If you are looking to sell your products online, you may be wondering just how manufacturers manage national account programs online. You understand how different your accounts are now and likely don’t see an easy way to translate the account management to an online system.
It’s true that managing a national purchasing program comes with many challenges. Each business might receive different pricing based on your contract with them, how they pay, when they order or the quantity of items they order. Pricing can be further complicated by product or employee discounts that you offer.
Many businesses also have rules about which employees can order which items, how many items they can order and how they can order these items. If these businesses have many changes in who they employee, you will also need to frequently update who is authorized to order, giving new employees access while removing permissions from old employees.
Online national account program management also requires specialized customer service. You will need to adjust your current customer service structure to fit with the new online program. While you make this adjustment, you will need to consider how much customer service will still be maintained by the account managers and how much will be delegated to a website customer service team. You will have to consider if shipping locations are still handled the same way logistically and by your customer service representatives. You may even need more customer service team members than before, especially if your website leads to an increase in business.
Fortunately, online account programs have been around for many years, giving manufacturers time to work out solutions to these problems that you can use now. You have options for creating your website and online national account program that can be built to suit your business.
The first option is create a stand-alone website with many rich features and functions built in. On this site, all of the employee permissions, shipping locations, pricing and payment rules can be handled by you the manufacturer – or by the account manager if they prefer. This management takes place online through rules that can be adjusted for each account, offering each account a unique experience on your website.
The second option is to integrate your website with your existing business information. The website integrates real-time with your inventory management, offers product search and can require employee order approval. This approach can help your website stay up-to-date automatically and help you more easily keep track of your inventory, though the ordering process may be a little slower since approval is required.
Either of these options can work for your business and, after they are working smoothly, are likely to save you and your customers time. Customers want the ease of online ordering and account management. By creating your online national account program, you are giving your customers the service they desire and taking advantage of today’s technologies. Online national account program management may be difficult to set up at first, but it will give your business an edge so it can continue to grow in the future.