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B2B eCommerce Solutions: How A B2B eCommerce Portal Can Help Your Business

  B2B eCommerce, B2B eCommerce Portal

b2b ecommerce

Looking for a B2B eCommerce solution for your business can be a frustrating and challenging task. With so many different products and services out there, you are probably lost over what is the ideal solution for your business. Today, we will guide and help you understand more about one of these solutions: a dedicated eCommerce portal for your B2B customers.

A business-to-business eCommerce (B2B) portal is the online platform that provides your B2B wholesale customers a personalized view of your product catalog, their orders, and up-to-date marketing and sales information. Your customers can make new orders, track their current orders, and make payments at their convenience.

Why having a B2B eCommerce Portal Is Important

Here are the three primary reasons why a B2B eCommerce portal is essential for your growing business.

1. Customer Empowerment 

Customers want self-service. According to Microsoft’s 2016 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 90% of customers worldwide expect businesses to provide customer self-service online portals. 55% of global customers say their customer service interactions now begin online. With a B2B online platform, you can meet customers’ expectations and empower them to self-serve. Customers are more likely to be loyal to your brand if you provide better customer service, even if you sell similar products to those of your competitors.

2. Reduce Your Team’s Workload

reduce your team workload

Running a business is not easy. Responding to business customers’ needs takes up a lot of time. A B2B portal will save you time by providing an additional communications channel for your customers other than email and phone calls. Furthermore, your customers can track order and shipment statuses themselves, which saves your sales and customer support team from hours of work responding to emails and phone calls. Online ordering also improves your operation by eliminating human order errors.  Often, order errors cost companies countless hours of work and stress.

At the same time, your customers will be happier that they can get answers to their questions quickly, at any time, from any place. With a B2B eCommerce portal, customers can make their orders at any time. Instead of just taking orders, your sales team can focus on upselling and promoting new products.

3. Grow Your Market

grow your market

A B2B e-commerce portal will enable you to present personalized information to your B2B business customers, providing them more convenience and support. A public-facing catalog helps you to reach new customers, while a private, personalized catalog for your customers shows your negotiated prices and customer vertical-exclusive products. Customers expect to shop online, even when it comes to business and wholesale.

After potential customers come to your site, you can further increase your sales by adding automated cross-sell and up-sell recommendation programs. These programs offer relevant shopping suggestions to customers based on their shopping habits.

Here Are The Features You Should Be Expecting In A B2B eCommerce Portal

Now that we know why a B2B eCommerce portal can be valuable for your business, let us take a look at what features you may need in a B2B eCommerce solution.

1.Branding and Customization

customization

Having a B2B online portal, you can showcase your brand identity, i.e., your logo, colors, and company information. Your customers going from your main website to your B2B portal should experience a seamless transition. They should inherently know they could trust that the online platform is your web property.

Therefore, it is important that your online platform supports customization of look and feel. You should be able to upload your logo and have that displayed prominently. Customization of colors on all pages should be possible, along with information on the page and in the headers and footers.

Lastly, a best-in-class eCommerce portal should allow you to use a custom domain. Typically, you would then place it at a subdomain of your current domain, e.g., wholesale.your-brand.com. You could then share it directly with your customers, as a part of your website.

2.Custom Catalogs and Pricing

With a B2B eCommerce platform, your business can display eye-catching images and helpful descriptions of your products for customers to browse through. Importantly, most B2B eCommerce solutions provide the ability to customize the products shown and the pricing for those products on an individual customer basis, if needed.

If your business sells products to some customers and not others, a B2B eCommerce portal should enable you to show or hide products in your catalog, based on the customer type.

Your B2B customers also likely come in many sizes. As a result, you may be supporting a number of different negotiated prices for your products. Your B2B eCommerce portal should allow you to set up discounts for a number of different scenarios: individual customers, customers of a particular type, unique products or sub-products, or products of a specific category, etc..

3.Self-Service Order Management

The primary goal of using a B2B eCommerce solution is to allow your customers to input their orders, anytime and from anywhere they want. An online store is always open, so allowing customers to make orders at their convenience is a given.

That said, most wholesale businesses have lead-time rules, order cut-off rules, and more. A good eCommerce portal supports these rules. It should allow you to set up lead times on products, order cut-off hours, and minimum order requirements. Doing so will help your business limit orders or warn customers when they order in violation of those rules.

Then, with your orders now saved in the platform, your customers can easily log in and track their orders online. The countless phone calls and emails from your customers will be reduced heavily, or turn into discussions of the new products they should try.

4.Integrations with 3rd Party Accounting, Payment, and Fulfillment Applications

integrations

To allow your business to run more efficiently, a B2B eCommerce portal should enable you to have orders synced to your accounting and shipping applications, for example, applications like QuickBooks Online and ShipStation. That way, you will not have to worry about duplicate entries appearing throughout your workflow.

Also, if the B2B portal supports payments either natively or through payment providers such as Stripe, your customers can order and pay in one place. Using a connected B2B portal can automate manual steps of your workflow and tie your business together more cohesively. Thus, you have more free time to focus on other aspects of your business.

Even if you do not integrate the B2B portal with your other back-office applications, the B2B portal should allow you to export your order data in an accessible format, e.g., a csv, which can be easily imported into other applications.

Is A Dedicated B2B eCommerce Portal the best B2B eCommerce Solutions for your business?

So why pick a B2B eCommerce portal over other B2B eCommerce solutions that exist in the market? Below, we compare a few of these solutions commonly used by a business. Our criteria are selected based on what is important when doing B2B business online. The three solutions we will be comparing are:

  • A dedicated B2B eCommerce Portal
  • A B2C eCommerce website configured for B2B
  • A B2B marketplace list

Features

Dedicated B2B eCommerce Portal

B2C eCommerce Website Configured for B2B

B2B Marketplace Listing

What is it good for?

Wholesale selling. Complex price levels, order rules, order cut-off’s

Branding and customization of your B2B solution.

New B2B customer acquisition

Customizable Catalogs

Yes

Yes, by purchasing and installing additional plugins

No

Customizable Price

Yes

Yes, by purchasing and installing additional plugins

No

Customizable Interface and Ability to Brand

Yes

Yes

No

Visibility

High

High

Low (competing with other competitors that are on the platform.) 

Cost

Low monthly subscription cost (if you host or purchase a B2B portal)

Low monthly subscription cost (if you host or purchase a B2C portal)

Varies, but typically a revenue share of 5-15%

In addition to the above solutions we compared, you could also develop your own B2B eCommerce solution. While that would certainly deliver all the functionality you need, it could be costly and time-consuming, and we would not recommend it with so many affordable options around. A dedicated B2B eCommerce portal may be the best fit for wholesale sellers, and it is simple to try. In fact, most vendors offer free trials and easy tools to ease the import of products and customers into the system.

Here’s How To Get Started, And What Results To Expect

If you are ready to try a B2B eCommerce portal, allow us to tell you more about one option to try a dedicated B2B eCommerce portal. Sweet’s B2B eCommerce portal can offer your customers a modern wholesale experience by allowing them to order through your own branded customer platform. The best part of it, it only takes a few minutes to set it all up before you can start selling.

To get a sense of how your company might benefit. Let us tell you about one of our clients, Mame’s Burritos. Sweet helped Mame’s Burritos cut down time spent on inputting customer orders by 88%, from 16 hours to just 2 hours each week.

Before using Sweet, Mame’s Burritos was having difficulty in managing their orders. Here are some of the problems they were having.

  • Mame’s were operating on a manual ordering process with orders coming in from so many different touch points such as phone call and emails.
  • They spent over 16 hours each week managing orders alone.
  • They suffered from order errors that arose due to miscommunication of orders on the phone or copy & paste errors from the customer’s email to their order spreadsheet.

After launching Sweet’s B2B eCommerce Portal:

  • Mame’s reduced the time it took to process orders on a weekly basis by 88%, from 16 hours to 2 hours.
  • 95% of their customers were receptive to using the B2B platform to manage their orders. Customers found it easy to set up and now could order and change their orders at their convenience.

It was a true win-win situation for Mame’s and their customers.

What are you waiting for? Get a FREE 14-day trial to have a go at Sweet’s B2B eCommerce Portal as well as to experience Sweet’s other inventory management features.

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