One way that B2B ecommerce differs from B2C ecommerce is that there are a number of ways to create an order in the B2B ecommerce space. While both ecommerce spaces take advantage of the traditional shop-and-add-to-cart shopping model, in B2B ecommerce shoppers can create orders in a number of ways. Consider the following:
- Saved orders. In B2B ecommerce, saved orders are created by shopping and adding items to a cart, but instead of checking out, the order is saved or submitted for approval. The saved order method is often used as a checkpoint in the purchase process to allow for the verification and approval of an order. This ensures the shoppers have the necessary funds available, are only ordering authorized products, or that there order totals have been applied to a specific account.
- Order from history. This shopping model allows the customer to revisit historical purchases and create a new order based on a previous order. This is often most useful for items that are reordered on a regular basis. Ordering from a historical order is less efficient than other ordering methods as the user must locate the correct previous order to place the new order. This can be dicey if the shopper does not know which order to use.
- Favorites lists. There are many different uses and benefits for using this order architecture. Lists can be used successfully as a single list for a single user, often referred to as “Save for Later” or “Wish” lists. Multiple lists can be created and employed successfully by company department, by season, by geographic location, or by ship-to address.
- Suggested purchases. In this model, the customer is presented with a list items from all previous purchases. The user is allowed to manage the list and make changes as appropriate. This model is a useful way to share what users with a similar profile are purchasing, thereby opening up the customer’s mind to new items or to present cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
- Quotes. Use of a quoting process as a means for order creation is almost exclusively a B2B ecommerce functionality. In this order creation model, the user creates an online quote and is given the opportunity to print it for internal approval. The quoting system collects user information for follow up on deals that stall and helps drive B2B workflows and inventory. The quoting system should include specific rules to manage expiration on pricing and on how long the quote will stay active in the system.
- Subscription orders. Often referred to as “automatic reorder,” this order creation model is set up in advance to automatically send a predetermined order at a prescribed interval and is most often utilized with consumables. For this order creation method to be successful it is necessary that the recipient receive advance notice that an order is about to ship with the option to change or stop the order any time before it ships. There are also payment gateway considerations to keep in mind, as credit card information will need to be stored for future purchases rather than validated once and passed through the system.
- Persistent carts. Borrowed from savvy B2C ecommerce sites, persistent carts in B2B ecommerce “remember” the items that a customer puts into the cart, but abandons before purchase. These carts stay active on the site for a set amount of time so that users can return to complete the purchase. They also allow the company to follow up with the visitor with a triggered email campaign in an attempt to save the sale.
While not every B2B order creation method is appropriate for every B2B ecommerce business, knowing which order creation options are available will ensure that you employ the top methods for your customer base. Allowing customers to purchase in alternative ways ensures that you engage a greater number of your customers in their preferred way ordering method.