Creating a user experience that simplifies the purchase process for business users often requires additional functionality that is not offered on consumer-focused sites. While the tools that provide such functionality add a layer of complexity, there are a number of B2B sellers leading the way. With the right software and partner, you can solve B2B challenges and create an efficient ecommerce experience.
Special capabilities for the B2B space are growing more common. Let’s look at some sites that have implemented functionality to better serve their B2B customer base.
Quick Order (also known as Bulk Order, Order by SKU, or Fast Order Pad) lets customers who know what they want to order quickly type in the SKU and quantity and add several items to their cart. In some instances, sites will provide the capability to copy and paste a list of SKUs or to upload a comma-separated values (CSV) file that lists out SKUs and quantities to be added to the cart.
This is a great tool if your business customers are familiar with your products, perhaps through your catalog. If your customers know what they want to buy, or buy the same items repeatedly, this is a way to simplify their ordering process.
Here is an example of this functionality from Grainger:
If you are selling a product that your customer is likely to want again in the future, offer them the ability to buy on a recurring basis. Subscriptions are a great way to create ongoing revenue, increase your customer lifetime value, provide you with the ability to project future revenue, and offer convenience to your customers.
We often think of subscriptions as a consumer service, but business users benefit from subscriptions as well. Here is an example from NewPig.com allowing customers to purchase their absorbent sock on a subscription. Note how NewPig allows you to determine the frequency with which you want to receive shipments:
Request a Quote
It’s a common practice for business users to request a quote when they are purchasing a larger quantity products or if they do a large volume of business with you. In some instances, companies are hesitant to offer ecommerce because they believe their customers expect to have a quote provided to them to get the best price.
Consider offering the ability to purchase online and provide a Request a Quote feature as well. That is what FirstPlaceSupply.com does. You can purchase products directly, or you can request a quote for products and your quote is submitted through their ecommerce site in a format that is easy for their sales team to respond to quickly for efficient order processing.
This site is running on BigCommerce and leverages the QuoteNinja app:
When a business is buying products, there could be multiple people at an organization purchasing from you. There may only be certain people allowed to approve an order, and individuals may have different spending limits or be limited to purchasing certain products. Consider how your digital commerce site will support an organization in the different user roles and permissions appropriate for them. By providing these capabilities you make it more likely an organization will purchase from you, and once they have set up user approvals, they are less likely to go elsewhere.
Here is an example from MSCDirect.com (from their Order Approval Guide):
Online Credit Applications
Businesses often will purchase on credit and will be approved up to a certain credit limit for purchases. Many organizations require an application and approval process that can slow down a purchase if the organization doesn’t already have an account established. Consider enabling buyers to apply for credit online with a service that can offer instant credit approval during checkout.
This example from SafetyGlassesUSA.com shows the online credit approval process that is powered by Apruve:
Companies that sell configurable products often wonder whether ecommerce is an option for them. The answer is yes! Building functionality that allows users to digitally configure products creates efficiency for your sales team, enables your customers to better visualize and plan their purchase, and enables you to serve your customer better.
This example is from BOSTONtec.com, and the configurator is powered by ThreeKit:
Product recommendations have been around for a while. Content recommendations powered by machine learning is a powerful tool that enables you to provide the most relevant information to your customer. Business customers want additional information to ensure they are purchasing the right product, including specifications, instructions, and buying guides.
As you show customers the information that is most of interest to them, you gain their trust, establish yourself as an expert, and build a relationship with them. It enhances and often simplifies your customer service experience. This example is from SME.org, powered by Content Recommendations from Episerver:
Strong B2B functionality is all about serving customers better—helping them to find what they need and accomplish their goals more efficiently. These tools often help companies see how they can transition their B2B sales process to a digital setting. New capabilities will continue to be offered as we collectively work towards this goal.
Talk with your customers and find out what would make their lives easier, and then get started!
Lori McDonald is the founder, president and CEO of Brilliance Business Solutions, a web development firm that implements digital commerce solutions for manufacturers and distributors. Follow her on Twitter @lorimcd and on LinkedIn.Favorite