Whether you’re building a brand new e-commerce webxsite for your B2B business or revamping your existing one, it is important to be aware of and incorporate necessary features that streamline the online sales process for you and your customers.
Now, as you probably know, selling to other businesses is quite different from selling directly to end-consumers. B2B buying and selling encompass several layers of complexities that need to be taken care of when designing your B2B website.
So, to ensure your B2B e-commerce website facilitates a smooth buying experience for clients, here are eight crucial features your site must have:
B2C retail e-commerce stores often allow customers to purchase without creating an account.
However, for your B2B store, customer registration should be mandatory. Only this way can you provide customers access to personalized prices, discounts, products, payment terms, order-tracking, and support they need.
User and Role Management
More often than not, your B2B buyers will comprise a buying team with their own internal hierarchy instead of individual customers. So, your buyers will need to be treated as a company account with their own team – each having their own roles.
You’ll have to provide them the ability to create user roles and assign certain permissions and limits to them in order to manage their internal process more efficiently.
For instance, a customer might want to give someone in their team the ability to research products and compare prices but limit them from making purchase decisions. Similarly, they might want to limit the final purchasing power to the leadership only. Consequently, after the customer registration process, you must allow for user and role management within the customer profile.
In B2C e-commerce, you typically don’t see different price structures for different customers. You and your friend will both see the same pricing on the store. But B2B companies usually have different prices for different customers.
Your business will often have the need to quote different prices to different customers. For example, you might need to quote lower prices for regular customers, a specific price for every combination of SKU and customer, or bulk discounts for a group of customers. For that, your B2B store must have a feature that allows you to offer customer-specific pricing.
Bulk Ordering and Discounts
Many B2B customers would like to place bulk orders online, and thus, you must have a feature that enables them to do that with ease. For instance, you can have a bulk ordering form that allows them to place their order by searching for the product using product names or SKUs.
Rather than browsing the products one by one and visiting product pages, customers can place their orders directly from the bulk order form. This feature is particularly useful for repeat customers who already know exactly what they want and don’t want to waste time browsing through catalogs and visiting individual product pages just to click on the “Add to Cart” button.
And as B2B buyers frequently place bulk orders, it’s a good idea to offer them bulk discounts as well. Consider offering different tiers of discounts based on the quantity/volume ordered. For example, a buyer ordering 1,000 items should be given a higher discount than a buyer ordering 100. So, make sure your e-commerce store has a feature that provides such dynamic prices changing in real-time according to the criteria selected by the buyer.
Most of your registered customers are return customers who make regular purchases and place the same order every time. Now, placing the exact same order every time from scratch would be an unnecessary waste of time. Why not make it more convenient and facilitate more reorders by allowing one-click reorder?
An option to reorder from their order history with a single click would be a huge time-saver for regular customers, and they’d surely appreciate the time saved and show better loyalty to your store.
Support for Sales Reps
Conventional B2B sales representatives often have an aversion for online sales. But with the right features, your B2B e-commerce site can be an asset to sales reps and vice versa.
You must structure your website in a way that reinforces the customer’s relationship with its rep. That is, allow reps to log in as customers and place orders for them. Reps can use the e-commerce site to conveniently check inventory when talking to potential customers, to order samples of products on the customer’s behalf, and to access specifications and sales materials.
Flexible Payment Options
Having flexible payment options is always an advisable feature for any e-commerce store, but it is especially crucial for B2B websites. You likely already offer multiple online methods of payment, but have you considered allowing offline methods of processing a payment?
An example is completing a purchase with an order number and then paying on 30 or 60 days’ credit. If you offer more payment flexibility, your business buyers would be more loyal and willing to have a sustainable relationship that results in more repeat sales. So, consider allowing purchase orders while checkout that gives customers a line of credit.
Real-Time Inventory Updates
Finally, if your customer places an order only to find out later that the products are out of stock, you are very likely to break their confidence in your brand and lose that customer forever.
And so, you must provide accurate information regarding the availability of items on your store with real-time inventory updates. Doing so helps build trust with your B2B customers and encourages a long-term business relationship.
Aanya Rachel is the Content Manager at The Address, a coworking space in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge, experience, and extensive research in this field. She writes on a wide range of topics related to coworking, growth of remote workers, startups and real estate.