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October 16, 2018

B2B Ecommerce Solutions: What You Need to Know

B2B customers state the "lack of speed in interactions with their suppliers" as the number one pain-point...twice as important as price.

Increased and Improved Sales

Your B2B Ecommerce website can take orders 24/7, easily handle re-orders, provide one click checkout and allow ordering online via their phone. In addition it can provide answers to frequently asked questions via self-service support sections. By leveraging personalization capabilities, you can customize the way your storefront looks or the products it displays based on buyer preferences and history.

Customer-centric Experience

It is clear that users now prefer do-it-yourself options for researching products prior to purchase. E-commerce sites can provide them with access to self-service portals/websites with product descriptions, pricing, inventory, reviews, shipping and handling information, as well as their order history.

Higher Operational Efficiency

Digitization and automation of your business takes care of the routine tasks that previously were handled manually by your employees. This reduces errors while enabling your staff to address things a machine cannot do – advising, consulting and supporting leads & clients.

The Right Tools

Gone are the days of B2B compa­nies trying to force B2C Ecommerce platforms to meet their needs. Today the tools are available to meet most companies B2B requirements out of the box. This ensures adherence to best practices, far faster and less expensive implementations.

The Right Implementer

There are companies that now spe­cialize in B2B Ecommerce implemen­tations like Graphically Speaking. These specialists need to understand B2B businesses and how they work with the new breed of B2B Ecom­merce software. In addition they must have in-depth knowledge of product data, integrations with other software platforms, pricing, shipping and then all the other capabilities of B2C Ecommerce.

Complex Pricing

B2B companies typically have dif­ferent prices for different custom­ers. These prices can be achieved with combinations like: discount for customer groups; prices for specific product bundles; quantity and vol­ume discounts; or a combination of these methods.

Keeping the prices current for your customers and products can be a challenge. Plan for how you will ad­dress this. It’s typically via a system integration or via a file, to bulk upload pricing.

Pricing information is one of the most sought after pieces of infor­mation on a B2B website.

Flexible Checkout Process

Your checkout process should match your company’s unique rules for payment and shipping.

Examples include:

  • Purchase orders available only to certain customers based on their credit limit and approval.
  • Integration of the checkout into your customers’ buying and approval process.
  • Certain products being restricted from shipping to certain geographic locations.
  • Enabling customers to charge the shipping to their accounts.

 

Helping Customers Buy The Way They Want To

B2B buyers demand personalized self-service, full-service, and hybrid purchase options. Some Ecommerce sites offer customers different tracks for their individual purchase path: fast-track for repeat and bulk purchases; standard-track for regular purchases; and advanced-track for more complex, customized solutions.

Customer Registration

For B2B Ecommerce sites registra­tion is typically mandatory so that customers get access to custom prices, products, and terms. Autho­rized users can see products, prices, order-tracking information, and potentially pay for offline orders.

Mobile Responsiveness

Make it easy for mobile users to in­teract and purchase by making your website mobile responsive. Ensure the checkout process works flaw­lessly on mobile devices.

Faceted Navigation

Includes filters for many different attributes (or facets) of the objects in a set. In essence it provides multiple filters that allow users to analyze a large set of content and exclude any objects that don’t meet that criteria. This tools allows users to better un­derstand the content space and gives them ideas of what is available and how to search for it.

Integrations

The Ecommerce system itself may not hold all of the key customer and product information, thus integration with other systems can play an im­portant part of Ecommerce success. Integration tools and capabilities have improved dramatically over the last couple of years with low cost and robust solutions.

Personalization

Allow customers to get information they need in a more effective and timely manner. Examples can include custom catalogues, order history, special pricing, new product an­nouncements, specials, etc.

Site Search

Search is critical for Ecommerce. Most platforms come with some level of search capability but improving the quality of your site search can greatly help conver­sions for a quick-win ROI benefit. Sophisticated, third-party search tools can often pay for them­selves quickly.

User Navigation

Plan your site navigation to assist users to find what they need, especially for sites with a large number of products. Common navigational tools include: filter­ing by price, attribute or rating; viewing of most purchased prod­ucts; and personalized product recommendations.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a good way to drive repeat sales from your B2B customers. Integrate your Ecommerce site with an email system to personalize and target messages based on customers’ site activity and order history. Customers appreciate emails that inform them of their prod­ucts journey and delivery and this is a great opportunity to cross-sell and upsell.

Quick Order

B2B customers often know exactly what they want, right down to the item number or SKU. Provide a form where customers can enter item numbers and quanti­ties, to quickly add items to their cart without browsing and searching. Also if possible invoke one click checkout into your cart.

Multiple Users in a Single Account

For a lot of businesses, many people can place orders under a single ac­count. Account profiles can get com­plex and must be organized accord­ingly. Will each user see other users’ orders? How are the user profiles managed? What are the account re­strictions for each user?

Tool for The Salespeople

Many B2B companies are loading all of their product data, inventory, pricing information, etc. into their Ecommerce site. They then password protect the sensitive or confidential information and allow easy access for the sales or company representative.

Configurator

Configurators may be developed to solve all sorts of complications such as custom project pricing, parts specifica­tions or freight. Configurator’s help customers make complex purchases easier and can help vendors reduce the cost of sales support.

Request a Quote

Some products are complicated to quote and can require numerous interactions with the client. Built in quote management systems allow the potential customer to request a quote through a user friendly form, then the sales rep can configure, substitute products, price and send the quote back to the client. The client if necessary can then make modifications and send back to the sales rep for confirmation and then automatic entry into the Ecommerce platform. This can streamline the process making it faster and simpler to do business with your company.

Real-time Inventory

If a customer is in a rush to get an order, they need to know how much stock is available and ready for im­mediate shipment. They don’t have the patience to receive an email sometime later that states that half of the order is back ordered. This is one of the most sought after pieces of information from B2B customers.

Continuity Orders (aka Repeat Orders or Subscription)

Often a customer places the same order each month, much like a consumer may have a weekly grocery list. They can save a lot of time with a recurring order that automatically reorders items at a set interval. With online self-service, customers can also adjust those orders if something changes.

Conclusion

With well-rounded B2B Ecommerce tools and experienced B2B imple­menters, customers can now expect a robust feature rich Ecommerce implementation to be done cost effectively and on a timely basis. Sometimes taking just a few short months.

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