More than 75% of purchasers prefer to explore what is available first online. They then want to make simple purchases and repeat purchases online as well. For more complex purchases they seek contact with sales specialists. These specialists then put forward a proposal that can be viewed, agreed and tracked online. This way, the quality of personal contact is actually enhanced by an B2B e-commerce platform.
Are you capable of meeting the expectations of your target groups in the coming years? Are you able to integrate your personal contact seamlessly with your online sales in your existing digital commerce platform, and to serve your customers satisfactorily, quickly and faultlessly?
We have identified 11 B2B e-commerce functionalities, which your platform needs to offer as a minimum.
Your distributors’ catalogues are kept up-to-date automatically. An intelligent integration takes into account the fact that the distributors all categorize their catalogues differently. A good B2B e-commerce platform creates one logical catalogue from all those different structures and does this in such a way that this can deal successfully with changes in a feed.
Besides this, distributors often offer overlapping products. An intelligent platform immediately shows you your best procurement conditions, when an order comes in. Naturally, identical products are only shown to your customers once.
Furthermore, an intelligent integration provides you with an optimal inventory position. You have direct insight into the total inventory of all your distributors. So, having to explain a ‘No’ is a thing of the past.
Customers have their own contract prices. That may be a discount from the list prices or purchase price +, or a mix of both of these. In addition, it is possible that certain products or product groups may not be ordered. Or that there is a product that other users cannot see, which is available for that one user. A digital B2B platform needs to be able to provide this. And to be able to display it quickly, if something is requested. That is what a user expects of his digital portal. Even if it contains thousands of articles.
The conditions are recorded centrally in the ERP (if you have this) and your customer can easily order in batches.
With a direct Open Catalogue Interface link to your customer’s ERP system, you can offer the customer the possibility of ordering from your product range with one press of a button. Often a ‘must’ for doing business with corporate customers and government agencies.
Liquidity is important for many of your customers. To avoid missing out on any business, you want to be able to offer your customers the option of leasing your products. In doing so, it is important that this does not cause your organization any extra administrative burden or financial risk.
Digitally, with a binding contract, so that the channel partner is paid directly from the funding source.
In the case of larger customers, a number of people and/or divisions may place orders. It is important that your platform is sufficiently flexible to meet the specific wishes of a wide variety of customers. It could be that maximum budgets need to be built into the system based, for example, on seniority or specific functions. In addition, it often happens that certain divisions/functions can order part of your product range, whilst others may not. A fully-fledged B2B e-commerce platform offers this as standard.
A B2B e-commerce platform must enable you to tailor the service you offer to each customer. This is possible, by offering your customers their own digital self-service portal. In this case, only the agreed product selection is displayed, at the agreed prices. But this also offers your customer direct access to order statuses, (outstanding) invoices, order lists, etc.
Besides this, a platform must be capable of automatically displaying the most popular products first. Or products that are most relevant for a particular function.
Naturally, you are able to address each of your customers in a personal way.
Via his dashboard, your customer can see his last order at a glance, and easily re-order if desired. This saves a lot of time and is, therefore, a very popular functionality.
To make things as easy as possible for your customer, you need to present as much relevant information as possible very clearly; outstanding quotations, invoices, ongoing orders, support tickets.
Of course, an OCI link is also a customer-friendly interface. The important thing is that the platform you choose must offer the possibilities which your (future) customers ask of you. ‘The time of one size fits all is long gone.
It is clear that a mature commerce platform needs to facilitate specific prices. However, it often happens that you want to or need to deviate from this for a very large order. This is also relevant in the case of tenders and RFPs. One-off, and very specific.
It is advisable to carry out all your sales activities via your commerce platform. After all, that way you have all your data in one place and that is an absolute prerequisite for streamlined processes.
This means that your commerce platform needs to make it possible for a sales team to draw up and issue quotations, with approvals and version management.
Your customer receives the quotation via email and in his dashboard.
Do your products require an explanation? Or special offers in a brochure? Then you need to be able to easily add these; in bulk or per SKU.