B2B web portal development is on the rise. Two-thirds of B2B companies already sell their products and services fully online. As a revenue stream, it beats nearly all other channels (phone, email, video) and ties with in-person sales (US), encouraging B2B brands to up their investment in web portal engineering.
If you consider shifting your transactions online and providing your clients and partners with a quality online portal, this is your go-to guide. Read on to learn:
How to tailor a web portal to the specifics of B2B space
What features to consider to make sure your clients and partners will stick to your portal
What benefits you will reap from integrating a quality portal into your process
How to develop B2B web portal in 4 time-tested steps
How much it will cost to build a fully-fledged portal
But first, let’s quickly outline the specifics of web portals and how they fin in B2B operations.
What is a B2B web portal?
B2B web portal is a one-stop online space where your clients, vendors or partners can easily access products, services and content and make transactions. Depending on your goals, you can use it as a marketplace, sales engine, or collaboration platform. The best bit? Your portal can address the exact needs and demands of your audience, giving you an invaluable competitive advantage.
Just like customers in B2C, modern B2B buyers want to be able to do their research and carry out transactions on their own. Portals provide them with web tools available around the clock to do that, and a lot more.
B2B buyers spend most of their time (27%) doing independent online research before considering a purchase. Gartner
Unlike B2C space, however, business-to-business operations are way more complex and lengthy.
Long buying process. B2B decision-making cycles differ greatly depending on the industry. It can be as short as a few days in retail and take months or even years for global transactions in energy. B2B portals should be able to support buyers across their journey, no matter how complex it is.
Multiple stakeholders. There are 6 to 10 people involved in the B2B decision-making process. Therefore, most portals should feature roles, access rights, and personalized content for different stakeholders.
Diverse payment methods and high-cost deals. Businesses use various types of transactions and payment methods to close deals. Moreover, the average value of online purchases has grown significantly in the last couple of years, according to McKinsey B2B Pulse. The share of companies that are willing to close $500k-$1mln+ deals using digital channels is historically high (35%). In other words, a web portal is no longer a place for small-ticket purchases only, and therefore requires adequate tools for flexible, secure and effective transactions.
These specifics impact the scope of B2B portal development and point to the features you might want to consider to fit the needs of your clients.
Essential features for your B2B web portal
The functionality of your portal will depend on many factors, such as your niche, audience, priorities, and existing infrastructure. There are, however, several features that are common for almost all types of web portals in B2B: vendor or partner portals, marketplaces or B2B eCommerce platforms.
Authorization and account
Business account and secure authorization features set a client-centric portal apart from an all-purpose website. These features are essential to identify users and provide them with unique offers, pricing, and services.
Roles and access rights
As we’ve mentioned already, there are usually multiple stakeholders involved in the B2B decision-making process. Roles and distribution of rights make it simple and secure for different people throughout the organization to access necessary information. As a result, it speeds up the entire process and uncomplicates the buyer experience.
Product/service pages and catalogs
Product catalogs along with a set of self-service eCommerce features (order, payment, shipping, tracking, history, reorder) simplify and speed up the purchase journey. Add smart search, recommendation algorithms and personalization features to tailor buyers' experience to their unique needs and you get yourself an ultimate sales engine.
Diverse payment and credit tools are important features to consider when developing a custom web portal for B2B transactions. They provide flexibility and give buyers levers for effective purchase strategies online.
A B2B web portal rarely exists in isolation. As a part of B2B operations, it is often integrated with various business systems already in use in the organization, such as CRM, ERP, document management systems, etc. It enables secure data transfer and helps gather scattered experiences across different channels.
And the benefits only start here.
Benefits of a custom B2B web portal for your business
Boost client satisfaction and loyalty
Clients are loyal to the companies that deliver the best experience. A B2B web portal is the means to create such an experience – personalize offers, provide easy navigation and quick access to products and services, and create a seamless purchase journey from search to order to one-click reorder. All this will help you build lasting engagement with your clients and nurture loyalty.
Reduce sales cycle time
Provide your clients with self-service web tools to speed up and simplify the purchase process: web demos and catalogs, A-to-Z order management tools, dashboards, etc. Or create the entire journey online for simple B2B transactions. Either way, you will slash the length of your sales cycle and be able to close more deals in less time.
Automate B2B process and cut costs
Every B2B process is unique and has a different potential for automation. This is why when planning on how to create web portal for B2B operations, start with identifying inefficiencies in a current process and steps that would benefit from automation. Then see how web technologies can help you fix that – get rid of spreadsheets, paperwork, calls, manual invoices, human errors, etc. In practice, depending on the complexity of operations, process automation saves 10-50% of business costs.
Reach more clients using fewer resources
Want clients and partners to come to you? Set up an online space where they can find what they need and hit their goals faster. A B2B portal will help you reach your audience on a wider scale without hiring more sales reps and opening new branches in new locations.
Scale your operations easily and cost-effectively
About new branches. Another huge benefit of integrating a custom web portal for B2B operations is easy scalability. With the right content management tools and integrations in place, you can expand your offers, services, geo, data sources, vendor lists, etc. fast and cost-effectively.
A web portal allows you to integrate multiple experiences and business systems in one place, giving your a 360-degree view of your B2B operations, client journeys, interactions, order statistics, and more. So that you could create an insight-driven strategy for your business.
Occupy the web before your competitors do
Create a frictionless experience for every step of your client journey, then watch your revenue grow.
We covered the role and benefits of web portals in B2B and how to adjust them to the specifics of your business-to-business interaction. Next, we’ll walk you through the process of web portal development and show how to develop custom web portal for B2B with a laser focus on your clients’ needs and expectations.
Key steps of B2B web portal development
B2B web portal development is not much different from an industry-standard approach in software development. It consists of research, design, development, support and maintenance. In addition to that, it included several crucial steps that help the tech team design and build a system that will smoothly integrate into your infrastructure without disrupting your process and operations.
When we talk about how to make B2B web portal tailored to the needs of a particular business, we always mention Discovery as the best way to start with a new system. Discovery is a research and development stage that includes an in-depth analysis of all key aspects of the project – requirements, audience, market, competition, industry-specific technologies and business opportunities – along with a detailed project estimate, scoping and development roadmap.
Discovery usually takes a few weeks up to a month and ends up with a range of valuable deliverables such as documented requirements, user portfolio, market report, visualized product concept, and project roadmap. By the end of this phase, you will have a clear vision of the future system and a detailed plan for its implementation.
NOTE:Technology analysis is an important part of the research stage during B2B portal development. It includes the analysis of the existing tech stack and infrastructure, business systems, APIs, integrations and third-party platforms that will connect with the portal. Decisions made at this step will affect the system’s scalability, security, and overall performance.
Ideation and design
Ideation and design is a collaborative phase. During this phase, designers use the results of the research along with all the information they can get from the stakeholders (branding, style book, marketing requirements) to create an effective user experience and interface for the future web system. Iteration by iteration, sketches turn into wireframes, and then into a clickable prototype that demonstrates user journeys across the entire B2B portal.
Development and testing
Web development and testing is the longest phase of B2B web portal development. It consists of a series of iterations, each two to four weeks long depending on the scope. Developers build system components and responsive user interface, migrate data, set up APIs and integrations with in-house systems and third-party components, test and deploy using modern engineering practices (CI/CD, unit tests, test automation, etc.).
Delivery and support
The first functional version of the system is out. As your clients and partners start using your portal, you get performance and usage data and see how to further optimize and scale your system. Client feedback and real-world data is the valuable source of insights that show how to create B2B web portal tailored to immediate and changing user needs.
Cost of B2B portal development
The cost of custom B2B web portal development varies wildly depending on the scope, tech stack, integrations, team composition, and delivery timeline.
To give you a general idea, we provide a rough breakdown of the workload for a market-ready custom eCommerce portal development:
The total cost of the project will depend among other things on whether you hire an in-house web development team or outsource. For instance, based on the average hourly rates of UX/UI designers, frontend, backend, and QA engineers in the US, the total cost of this B2B portal project would start at around $72k. Outsourcing to a reliable service provider would cut this cost by up to 30% without dropping the quality of the end product. And all because of lower hourly rates in popular outsourcing destinations (Central Europe, South America).
To get a detailed estimate for your B2B web portal, contact our team and tell us about your needs. We will set up a discovery call to learn about your requirements, goals and expectations, conduct the research and make an estimate for your project.
Hire an experienced team for B2B portal development
Looking for a reliable tech partner with a solid track record in B2B portal development? We can help. Our team has been developing value-driven solutions for B2B brands since 2010. You can leverage our expertise and tech skills on demand, including
12+ years in web development for B2B brands
Cross-functional teams and diverse tech stack: .NET, Java, Angular, React, Python, Node.js, Vue, AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, etc.
Dozens of delivered web solutions for Oxford University Press, Printique, Origin Digital, Lodgify, Mercans, Feed.fm, Kantar, etc.
ISO-certified process (ISO 27001, ISO 9001) and guaranteed quality of deliveries
Strong industry expertise in logistics, agriculture, retail, healthcare, energy, publishing, education, sports, etc.
Need help with B2B web portal development?
We will design and develop a user-centered portal and seamlessly integrate it into your process without draining your resources and time.
In this guide to B2B web portal development, we talked about the role and benefits of web portals in the B2B space and shared a step-by-step framework for web portal development.
Integrating a web portal into operations provides multiple benefits for B2B brands and their clients: boosts loyalty, helps companies cut sales cycle and business expenses, and opens the doors to new opportunities and markets.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C portal development?
B2B operations are more complex and lengthy compared to B2C due to longer decision-making and multiple stakeholders involved in the process. It affects the scope of B2B portal development that includes special tools and functionality to support B2B buyer journey.
What are the benefits of B2B web portal development?
Integrating web portals into B2B operations brings different benefits both for business and its clients. The most common gains are improved engagement, process automation, cut expenses, and easy and cost-effective scalability.
Why build a custom web portal for B2B?
Every business has a unique process and works with a set of systems that support its operations, including legacy systems and private databases. Custom portals are designed to seamlessly fit the company’s infrastructure and process. Unlike platform-based development which leaves less room for customization.
They are technically excellent, have an agile process in place and are always looking for "win/win" opportunities. The team is incredibly honest, hard working and has been a source of new ideas and improvements.