Today’s customers expect businesses to provide fast, easy, and secure online purchasing experiences—regardless of whether it’s a B2C or B2B transaction. To keep their customers satisfied and maintain a competitive edge, manufacturers and distributors are following in the footsteps of retailers like Walmart and Target by bringing the customer experience online.
With a modern, self-service B2B sales portal, you can enable buyers to create orders, configure products, make purchases, view transaction history, and more—all at their preferred time, location, and device, and without the assistance of a sales representative. However, in comparison to your standard online storefront, building and managing a B2B portal can be extra complicated, since buyers often come with very specific goals and requirements.
One of the key ingredients to a successful digital transformation of your B2B sales process is personalization. This means delivering tailored experiences for different types of buyers, based on client needs, market trends, data analytics, and so on. According to a recent study, 72% of B2B buyers expect personalized portals that resemble B2C eCommerce, and 69% of B2B companies are actively leveraging data to enhance their personalization efforts.
Let’s look at six areas of the customer journey where B2B eCommerce personalization can truly make a difference in terms of engagement, conversions, and sales.
Whether it be for strategic or regulatory reasons, wholesalers typically only sell certain products to certain clients. In a traditional B2B sales process, the sales rep can easily enforce the established selling rules, as they’re heavily involved in the creation and execution of each order. But to support these buyer parameters on a self-service portal, some level of personalization will be required.
When a customer is browsing your product catalog, it’s imperative that they’re only presented with items available to them. Otherwise, your portal could come off as cumbersome and unprofessional. This starts with breaking customers up into segments, establishing selling rules for each segment, then deploying intelligent software to deliver personalized product catalogs.
With an efficient system for collecting, storing, and analyzing historical sales data, you can automatically deliver personalized product recommendations.
Each time a client views a product page or makes a purchase, your portal will—in a sense—learn more about their wants and needs. So when they come back to make a new order, they are instantly presented with specific products—as well as specific product configurations—that match what they’re looking for, based on past behavior and preferences. This helps create a faster, more convenient buyer experience, leading to higher engagement and sales.
Like product availability, pricing rules for B2B sales often vary depending on the buyer. Legacy clients, for example, may get cheaper prices than newer clients, if they began doing business with the wholesaler before a new pricing model was introduced.
To accommodate personalized pricing rules, along with dynamic pricing strategies, your B2B sales portal must be supported by intelligent business logic and smooth integrations between different internal systems, like your eCommerce platform, ERP, and product information management (PIM) solution.
In many B2B scenarios, the buyer needs to know exactly how much product inventory is available, or available to promise (ATP), as this helps them with their own internal business planning. And again, meeting customer expectations is the name of the game when designing self-service sales portals. If the client has to call or email a sales rep to find this information, then the purpose of the portal is defeated.
With the right systems integrations, you can display personalized ATP inventory numbers so that users know exactly what quantities they can purchase at any given time. These numbers will fluctuate depending on buyer type, market demand, and other factors.
In addition to personalized product catalogs, recommendations, and prices, B2B buyers expect personalized shipping rules to round out the eCommerce experience. If your customers regularly ship multiple items to multiple locations under a single order, then your sales portal needs to support that. This will require an efficient transfer of data from your eCommerce platform, to your ERP, to your third-party logistics provider, and any other vendors involved in the order fulfillment process.
Some customers, on the other hand, may only require basic shipping capabilities, similar to that of a traditional eCommerce storefront. With a solid personalization strategy, you can automatically display tailored shipping options, based on rules established for different customer segments.
When a client logs onto your B2B sales portal, they should be able to view previous purchases, scheduled orders, delivery status, invoices, and other information relevant to their account. This kind of personalization makes it easier for buyers to replicate past orders, stay on top of tasks, recover data for their own records, and so on.
Here, it’s important to note that all order information should be accessible inside the client’s personalized portal—even if the order was processed outside the portal, such as over the phone, in person, or by email.
Get started with B2B eCommerce personalization
Building a modern B2B sales portal—then leveraging data to personalize product recommendations, pricing, inventory, shipping, and account management—requires an advanced technological ecosystem. You need custom applications and third-party integrations that help match the expectations of your business' customers, along with the requirements of its employees and external vendors. So where do you start?
By teaming up with Codal, you can focus on running your business while we design, develop, test, launch, and maintain a data-driven, highly personalized B2B sales portal that maximizes customer engagement, conversions, and sales. Our award-winning team has over thirteen years of experience helping organizations bring the B2B sales process online via cutting-edge tools and strategies that are built to scale.
Recently, we deployed a sales portal for one of our clients in the fashion and decor space, where wholesale buyers can quickly and easily purchase products for their stores in bulk. And you can learn more about that project here.
To learn more about B2B eCommerce personalization, and how Codal can help optimize your business’ digital presence and back-office systems, get in touch with a member of our team today!