B2B Digital Transformation: Part 4 – Key B2B eCommerce Frontend Experience Features

Taking your B2B commerce storefront to the next level

Building next generation B2B eCommerce storefronts requires investing in proven features and capabilities that will increase customer satisfaction, improve sales efficiency and overall have a positive impact on your business from an ROI perspective.

In previous articles of this series, we covered how to identify the pain points and reasons for starting a B2B digital eCommerce transformation, how to get started and create goals to kick off a new project, and five ways to transform the B2B customer experience.  Here we will review 5 must-have eCommerce platform frontend capabilities that will boost conversions, increase return and repeat orders and improve average order value.

These 5 capabilities are:

1. Dynamic Pricing
2. Customer Segmentation
3. Self-service
4. Order History
5. B2B Quoting

#1: Dynamic Pricing

You’ve invested the time and resources to build a storefront with a comprehensive catalog and content for your customers but no one shows up to buy – does this sound familiar? It might sound strange, but one of the biggest challenges that buyers face is that they’re not confident the pricing they’re seeing online is reflective of what they will actually pay (often, as a result of previous buying experiences). So why bother going through the process of shopping through a digital storefront when they’re going to call in their order anyway?

While changing attitudes may take some time (and generational shifts), it’s possible to deliver a portion of that experience to customers.

Simply being visible with the account based pricing and any bulk discounts ensures that customers know how they can find out a final price.

Of course, the ultimate solution for any organization is to deliver completely personalized pricing based on select criteria on an account by account basis. While you may not be ready for complete personalization, the opportunity exists to take the first steps. Any account for bulk purchasing whether through real-time lookup, messaging or individualized product pricing tables adds another level of clarity for your customers when purchasing.

Customers are happy to log in or create new buying accounts if they think they can get special pricing or discounts. In many cases, displaying a “Login to get your pricing” message on a product detail page is enough of an incentive to start the process. For those who don’t want to, leaving the add to cart / buy buttons and allowing the customers to start an order will accomplish the same end result.

#2: Customer Segmentation

Your customers aren’t all the same. So why keep a single, giant, totally non-personal customer list?

Building experiences that rely on customer segmentation don’t have to take the form of complicated and expensive personalization platforms or a massive investment in data analysis or list purchases. Instead, opportunities to leverage existing workflows and basic automation in the backend commerce platform can extend to create a growing number of segments that can be expanded and refined over time.

To begin with, you’re simply leveraging the data that customers are providing when they’re shopping and interacting with your company.

For instance, can customers be grouped into virtual segments that they move in and out of over time based on any number of factors (activity, order history, account age, status, etc.)?

What do you do with the segments once you have them built? That’s up to you – email marketing, sales follow up by email, discounts, promotions – there are many possibilities once you get started.

#3: True Online Self-Service

A customer portal is only as good as the information it delivers and the customer questions it answers. For instance, questions like: “What did I order last month?”, “What’s on my saved items list?”, or “Can I cancel that order?”

Truly self-service means bringing more “management” to the customer. Perhaps the most overlooked piece of the experience on any eCommerce storefront is the “My Account” or customer portal, leaving a lot of untapped potential.

Connecting your customers with their basic account information, order tracking, and delivery information is going to greatly reduce inbound questions and service requests to your team. These types of inquiries can easily bottleneck customer service and disappoint customers when response times become slow.

It’s important to shift your mindset and think of the portal as a sales tool focused on generating repeat orders, onboarding new online customers and creating upsell opportunities.

#4: Order History

Related to the focus on the self-service customer portal and its potential for developing new growth is the opportunity to leverage customer order history.

Consider the opportunity to import historic, non-eCommerce originated orders into the platform and display them within the commerce portal – even if in a limited fashion. For example, you can use and extend the order information for loyalty programs or just for your customers to reference. Delivering that historical set of information gives your customers insight into their entire account, which is especially critical if there have been account changes or new buyers added to the account.

Moving beyond maintaining relationships, order related conveniences like easy-reordering, item-by-item order management, recurring or scheduled orders and more all leverage the order history and listing pages to drive orders without the need to massive rework or redesigns from order history pages.

#5: Quoting

Not only is quoting an afterthought in the commerce development process, but even when it is added the management, process, and follow-up are rarely done well.

Why is online quoting so important? It all comes down to the “state of readiness” – is the customer ready to buy at the time they’re shopping, especially at the first point of contact? All too often product information is lacking or confusing to the customer. When trying to make a purchasing decision and struggling with questions, quoting can allow the customer to make a light commitment and then follow up with a sales rep.

Think of a quote as a saved shopping cart and as a mechanism for your customers to build confidence or an advantage (better discount, new pricing, etc.) before making the final purchase. With so many buyers transitioning to an online first digital shopping experience, providing a measure to allow them to be more confident shouldn’t be overlooked.

In the backend, quoting should encompass a complete workflow with capabilities for communicating approval, changes and handling updates and edits. In addition, imagine a customer requiring approval from a manager or finance department before submitting an order. Digitizing the quote building and management steps allows your customers to move efficiently through a (formerly) complex offline process and make buying decisions.

In Conclusion

Before investing in advanced capabilities – adding complication, cost and allocating resources to build an advanced customer and account management platform – consider the many opportunities to build and enhance your existing storefront. Sometimes all it requires is optimizing existing eCommerce platform capabilities. Get in touch to learn more or schedule a demo with our eCommerce experts.

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