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Lower Your Costs with B2B eCommerce

We live in an age that’s all about instantaneous gratification. The power to steer the buying journey lies more in the customer’s hands than ever before – and they certainly know how to drive. They expect to see personalized and relevant experiences and find the answers they need quickly and efficiently, whether in B2C or B2B scenarios.

According to a 2018 Forrester survey, B2B buyer appetite for digital ordering tools is continually increasing, and self-service methods are overwhelmingly preferred. In fact, roughly 2/3 of buyers say they prefer not to interact with a sales representative when conducting research.

In order to give customers the experiences they are looking for, manufacturers and distributors need to enable them to self-serve. This can be accomplished through utilizing digital commerce solutions that are built around B2B complexities like multiple personas, workflows, approvals, and more. Giving your customers the ability to self-serve is a win-win, because ultimately it lowers your costs to serve them. Here’s how:

Your Customers Are in Control

The reason many manufacturers and distributors originally turn to eCommerce is because they simply cannot be open 24 hours per day. However, we know that customers don’t play by the 9-5 rules. They research on their own time.

There are so many aspects of the B2B buying process that can be managed on a self-service basis. Give your customers the power to login and see their information like pre-negotiated prices, order history, invoices and more. Additionally, customers can take action by submitting quote requests, ordering samples, creating lists and reordering.

Self-service is also about giving your customers control over their experiences. For example, your customer can login as an administrator and make customizations to their experience on your site. They can give access and set permissions for others in their company, assign different people the ability to see certain products or request a quote, depending on their roles. These kinds of experiences are unique to the B2B industry.

Lower the Amount of Resources it Takes Your Team to Serve the Customer

Enabling your customers to self-serve means lowering the amount of resources it takes for your CSRs, field service technicians, sales team and other internal stakeholders to do their jobs. With an eCommerce platform that is built for B2B, you are able to give your customers access to information on their own and you can limit the amount of resources you are using internally.

Example scenario:

A customer calls a product manager at a manufacturer with a question about a particular product. The product manager does not have the information they need right away and tells the customer they will call back with an answer soon. After the product manager consults a few people and does some of their own research the product manager calls the customer back. The customer informs the product manager they already have the information they need. Come to find out, the customer had called 15 different people in the company looking for the answer on their own.

In this particular instance the customer had 15 people working on the same problem, holding up your most valuable resources – your team. If you cannot provide the information your customers need quickly and efficiently, they will do what they can on their own to find the right information. Sometimes you even get customers calling sales teams after hours or on the weekends forcing them to respond and dedicate their personal time to customers. With eCommerce, that time is freed up.

You have to consider how much it costs to meet with your customers, help guide them through the process and assist them with finding the information they need about certain products.  Though sales people will never go away and the B2B buying experience is a hybrid one that requires digital enablement and traditional channels, giving your customers the ability to self-serve is one of the most valuable aspects of deploying a B2B eCommerce solution.

Empower your Team to Deliver More Value to Your Customers

How can sales people be efficient and help drive new sales if they are spending all their time chasing down order status, quotes and trying to find out the status of shipments? Giving your customer the ability to self-serve for mundane tasks like these frees up your sales people to perform higher value services.

Additionally, in B2B it’s not uncommon for about 80% of your business to come from 20% of your customers. While every customer is important, you want to give those large, strategic key customers personalized experiences. You don’t want your sales people to get bogged down by small but noisy customers.

B2B eCommerce done right gives those smaller, noisy customers access to their information on their own so you can focus on increasing what you sell to your larger customers.

Get a Comprehensive View of Customer Information

The challenge with B2B – and this is where many eCommerce vendors miss the mark – is that not everything is happening online. Unlike its B2C cousin, B2B commerce happens online and offline. Many eCommerce vendors who got their start in B2C eCommerce don’t realize the complexity of B2B. B2C platforms often give you the online snapshot but fail to give you a good view of what is occurring offline.

Insite goes beyond what’s happening online. InsiteCommerce® for example, integrates with your ERP and other backend office systems to call upon the data that already exists. A lot of offline orders are retained in the ERP. Ease of integration allows you to not only see orders placed online, but orders placed through traditional channels like CSRs, email or fax.

Ultimately lowering the costs to serve your customers is about making it easier for your customers to do business with you and making the buying process more efficient for them. It’s about giving your customers the ability to buy the way they want to buy and engage the way they want to engage. These business transformations are all possible with eCommerce built for the complexities and intricacies of B2B.

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Manufacturing and distribution companies know that the true value of digital commerce is the ability to make it easier for your customers to do business with you. The B2B buyer is often responsible for purchasing products from one to many vendors or product types

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