Nowadays, B2B customers need a simple, intuitive way to place orders and manage their accounts. They need to do it online and have 24/7/365 access to the product, sales, or engineering tools. Most often, corporate websites contain general information about the company’s activities and range of products or services, but it is not enough to drive digital sales. However, the B2B customer portal makes it possible.
What is B2B portal?
B2B customer portal is a software solution for online collaboration with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and other counterparties. B2B portal provides personalized access to the information and ensures effective interaction with the company, regardless of the location, time difference, device, and type of action.
B2B portal allows effectively collaborate with customers, as well as quickly close deals, control purchases and deliveries and what is the most important - do it in the real-time.
Traditional purchasing process is as follows:
- The customer requests information about the right product based on the requirements.
- The sales person sends relevant information and discuss the final project scope (product, set or system).
- When the project is ready to order, the customer creates a request for quotation (RFQ).
- The sales manager creates an offer and sends the information back to the customer.
- The order is made by the customer after all negotiations.
It seems quite simple but in practice, the whole process is time-consuming and typically not transparent. Finding the right product in the catalog, email exchange, offer creating, takes hours or sometimes days of work. Nevertheless, many companies still used this approach and it might work well, but only with a limited customer base and on very complex product range – typically custom made. Standardized products, or standardized configuration process allows to automate it in more than 80%.
If the company have 5-10 regular requests, the sales managers can spend several hours working with them, and the rest of the time to look for new customers. What if we are talking about 100-200 regular requests (not orders) weekly? With a bigger customer database, sales manager will no longer be able to work effectively and many of customer might wait days to receive an answer, and most of the time will be spent on processing all request. This begs the natural question of how much time manager will spend on finding new clients?
Time-consuming process is not only on the company’s side, but also on the customers. Very often, they must spend a lot of time collecting the information to find the right product from catalogs, calculate price and coordinate them by emails or phone. Furthermore, experiencing difficulties they may choose another vendor, thereby losing the loyalty.
24/7 sales and new markets without limits
B2B customers are provided with instant access to the product and service information of your company. You are no longer depended on time zones, and so you can reach more potential customers all around the world. Your customers can make orders even at night without waiting for the manager’s working hours or replace/change the order just in few clicks in the system.
Convenience and speed of order management
How do your customers make an order? Traditionally they used to do it by phone, email, form on the website or in face-to-face negotiations. However, with B2B portal customers can do it more effectively and quickly collect an order: easily navigate digital catalog, enter the SKU of the product, upload CSV files, create lists from past orders and send RFQ.
Working with the customer portal eliminates common human errors when working with documents and reduces repetitive tasks of your sales managers. The time employees usually spent on telephone calls and order management can be spent on finding new customers or building relations with existing ones, improve after-sales service as well as do more personal meetings with the key clients. The system makes your sales team focus on sales performance, speed up the sales cycle and minimize repetitive tasks.
B2B selling process it’s not only about transactions but also about partnership and cooperation. A B2B customer portal provides instant access to all required information so the customer will no longer need to contact a personal manager to find out the latest information during the transaction.
Marketing based on the real data
The collected data will give a business more insights that can be used to build more personalized communication, to make narrow segmentation and provide targeted marketing campaigns. Moreover, the system provides the ability to automate periodic reports with key indicators sent by email or provided on the dashboard in a personal account in real time.
B2B portal can be integrated with other business systems
Customers have a single access to an up-to-date information of stock, prices and discounts. It’s not simple and depends on the other systems integration possibility, but at the end of the day, the information flow and data exchange can be improved dramatically. Typically the customer portal integrates with ERP and CRM systems as well as PIM or CMS to provide end-to-end interaction.
More B2B portal capabilities:
- Intuitive navigation through the thousands of products
- Customer self-service enablement
- Instant access to the help documentation and knowledge base
- Lower customer support costs
- Integration with various systems