Although Magento Inc. says it has more than 150,000 clients using its software for some form of business-to-business e-commerce, it’s out to up its B2B game with software features designed for manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.
The company announced yesterday at its Imagine technology conference in Las Vegas that it will make available this summer Magento Digital Commerce Cloud for B2B, e-commerce software it will host in the cloud with the kind of built-in features for B2B e-commerce that have been missing from the vendor’s software.
“It’s an opportunity for us to treat B2B as a first-class citizen,” says Jason Woosley, senior vice president of product and technology.
Magento has a reputation for offering a highly flexible e-commerce platform that large corporations like 3M and Procter & Gamble as well as smaller companies have deployed for retail or B2B e-commerce. In many cases, Magento’s clients use the Magento Commerce platform for both B2B and retail e-commerce, Woosley says.
He notes that Magento has some 260,000 customers, and that 60%, or 156,000, use its software for some form of B2B e-commerce. In some cases, for example, these may be retailers who also sell in bulk to corporate customers and need to handle bulk pricing and order fulfillment. Most Magento clients deploy the free Magento Commerce Community Edition, but the new B2B software will be available as a free add-on only for the Magento Commerce licensed Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition generally starts at about $10,000.
Woosley admits that Magento Commerce has not been designed with many built-in B2B features that online sellers typically need when selling to businesses, government agencies and other non-consumer markets. To provide online buyers with a feature designed to let them open an online window to quickly re-order commonly purchased items, for instance, Magento Commerce clients typically have to customize the software, he says. “They could maybe do that in days, but with our new software, that feature will be ‘out of the box,’” he says.
Woosley adds that, compared with the existing Magento software platform, the new software will also be designed to let clients more easily and quickly customize it as needed. Although a basic re-ordering feature will come with the new software, he says that some clients may want to modify it to enable automatic replenishment of products based on such criteria as when a customer’s available inventory reaches a minimum level. The new software will require a “minimum amount” of development work that will be far smaller than the amount of work required with Magento’s existing software, he says.
Andy Hoar, vice president and principal analyst for B2B e-commerce at Forrester Research Inc., agrees that the new B2B software is a major change for Magento. “This release now gives Magento out-of-the-box B2B functionality,” he says. “Before, I.T. and digital teams had to piece together and even custom code certain B2B feature sets on Magento. This streamlines that process and enables B2B e-commerce teams to deploy digital experiences faster and more cost effectively.”
Magento lists the following features that will be among those it available in its new software:
- Corporate account management, for managing sales transactions under various payment options to corporate accounts with buyers organized by level of purchasing authorization and spending limit;
- Price quoting, for channeling customer requests for pricing and negotiating terms;
- Custom catalogs and pricing, providing customized groups of products and personalized price lists for individual companies or groups of customers;
- Real-time information on available inventory, letting customers view the availability of inventory across multiple warehouses and choose the most suitable location for efficient fulfillment.
- Integration tools, including APIs and software extensions for connecting an e-commerce site with back-end software for managing such tasks as updating customer records and inventory levels.
Magento is listed as the provider of e-commerce software by 54 companies in the B2B E-Commerce 300.
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