How eCommerce Websites Are Ready to Handle B2B

Building Your eCommerce Website to Elevate Your B2B Interactions

It may surprise you to learn how many of our clients are B2B businesses.

Business to business entails certain things–handshakes, visits to the office, speaking over the phone with a familiar representative, knowing first names. There’s a level of personal treatment and trust expected from B2B relationships because they’re expected to last for a significant length of time.

On the other hand, a B2C relationship has the lifespan of a mayfly–the kind of transaction that can easily (and sometimes preferably) be carried out with a digital shopping cart and limited human interaction.

Because of the high-level experience that’s expected from a B2B business, there’s this mistaken, entrenched belief that eCommerce websites are best only for B2C transactions. That’s incorrect.

Not Just for B2C

The reason B2B transactions demand a high-level interaction is because, at one point in time, it was the only way to correctly communicate details like shipping and delivery dates, location, production, and quantities. But with advances made in website technology, that’s no longer the case.

Understandably, there’s a complicated sequence of events and a lot of management occurring that your sales team want to be able to control. While an eCommerce website may not entirely replace the interactions you have in place, it can definitely become a supportive resource for existing clients, and a helpful tool for generating new leads.

Here’s what a well-strategized eCommerce website can do for your B2B transactions.

1. Increase Operational Efficiency

The chief benefit of a modern website is its ability to assist your existing customers with day to day ordering and replenishment. This means processing less phone orders on your end, and empowering your client to maneuver these details whenever they need to, without having to carve time out of their schedule to go through the process of reaching out to you directly.

And while the idea of entrusting a webform to handle your client’s transactions may queue ringing alarms, you won’t have to worry about a loss of efficiency or uncoordinated transactions–a well-planned website is just as capable of handling the many details attributed to B2B transactions as a customer service representative. It also puts self-service control into your customer’s hands, something they will value.

2. Manage Order Processes From a Central Location

A website lays out complicated, major logistical elements–allowing for more order management capabilities on your client’s side. But this also makes processes simpler for you as well. Website integrations that manage sophisticated order and post-order systems can assist with the production process. Integrations allow the front-end of your website to “communicate” with your other systems, like ERP systems, CRM systems, your email service, and whatever other tools you use to support your business. This means automation in the place of tedious data entry, immediate action, and an easier management process for you.

3. A Better Greeting For New Leads

Most B2B businesses primarily convert new leads from referrals. However, that doesn’t mean an interested lead won’t research your business online before contacting you. It’s better to have a well-strategized website in place–with an easily navigable home page that reflects your brand–than to maintain a website with an outdated design.

Wishlists, shipping dates, payment options, shopping carts, multiple addresses, web forms–these are universal attributes of eCommerce transactions for both B2B and B2C websites. The major difference between the two comes from the customer experience. If a B2B business is expected to offer a higher-touch experience for their clients, it stands that they would want to maintain the same experience in all aspects of their brands.

Seattle Chocolates: A B2B Website Case Study

Seattle Chocolates, a chocolate company based out of Seattle, sells chocolate to both individual customers as well as wholesale. In general, their wholesale customers are familiar with their product lines and they wanted to create a very streamlined ordering system so they could zip through and quickly place bulk purchases. Their wholesale customers used to fax order forms, but now they have accounts with prior order history for quick reorder, and just an online order sheet where they can run through and add quantities and place a bulk order quickly. We built their eCommerce website with a Magento® platform, integrating it directly into their ERP so orders pass seamlessly through to the chocolate factory.

Seattle Chocolates

Ready For Business

Some web publishers are calling for a change to eCommerce websites, specifically to “consumerize” B2B. While you don’t want to fall behind, you don’t want to appear outdated, and you especially don’t want to become a pain-point for your clients–you also don’t want to sacrifice that customer care that distinguishes B2B. After all, what makes B2B different is what can make B2B websites better–a rich and engaging experience.

If you have any questions about evaluating your own B2B website for an improved eCommerce experience, please feel free to contact us directly or connect with us on social.