OroCommerce — new quality for B2B ecommerce
E-commerce is simple. This statement may be controversial, especially in light of how much effort and money you put into development, promotion, and building market position of your online store. However, if you look at functionality and design of e-commerce, templates dominate. It must offer search engine (so that Generation Google doesn’t feel lost), products list with filters, product card, basket, customer account with order processing information and… that’s it. Logo on the left, a mini shopping cart on the right. Categories at the top, footer with contact, terms & conditions, information about payment and shipping at the bottom of the site. Nobody does it differently because the customer who will have to look for something for a second longer than expected, will go to the competition.
All the above applies, however, only to one segment of e-commerce market — B2C. But when we look at the segment of business-to-business the situation is quite different. Standard solutions are far from being sufficient. It’s hard to find any common denominator, and the basic requirement is flexibility in adapting to the requirements of specific entities.
Due to those reasons B2B is the Achilles heel of e-commerce. That’s because most of the available e-commerce platforms were designed for the needs of B2C commerce. B2B model requires specific features and flexibility not available in this type of tools. Companies were forced to reach for various add-ons and extensions that more or less allowed the reproduction of the B2B model. According to the survey carried out by Salmon and Stibo Systems, more than half of B2B marketers tasked with the implementation of an e-commerce platform have not been able to find appropriate technology, tailored to their needs. As many as 47% of companies had to face the problem of insufficient integration between the offered solutions, and their existing traditional sales model.
But it seems that this situation may change in the near future. In the spring of 2015 team of Oro Ltd, famous for such products as OroPlatform and OroCRM, announced that it is working on a new platform, this time tailored to the needs B2B — OroCommerce. Given that the Oro Ltd are people who cut their teeth on the development and implementation of e-commerce platforms, in addition to combining the experience of working on OroCRM with practical knowledge of B2B commerce, OroCommerce has a chance to disrupt the e-commerce market space. We invite you to read a brief description of this fast-approaching platform.
Accurate company structure
First of all, the strength of OroCommerce is that it is written specifically for the B2B sector. The platform allows for very accurate representation of the structure of the company — from the division into departments and branches to a single employee, allowing the assignment of the appropriate powers to each unit and detailed reproduction of the hierarchy of employees.
The platform also provides the ability to manage multiple warehouses. This element has always been missing from Magento. The lack of this feature has not been addressed in version 2 of the popular platform. Interestingly, in both Magento 1 and Magento 2 looks like the structure of the database is prepared to manage multiple warehouses. Unfortunately — this functionality has never appeared in the “out of the box” version of the product.
OroCommerce also makes sure the right people have access to the resources assigned to them. The administrative panel shows only the information which is directly relevant to the specific department employees, eg. a separate part of the catalog, or customers assigned to them. Especially in large organisations this solves the problem of information overload, while allowing managers to always keep their finger on the pulse.
Personalized product catalog
Another special feature of B2B sales is the lack of uniform pricing for all buyers. Unlike B2C, each client can have its own set of prices depending on many factors.
OroCommerce allows you to create a virtually unlimited number of sets of prices, which can then be assigned to a single client or a group. It also allows the definition of product prices, depending on the ordered quantity — the same product will have a different price depending on whether it’s purchased in retail or wholesale.
Created products can be divided into categories and assigned to the appropriate warehouses. Their visibility to each customer can also be managed. This way you can prepare special groups of goods only visible to the selected buyers.
Dynamic interaction of buyer — seller
The real strength of OroCommerce lies in enabling the seller and the buyer a multilevel interaction. The buyer has the option to place an order based on the price of the directory, and can also send an inquiry via the platform and negotiate the terms of purchase. Sending a request triggers a series of discussions conducted until the two sides reach an agreement. OroCommerce significantly streamlines the process of negotiations, saving all arrangements in a transparent, easy to analyse form. This is important because during the entire process the inquiry and the answer may change many times, edited by both buyer and seller.
The combination of e-commerce platform with a tool to conduct business discussions allows for quick and convenient access to customer information and his/her existing transactions. Seller may offer the buyer a better deal, based on information from saved shopping lists (also part of OroCommerce) offer additional / complementary products or recommend an alternative one.
The structure of OroCommerce allows customers to assign different privileges, eg. a few employees can create a shopping list, but only one of them is authorized to place orders. The ability to model this sort of processes enables to truly reflect the real process of making an order on the client side.
Workflows is something in which we fell in love right away. In our opinion, it may become a killer feature of OroCommerce. This option gives you the ability to create your own processes. Virtually every action feasible in the system, can be converted into a sequence of activities needed for its completion eg. the acceptance of the order by specific employees or supplying additional data. Lack of documentation does not allow for a full test, however, as far as we were able to read this through trial and error — just awesome!
Part of a larger picture
The big advantage of OroCommerce is the ease with which you will be able to integrate it with other tools: CRM, ERP, PIM or other platforms. The tool is built on the basis of OroPlatform and Symfony 2, so you can assume that this will ensure rapid development, with the large number of developers who are already familiar with this php framework.
It is also worth mentioning the ecosystem, which grows OroCommerce. Created by the same company as OroCRM will soon see the integration of the two tools. In addition, OroCommerce among its partners lists brands such as Akeneo (PIM), Marello (ERP), Avalara and others. The integration of these systems will allow users full control over their business online.
Of course, it’s still a beta version. Finding a not fully working functionality is not a problem. You can also see the elements, which should in our opinion be refined, eg. the appearance of the administration panel. Despite its undeniable usefulness, lacking any aesthetics.
This does not change the fact that the functionality and flexibility of the platform can provide its very strong position among e-commerce solutions for B2B. The question remains whether OroCommerce will manage to conquer the hearts of users? As always — the time will show and the market will verify.