weighted as requirements are prioritized. Sales teams often offer great insights as well.

  2. Replatforming impact considerations: It's easy to consider the business system integration impacts in B2B ecommerce, including architectural differences between the existing and new platform and multiple sales channels—the success of those integrations is much further reaching. Best practice says that business processes should not be written in support of a tool; instead, a tool should be enacted to support processes. With new tools, resources will be impacted, especially IT capacity, and other business objectives will be impacted.

  3. Document the business model: Outline how revenue is generated. This includes documenting internal business processes through product staging to returned orders (if accepted). When replatforming B2B ecommerce, having documented processes will streamline the configuration and integration step of the B2B ecommerce platform implementation. This detailed understanding of the business model also allows for an in-depth analysis of B2B ecommerce platforms’ capabilities to fit business needs.

Three Steps to B2B Ecommerce Platform Selection

  1. Creating a Short List of B2B Ecommerce Platforms
    There are many sources when creating the list of B2B ecommerce platforms that can fulfill the business’s ecommerce requirements. Below is a list of identification tactics for B2B ecommerce platforms:
    • Speak with B2B ecommerce consultants with practitioner EXPERIENCE ON MULTIPLE ECOMMERCE PLATFORMS. This research tactic is often one of the best at identifying a platform. However, finding a consultant that fits this model and understands specific industry-related requirements can be challenging.
    • If speaking with a system implementor, ensure the platform selection process is encompassing and agnostic. Otherwise, if a business chooses a Salesforce partner, by default, Salesforce will be the platform recommendation, regardless of fit.
    • Check out existing technology stack user groups. All of these business systems will have recommendations regarding B2B ecommerce platforms. A few may even offer native integrations resulting in significant cost savings.
    • B2C ecommerce requirements will NOT work for a B2B ecommerce RFP. An ecommerce RFP developed for B2C use cases will not consider the B2B ecommerce functionality required for success with complex B2B business models. Start with the business model, then align business goals to ecommerce requirements.
  2. Executing a B2B Ecommerce RFP
    The execution of a B2B ecommerce request for proposal (RFP) solidifies the seriousness of the merchant’s goals in an ecommerce strategy. Now that requirements are aligned with business goals and agreed upon across departments, the next step is packaging them into an RFP. As part of the response process from vendors, ensure that native functionality is demonstrated, not just a storefront designed for sales opportunities. Download Znode’s B2B Ecommerce RFP Template.

  3. Selecting the Right Partner
    A B2B ecommerce platform is a business partner. Gone are the times of on-premise management. Make sure the ecommerce platform offers the same level of customer support a system implementor would, with quarterly business reviews and visibility to the product roadmap. The platform provider should be able to share the last 12 months of the roadmap as proof that the company is genuinely invested in the roadmap and can execute against it.

    Choosing the right system implementation partner to support such an ecosystem is also `critical. A partner will act as a sherpa as the organization climbs the digital transformation mountain, guiding teams through each summit to the peak. The right ecommerce partner will be able to uncover opportunities to deliver more value through the appropriate feature prioritization for B2B ecommerce.

Znode’s B2B Ecommerce Replatforming Best Practices

Following this concise list of B2B ecommerce replatforming best practices will aid in achieving success in a replatforming project:

  • Have a digital vision - Before beginning the replatforming process, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of business goals and objectives. Leadership should set a vision for the organization’s digital maturity and direction regardless of the target market or sales channel being pursued. This will help guide the decision-making process and ensure that a new ecommerce platform aligns with the business strategy.
  • Focus on the target business model - While a high-level digital vision will guide the future, merchants must continue to operate their business models. When replatforming ecommerce, whether determining requirements or moderating scope, it is important to weigh decisions with the target business model in mind. Operating a B2C business model in ecommerce is drastically different from the complexity of a B2B ecommerce business model operation. Customers, products, logistics, payments, and more have multiples in B2B ecommerce.
  • Evaluate the gap between the existing platform storefront and the new - Before selecting a new platform, it's vital to assess the current system thoroughly. This will provide an understanding of what's working well, what needs improvement, and what needs to change.
  • Consider scalability - As a business grows, the ecommerce platform needs to grow with it. Make sure the platform chosen is scalable and can support the business as it expands.
  • Focus on delivering value - The ultimate goal of replatforming is to increase the value received by the customer and the business. Make sure the new platform is designed with the customer in mind and that it provides a seamless, convenient, and enjoyable shopping experience, all while addressing the needs of the business.

Benefits of Ecommerce Replatforming: Znode Success Stories

Centralizing Administration: Staples Promotional Products

Staples Promotional Products is the largest promotional products distributor in the United States, with over 300 Fortune-ranked clients. With a rapidly growing B2B2B ecommerce strategy, the distributor wanted to continue its digital transformation. Staples Promotional Products required a way to merge its four legacy ecommerce systems into one unified, cohesive, and flexible ecommerce environment. These four systems support over 400 storefronts and require complex integrations. The company sought to replatform to an ecommerce platform with enough flexibility and scale to serve as the culmination point of the existing systems.

With the ecommerce platform migration to Znode, Staples Promotional Products utilized its REST endpoints in the API provided to integrate with existing business systems seamlessly and began the process of sunsetting legacy platforms. Znode’s multi-store functionality provided the foundation for the distributor's B2B2B ecommerce business model evolution. Read the full Staples Promotional Products customer story.

Improving Onboarding and Customer Experience: Global Schoolwear

Global Schoolwear is a distributor and licensee of school uniforms under the Tommy Hilfiger brand. The distributor was frustrated with the inability to manage unique school uniform programs on its existing ecommerce platform, Magento (now Adobe Commerce). The process required replicating data for each new program catalog and took technical and operations teams months to onboard a new school.

Global Schoolwear’s ecommerce replatforming to Znode empowered a significantly easier process to manage each school’s catalog and complex rules associated with the uniform program. Znode’s flexible data structure allowed the distributor’s operations team to create hundreds of catalogs for schools in the Znode administration console without technical support. Znode reduced the previously lengthy onboarding process for schools from 12 to 14 weeks to a few days. Site speed was also vastly improved, as the time needed to place a uniform order decreased from an hour to a few minutes. By replatforming ecommerce to Znode, Global Schoolwear streamlined the customer onboarding process and improved customer experience for schools and parents. Read the full Global Schoolwear customer story.

Automating Processes: Drew Shoe

Drew Shoe is a multi-brand manufacturer of all types of footwear, from therapeutic comfort footwear to fashion-forward designs. Each shoe brand in the manufacturer’s portfolio has a unique story and audience, forcing the company to deliver brand-specific user experiences. Unfortunately, Drew Shoe achieved those unique experiences with various ecommerce platforms. This created inefficiencies in the functional and technical management of ecommerce and increased the total cost of ownership. The existing integrations with the manufacturer’s Everest ERP system were insufficient and unable to pass ecommerce orders into the system of record without manual assistance from the customer service team.

Drew Shoe re-platformed to Znode, enabling multi-brand, multi-store ecommerce with distinctly unique brand experiences by storefront. Integrating Znode and Everest ERP automated the order flow seamlessly into Drew Shoe’s ERP system for fulfillment. Replatfroming ecommerce operations to Znode allowed the multi-brand manufacturer to drive efficiencies in the functional and technical management of the multiple storefronts while growing online revenue. Read the full Drew Shoe customer story.

B2B Ecommerce Replatforming FAQs

What is replatforming for B2B ecommerce?
Replatforming and B2B ecommerce platform migration are interchangeable terms for the process of moving from an existing ecommerce platform to a new platform. This includes moving everything that lives on the original platform to the new one, such as products, pages, blog posts, customers, and orders.

What percentage of revenue should be spent on ecommerce replatform?
It depends. Ecommerce platforms have an annual license fee, but the cost of ecommerce platform migration can vary depending on what platform is being migrated to, the amount of data (products, customers, orders, etc.), and the complexity of the requirements play a role in that cost.

Can replatforming help save businesses time and money?
Yes, replatforming ecommerce to a modern B2B ecommerce platform can:

  • Future-proof investments, update rather than upgrade
  • Lower costs, such as development and customizations
  • An ecommerce platform that serves as a single source of truth provides efficiencies in both time and money, reducing management process time and eliminating duplication of processes and resources
  • Automated processes will increase efficiency in order processing and many other processes associated with B2B ecommerce

How can a merchant ensure it will never need to replatform ecommerce again?
Execute these key methods:

  1. Choose a flexible platform
  2. Always consider scalability
  3. Stay up-to-date on the latest version of the platform
  4. Invest in a solid ecommerce stack (ecommerce platform, tax engine, logistics system, payment gateway, etc.)
  5. Work with an experienced system implementator

How long does it take to replatform a B2B ecommerce storefront?
Again, it depends. In B2B ecommerce, many variables impact a replatforming effort, such as integrations, data model configuration, ecommerce data migration, and more. However, launching a new storefront with Znode can take days rather than months on many other platforms.

What are the key metrics to measure the success of a B2B ecommerce replatforming project?

  • Adoption rate: The percentage of customers who have adopted and are actively using a new ecommerce platform or solution. This metric measures how well the platform has been received by customers and can indicate the level of customer satisfaction with the new solution.
  • Site speed and performance: The speed and performance of the new platform are critical to its success. Measuring the time it takes for pages to load and other performance metrics help identify areas for improvement.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate measures the percentage of visitors who complete a purchase on the site. A higher conversion rate indicates a more effective and user-friendly ecommerce platform.
  • Average order value (AOV): This metric measures the average value of each order placed on the site. A higher AOV can indicate that customers find the new platform easier to use and make more significant purchases.
  • Order volume: The number of orders placed on the site provides an overall measure of the success of the replatforming project.
  • Speed to market: The time it takes to launch a new storefront or enable a new ecommerce channel. As new opportunities are presented to merchants, the quicker the ability to deliver the desired customer experience, the more opportunity captured.
  • Customization costs: The cost it takes to support multiple ecommerce channels with non-native platform features. A lower customization cost, immediately and over time, means an additional budget for revenue-driving efforts.

Request a demo of Znode to learn how to end B2B ecommerce replatforming forever.

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