May 19, 2014, 8:24 PM

MarketLive launches e-commerce technology for B2B companies

The software vendor’s new Market Focused B2B Solution runs on the same e-commerce technology platform as its retail e-commerce software.

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MarketLive is targeting mid-sized manufacturers and distributors who either want to sell only to other businesses or to both businesses and consumers, the company announced today.

MarketLive Inc., which since 1995 has provided e-commerce technology for retailers, is now also offering technology for companies that want to sell online to other businesses, the vendor announced Monday during a conference and trade show for B2B companies.

Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive, says the new Market Focused B2BSolution provides a wide range of B2B-specific features required on a B2B site—such as product descriptions and pricing based on a B2B customer’s contract, and multiple copies of the same online shopping cart shared among several buyers. MarketLive announced the new B2B offering Monday during the first-ever IRCE Focus: Brands & B2B conference and trade show, in New York.

Without such features in its main retail e-commerce platform, MarketLive has had to turn down a growing number of client projects in recent years, Burke said in a recent interview. “We’ve been looking at this B2B market for years, and seeing RFPs that we’ve been passing on,” he said.

MarketLive says it is targeting clients with annual web sales ranging from about $10 million to $400 million. It designed the new B2B e-commerce software so that companies can run it on the same technology platform as MarketLive’s retail e-commerce software, Burke says. The company started to make its B2B software available on a limited basis last December, but has now made it generally available, Burke says.

MarketLive has so far signed up clients including furniture manufacturer Company C, which sells to some 1,000 businesses worldwide and operates three retail stores; and The Tile Shop, a specialty retailer of manufactured and natural stone tiles and related materials, which sells to contractors and other business as well as to consumers and operates more than 90 retail stores across 30 states, with another 20 stores planned to open this year. It operates a retail e-commerce site at TileShop.com.

“One of the major benefits of MarketLive’s new solution is that we didn’t have to build out a totally separate B2B site,” says Brian Thron, marketing director of The Tile Shop, which is one of the firstMarketLive merchant customers to deploy the new B2B capabilities. “It combines our B2C and B2B functions in one integrated platform, and we can leverage business rules and merchandising across both channels. MarketLive B2B also makes life easier for us in terms of site maintenance, bulk reorders and volume discounts.” The Tile Shop is working with MarketLive development partner DEPlabs to launch by June 4 its B2B site, which will let contractors log in to products and pricing covered in the contracts, Thron says.

MarketLive provides its e-commerce technology under a software-as-a-service model, through which client companies rent software from MarketLive through a web connection.

MarketLive’s B2B software starts at about $50,000 a year for companies that already run MarketLive’s business-to-consumer e-commerce software; it starts at about $100,000 for those not already using the vendor’s B2C software.

Other MarketLive B2B software features include:

● The ability to manage through a single online administrative tool all product records, descriptions and images for both B2B and B2C web pages;

● Functionality to manage for payment terms, order limits, specific pricing and other aspects of each B2B customer’s account;

● ­­A reordering feature that lets a B2B company’s customers view past orders and either quickly reorder the same merchandise and quantities, or make modifications before reordering.

MarketLive is also providing a limited form of workflow with its B2B software, so that buyers can place orders on hold while getting necessary purchasing authorizations from department managers, but the vendor also plans to eventually release an upgraded version of the software with “full automated workflow” for routing pending online purchases to multiple personnel in a buyer’s company for approvals, Burke says.

MarketLive also plans to release a “portable POS” or portable point-of-sale application that will be designed to let field sales reps manage customer accounts and place online orders through mobile devices perhaps as soon as later this year, Burke says.

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