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After COVID, it seems even pointless to explain why taking your business online is a necessity if you want to grow your sales. However, there's a prejudice floating around that B2B businesses are an exception to this overall reign of "all-digital".
McKinsey has published a report busting these myths. According to it, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of B2B companies now offer e-commerce capabilities, and this does not only pertain to low-value products. People are used to buying online. And they are ready to pay if they are offered high-quality customer service.
1. What Challenges to Consider When Taking a B2B Shop Online?
Here's a short overview of the current trends that B2B companies need to keep in mind when they decide to digitize their business flows.
A growing demand for omnichannel online shopping
Sixty-five percent of B2B organizations increased their investment in e-commerce last year. But what exactly does omnichannel mean in this context?
You'll need to be present across all possible channels: mobile, web, social media, and a physical store. And here we face the first hurdles:
You need to have a unified system that supports all the channels
More online orders mean more orders to fulfill, which can put pressure on your processes if your business isn't ready.
If your systems aren't connected, you may face inventory inaccuracies, lost orders, low customer retention rates, and an increased workload without any particular growth in efficiency.
B2B buyers have higher expectations and standards
Amazon has changed the way customers shop. Customers expect fast page load times, personalized search-driven experiences, detailed product catalogs with images and descriptions, self-service options, and quick checkout.
Another challenge lies in the special requirements of B2B buying. How is it possible to digitize bulk pricing, complex pricing management (invoices, split payments, deposits), product bundling, back-to-back ordering, custom catalogs, personalized updates, etc.? Spoiler: it's not only possible, but also necessary and easily achievable.
Supply chain complexity
Fulfilling orders now can be done in a variety of ways: traditional in-house supply chain methods, dropshipping, third-party logistics (3PL) or EDI integrations. Managing supply chains digitally can be quite a challenge, though it saves valuable time, money and resources when it comes to fulfilling orders.
Data silos: scaling challenges
If you have a hybrid commerce model (B2B and B2C combined), you need to have all your orders and inventory tracked in one central platform. Accurate and consistent customer data reduces the risk of errors, and an improved customer experience allows for more recurring purchases and more happy customers.
To wrap it up
The primary goal of B2B e-commerce, is to deliver a beautiful, easy-to-use e-commerce site that supports complex business workflows like customer-specific contract pricing, custom catalogs, purchasing approvals, credit terms, easy re-ordering, delivery and pickup methods, and digitization of other traditionally offline processes.
All that can be achieved using various e-commerce platforms. We'd like to show you some of the cases we've encountered in our practice with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, to look into some automated B2B commerce processes and their results for business owners.
2. What B2B Commerce Processes Can Be Automated?
Let's go through some typical processes that can be optimized with the help of e-commerce platforms (Salesforce Commerce Cloud in our case).
B2B Commerce Processes We Have Automated on Salesforce
Inventory and Order Management
The whole process of order fulfillment has to be straightforward and simple. So how can it be achieved?
By setting up product inventory and availability on product detail page and cart, streamlining the check-out flow, updating the order status to make it visible for the customer on a real-time basis, online shipment availability, setting up smooth return workflows and optimizing the delivery processes with necessary 3d party integrations.
Pricing and Catalog Management
In e-commerce, it's extremely important to have a user-friendly website and a customizable shopping cart to retain customers.
For these purposes, we have set up such processes as:
Product bundling, where we have combined several related products into a single commodity that is listed for a lower price than the cost of each product
Bulk product ordering
Multicurrency individual pricing agreements
Payment system integrations
Filters and advanced search possibilities
Quote management systems
It is important to have custom checkouts with flexible payment methods to ensure that buyers can place large volume orders, have full transparency and pay via their preferred platform.
The primary challenge here is to set up shipping costs calculations based on total cart value and shipping service desired.
UI Construction & UX Redesign
We build user-friendly branded websites with responsive design for mobile, tablet, desktop experiences with streamlined checkout processes.
Promotions and loyalty management
Personalized customer discounts and relevant product recommendations, streamlined renewal and subscription management processes.
We've created portals to provide customers with their contracts and order history in one environment. It's also possible to design knowledge portals to handle service cases faster by giving clients all the necessary information and manuals, reducing the workload of service reps.
One can integrate any 3d party software to the solution for a seamless commerce and customer management experience, including payment solutions, chats, social media, shipping, etc.
3. What Business Results To Expect From B2B Ecommerce?
You need to keep in mind that if you want to have a system that will actually be used, you'll need a solid business strategy to back it up. That's why we always run thorough detailed discovery sessions to set the right expectations and ensure great results. So what have we seen as a result of B2B e-commerce automation?
Online revenue growth with a decrease in human errors.
Streamlined online customer experience and more happy customers due to custom catalogs, fast reorders, easy check-out flow, effective bulk pricing, product bundling, contract pricing, etc.
Improved operational efficiency and more sales. As routine manual tasks are automated, salespeople have more time for real sales.
Improved partnership relationships with wholesalers thanks to a more efficient way of online ordering.
Better customer overview. With accurate data from all channels, that enable companies to keep track of their customers resulting in a more effective end-to-end sales and fulfillment processes.
Twistellar can handle any type of Salesforce Commerce Cloud customization as well as 3d party software integrations to help you take your business online and grow it fast and effectively. Make sure to book a free consultation in case you have any questions.
If you have additional questions on how to set it up for your business, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation
Feeling like teaming up with us at Twistellar? We are excited too!Whether you'd like to customize your org, build a bespoke application or integrate a third-party tool, Twistellar is ready to help you.