This year has proven that the E-commerce model is not only meant for online-only stores. It is now an essential cog in the wheel for Brick and Mortar retailers as well.
While the figures are emphatic for B2C E-commerce uniform businesses, the figures are gradually rising for B2B business as well who are adopting the E-Commerce way.
Although in its infancy, the rate at which B2B E-commerce sales are increasing indicates that B2B customers are growing more comfortable with E-commerce and online engagement.
Consequently, B2B companies are being forced to fundamentally rethink how, when and why they engage customers and support their needs with dynamic commerce infrastructure.
Uniform industry research shows that B2B customers have substantially shifted their research and transaction activities online and onto their mobile devices.
Need of getting the User Interface right
Selling B2B is various things, including:
- Distribution relationships with large or chain retailers.
- Selling to organizations (schools, businesses, non-profits).
- Supplier selling to resellers.
This puts a lot at stake for a B2B uniform business owner. Their ideal uniform customer is much more valuable on a per order value basis as compared to a B2C uniform customer. Losing a single customer will make a dent in the monthly sales report.
For a B2B E-commerce store to be successful, the website needs to compliment the business model effectively and should deliver buying and engagement options that go beyond print catalogs and voice call order.
Customer On-Boarding And Store Navigation
B2B uniform customers today want to be treated as individuals, not as companies or account numbers. The B2B customer interface should treat them accordingly as well.
Right from the moment they first land on the website until they check-out, the customer experience should focus on making the ordering process as simplistic as possible.
Following are few features one should be aware of while setting up a B2B E-commerce customer experience.
PRODUCT’S DETAILED INFORMATION
In a B2B business model, discussing product quantities, descriptions, variations are usually agreed upon over a phone call or business brunches.
With E-commerce in the picture now, it is a lot easier to get the information through to the shopper.
Yet, it is essential that each minor or major details of a product should be accessible on the website for the shopper. So, customers can know as much as there is to know about a product.
For each product customers should have options of downloading the following:
- Product Sheets: It will include the product variants information and description.
- Imprint template: It will show the measurement and the actual size of the products.
Missing out on any of this will mean that they will seek it elsewhere.
HANDLING SHIPPING COSTS
As businesses order their products in bulk, they are much more concerned about the shipping costs.
Displaying shipping cost for the deliverable upfront is not just an effective conversion tactic, but should be mandatory for B2B businesses.
This allows merchants to fetch accurate shipping cost from the shipping providers which can be displayed it to the user automatically based on the following parameters:
- Service type
- Product weight
Ordering And Quotes
Once bulk orders from businesses start coming in, the order management section of a B2B E-commerce store can become intimidating and difficult to work with for the customers.
Ensuring a neat and minimal order management interface that is productive for your customers and yourself is a necessity.
DIFFERENT BASE PRICES
When you deal with multiple businesses as your customers, you might have to offer different sets of prices for different customers based on the customer’s history with your store.
This is applicable to B2B deals happening over your E-commerce website as well.
Merchants must have the ability to sell products at different base prices based on their customers.
A tiered pricing structure that varies from customer to customer allows you to analyze the behavioral analytics of your potential buyers and what is being offered by your competitors as well to come up with a competitive price to stay ahead of the competition.
A value-based discount strategy and effective execution of discounting policies can help a B2B business to prosper and stay ahead of the competition.
Hence, having an easy to manage sales/discounts management system that either allows you to manually or automatically manage the sales value and duration is a norm for all B2B E-commerce stores.
The discounts can be based on the cart value, cart quantity, or any other factor that suits the product niche, the gist is it should complement your B2B discount policy.
It is the essential feature of a B2B E-commerce website and usually the most time to consume once.
Often, the product import will mean the store manager will have to create a CSV file with all the product information including product categories, attributes, and other relevant data.
Not only is this process slow due to the huge product listing of a B2B website, the chances of a pilot error also increase.
However, if we can configure your E-commerce system to import the CSV data in multiple steps, it will substantially decrease the loading time as well as silly blunders during data entry.
Here’s what we did for one of our B2B clients:
We divided the CSV upload process into three steps:
- Category import: Merchant can import categories or subcategories of their product in this section.
- Product import: Only products need to be imported here.
- Log file: Missing attributes and product details can be added here later.
By dividing the import process into above three steps it made the product upload process substantially quick.
REAL-TIME INVENTORY DATA
You don’t want your B2B customer to order 1000 pieces of stationery items just to find out at the checkout page that you are 100 short of their desired quantity in your inventory.
Hence, Keeping the inventory data transparent with the customers is essential.
You can have a centralized database for your Ecommerce website and integrate multiple sales channels like POS and ERP with it as well.
This will not only make sure that you are always displaying the correct inventory values, but will also improve your forecasts for the next inventory refill.
ORDER STATUS TRACKING
Ins a B2B model, customers might have customers of their own. This means, the status of an order might be providing updates to other business processes.
Order tracking is a key to success in all different types of supply chain models, whether it is a Just in time model or Distribution model.
B2B E-commerce websites should show the detailed order status to their merchants.
This can be effectively achieved by integrating a 3rd party CRM with your website and using it to effectively communicate the order status with your customers.
- Order received or not
- Confirmation sent
- Order approved
- Paid in full
- In production
The Future of B2B Commerce is B2C-like Experiences
Remember that your B2B clients are not faceless account numbers. They are, at their core, humans who are conditioned to expect seamless, personalized shopping experiences online.
Deliver on those expectations (across all touch points and channels), and your business will enjoy greater process efficiency, lower cost of customer acquisition, and generally more satisfied customers.
Here at UniformMarket powered by Sellers Commerce, we provide you with tools such as B2B Program Manager and Retailer Pro, which can connect you with the products and data you need for your employees or business. Whether you are a uniform retailer or an energy company needing to fit your employees with new uniforms and gear, we have the tools and services for you. Contact us for a demo today!