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B2B E-Commerce Platform:
Aiming for the perfect customer experience

With a B2B e-commerce platform, companies ensure an exceptional customer experience, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and their willingness to buy.

Amazon, eBay, Zalando – customers now routinely use online shops to obtain product information, make choices at their leisure and place their orders in a convenient manner. And that no longer applies just to books or shoes. Screws and wall plugs, machines and equipment, hardware and software are now also purchased online. Apart from the products and services on offer, ensuring that B2B customers will fill the shopping cart and actually click on the ‘Buy’ button requires one thing above all: impressing them with a superb customer experience.  Not only will that increase their level of satisfaction and therefore their loyalty to the company. The perfect customer experience  will also enhance their willingness to buy.

Anybody who wishes to provide such an exceptional experience in their online shop needs a solid technological basis, a high-performance B2B e-commerce platform. Such a platform brings together all the relevant information from the company’s different systems and controls all purchasing and sales processes. This has a two-fold effect. First, customer expectations can be fulfilled or even exceeded. And secondly, the entire process flow is slimmed down considerably, from the compilation and ongoing maintenance of the product data to the handling of the delivery.

To create an outstanding customer experience, companies first need to put themselves in the customers’ shoes. What is their intention when they visit the online shop? What information are they looking for? And how do they go about it? What obstacles may there be to stop them placing an order?  If you can answer these questions you can design the frontend so that visitors find their way around intuitively, can access all the required information and are guided purposefully from the respective landing page to order placement.

The customer experience becomes even better when the online shop can adapt to the respective visitor – for instance after a customer login. The starting page, for instance, could be configured according to the visitor’s known interests and focus on information about new products, particularly special offers, and company news or upcoming events that match the visitor’s past buying and surfing behavior. As the B2B e-commerce platform learns more and more about an individual customer, the personalization becomes ever more precise.

Customers’ buying behavior can be influenced via different recommendation functionalities, such as automatically generated cross and up-selling measures. This involves products or services being offered to the customer in the course of the buying process that match the selected goods (machine accessories) or upgrade them (better-equipped version of a machine). Recommendations represent another useful tool. Customers who buy a high-end laptop for office use frequently buy a docking station to go with it.

Especially when larger volumes are involved, customers expect to be offered a custom quotation rather than having to pay the list price for the individual products and services. This applies particularly in the B2B sector. An e-commerce platform supports the quotation process by recording the customer’s inquiry and passing it on to the responsible member of sales staff. That employee determines a custom price, obtains internal approval if necessary and then provides the price information to the customer via the online shop. B2B e-commerce platforms that do not display any price information work on the same principle. The customers place items in the shopping cart and receive a custom quotation.

Larger companies in particular tend to use a procurement system to organize their purchasing activities. To these B2B customers, the so-called PunchOut process is attractive – and they may actually insist on it. They define their requirements in their own solution and then transfer to the supplier’s online shop. There, they select the desired products and place them in the shopping cart. As they are logged in with their account, the purchasing process then deviates from the standard procedure. The shop transmits the shopping cart contents to the procurement system and the order is placed from there.

Approval workflows can be integrated as well. It is possible, for example, to define upper limits for individual buyers, either for the price of individual items or for the shopping cart total. If an order exceeds this limit, the person’s supervisor is automatically informed, who can then check and approve the purchase.

Workflows for managing budgets are also of interest to many companies. This enables customers to set up individual cost centers in their account to which budgets are assigned. When an order is placed, the system will check whether there are still sufficient funds available in the particular cost center’s budget; if not, defined routines are triggered, such as involving a buyer with higher-level authorization, for instance.

The activities taking place on a B2B e-commerce platform generate a great deal of information that is valuable to the entire customer relationship management. Consequently, the customers’ behavior in the online shop, all the orders they place as well as the instances when purchasing transactions are abandoned should be recorded. This will build up a detailed picture of the customer over time. That knowledge can then be used to address each customer individually. A certain activity on the B2B e-commerce platform can, for instance, trigger the sending of an e-mail message. Or if a new user registers with the online shop, a lead is created automatically. A member of the sales staff can then contact the visitor directly and turn a prospective customer into a real customer.

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B2B Sales Platform Bundles Information and Organizes Workflows

By providing a B2B sales platform, companies enable their sales staff to meet demanding customers eye to eye. It also speeds up workflows.