Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
November 2023, 9 min. read

B2B customers crave control. They want to manage their accounts, orders, and access essential resources–anytime, anywhere. In other words, they demand a responsive service model available 24/7/365. That’s why more and more businesses invest in B2B customer portals.

Traditional corporate websites usually offer an overview of a company’s offerings and activities. However, they fall short in supporting dynamic digital sales and interactive customer service. Client portals bridge this gap, creating an always-available, efficient, and engaging customer experience.

In this following article, we’re discussing the benefits this solution brings to businesses. We also reveal practical tips on how to build an effective portal tailored to your business needs. But first, let’s delve deeper into what B2B portal software is and explore its key features.

What is a B2B customer portal?

A B2B portal refers to a software application designed specifically for business-to-business. The B2B customer portal is a dynamic hub where you can manage your interactions with other businesses–your clients. This solution goes beyond a typical corporate website. It offers a suite of tools for placing orders, tracking shipments, managing accounts, and accessing everything product and sales-related. Plus, it’s placed online, so it’s at their fingertips, 24/7.

With a client portal, your customers gain self-service convenience and real-time data access. For your business, this means streamlined operations, smoother communication, and a more efficient experience for everyone.

Key client portal software features to build a better CX

Customer experience (CX) throughout the whole customer journey matters–a lot. In fact, a McKinsey survey found that customer satisfaction is 73% more likely when the entire journey works well than when only touchpoints do.

That’s why having superb sales teams is not enough. Tools like self-service portals are essential. Here are some key features to include in your client portal to improve customer experience:

  • Real-time status updates
  • Communication with clients through messaging and notifications
  • Easy and secure file sharing
  • Barcode scanning
  • Spare parts finder
  • Clear pricing
  • Quote approvals and reviews
  • Order, invoices, and billing history
  • Access controls
  • A library of resources, guides, and FAQs

Including these features in your client portal will ensure a seamless and satisfying customer experience. But which types of businesses can benefit the most from implementing this modern solution? Let’s find out.

Who may need a self-service B2B customer portal?

More businesses than you think use customer web portals. Frankly, any company selling to other businesses will benefit from this solution. Especially those in manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and professional services.

Where your customer would typically wait on hold or have to exchange lengthy email conversations, a business-to-business platform changes it all around.

For instance, if you’re a leading supplier of building materials, you may be struggling with a constant influx of customer calls. Contractors and construction companies frequently inquire about product availability, order status, and delivery timelines. This slows customer service for everyone. But it also limits your ability to focus on strategic initiatives.

However, if you introduce a user-friendly online platform where users can access a wealth of information and manage their accounts independently, your contractors can:

  • Place orders and track shipments in real time. 
  • Access product catalogs, specifications, and safety data sheets. 
  • View order history and manage invoices.

The impact? Your customer service team is freed up to focus on complex inquiries and building customer relationships. Your contractors enjoy easy 24/7 access to the information they need. This translates to faster order processing, improved communication, and a more satisfied customer base.

This story is just one example. B2B customer portals offer a powerful solution for businesses of all sizes and industries looking to empower their customers, streamline operations, and boost overall satisfaction.

Benefits of B2B client portals

Integrating a customer web portal into your workflow offers multiple advantages that can transform how you do business. By 2025, Gartner predicts a whopping 80% of B2B sales interactions will happen online. This makes a modern B2B digital portal essential for your company.

But what exactly makes them so crucial? Let’s break down the essential benefits that make these platforms vital tools for any B2B company.

Self-service platforms bring cost efficiency

One of the key benefits of online portal software is cost reduction. A self-service platform reduces service costs by allowing customers to find information and resolve issues on their own. As a result, you can save on staffing costs needed for handling phone calls and emails.

Portals introduce new effective workflows  

Working with the B2B sales portal eliminates common human errors when handling documents and reduces the repetitive tasks of your sales managers. Instead of spending hours on phone calls and processing orders, your team can redirect their efforts toward more impactful activities. They can focus on finding new customers, strengthening relationships with existing clients, and improving after-sales services.

Online portal software enables 24/7 sales

A web portal offers users instant access to your products and services. On top of this, it provides help documentation and a knowledge base for immediate assistance. This aligns with the expectations of over 90% of B2B decision-makers who want to keep using digital sales tools once they’ve experienced their benefits.

Companies can reach new markets without limits 

With a specialized web portal, your business is no longer dependent on time zones. Thus, you can reach more potential customers all around the world. Users can place, adjust, and check their order status with a few clicks in the system. Additionally, authorized users can download invoices anytime, even after hours.

Portals offer convenience and speed in order management  

How do your customers place orders? Traditionally, they would do it by phone, email, via a form on a web page, or through face-to-face negotiations. A B2B portal automates this process, allowing customers to quickly and efficiently compile an order.

They can easily navigate your digital catalog, search for SKUs, and upload CSV files for bulk orders. Additionally, your clients can reuse lists from past orders and send requests for quotes (RFQs) effortlessly.

B2B customer portals can help you gain competitive edge

A robust and well-designed platform can be a major selling point for your business. It allows you to stand out by providing a seamless, efficient CX that today’s B2B buyers expect. Meeting and exceeding these expectations secures a significant advantage over competitors who are slower to adopt digital transformations.

You get data-driven insights for your sales and marketing campaigns

Your B2B portal becomes an invaluable sales and marketing tool. It’s always available online, so your teams can access valuable customer data anytime. This information helps you understand your target audience better.

Here’s how it works:

  • Targeted messages: You can tailor your marketing and sales pitches to each customer’s specific needs, making them more likely to listen.
  • Smarter grouping: By segmenting customers, you can create marketing campaigns that are more relevant to them, increasing their effectiveness.
  • Personalized touch: With customer data, you can personalize your interactions, making them feel valued and more likely to buy additional products or services from you.
  • Repeat business: Integrate customer loyalty programs through your portal and encourage repeat purchases for increased sales potential.

Portals enable transparent collaboration

The B2B selling process isn’t only about transactions but also about partnership and cooperation. An online customer portal provides instant access to all required information. Consequently, the customer no longer needs to contact their personal manager to find out the latest information during the transaction.

Integrations with other business systems

It’s possible to integrate your B2B portal software into your operations to connect various standalone systems, creating a cohesive and efficient data-driven environment. This integration is crucial for maintaining information consistency, reducing errors, and saving time on data management. It enables smooth integration with existing business software solutions, such as ERP, CRM, PIM, and CMS.

The right customer service portal enhances data flow and supports your growth efficiently. Users benefit from a central access point for real-time updates on inventory, pricing, and offers. This makes every interaction with your portal a seamless, end-to-end experience.

How do I build a B2B portal for my businesses?

If you want to give your customers a one-stop shop, a place where they can easily find what they need and get things done quickly, designing your portal is a good option. Investing in a custom-developed solution tailored to your needs ensures the portal supports your business goals effectively.

Creating a customer-centric B2B portal involves a mix of internal planning and external development. Here’s a streamlined plan to guide you through the process:

Step 1 | Know your customers

Talk to them! Surveys and interviews help you understand what features they need most. This ensures your portal is truly useful.

Step 2 | Set your goals

What do you want your portal to achieve? Is it happier customers, faster sales, or better data management? Having clear goals is crucial to ensure the portal addresses real user needs.

Step 3 | Get your team ready

Determine the budget and resources required for the project. This includes financial investment, staff involvement, and time allocation.

Step 4 | Partner with an expert

Find a reliable software company with custom platform development experience. They can create a solution that perfectly fits your unique business needs. An experienced team will also:

  • Ensure smooth integration – your portal should work seamlessly with your existing systems, such as inventory, content management, and sales software.
  • Develop a user-friendly branded design – your platform needs a clear and easy-to-navigate branded design, ensuring customers can find what they need quickly.
  • Enable multi-device compatibility – your portal should be accessible on any device, providing a seamless experience across desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Support multi-language and multi-currency – to cater to your global customer base, platform developers can incorporate multi-language and multi-currency features. 
  • Implement strong security – your client portal software needs robust security measures, like secure user authentication and regular security audits to protect your customers’ data.

Step 5 | Launch and learn

Once the portal is live, continuously monitor its performance and gather user feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Step 6 | Keep your portal updated

Regularly add new features and improvements based on feedback and new technology. This keeps your portal valuable for your customers.

Final thoughts

The future of B2B sales is online, and a good customer experience is critical to modern business success. Happy clients are more likely to become repeat buyers, recommend your services, and ultimately contribute to a solid brand reputation. A robust B2B online portal design contributes significantly to this. These tools provide a seamless, efficient, and responsive digital space that satisfies many of your customer needs.

Furthermore, the integration of real-time access to information, streamlined order management, and personalized data-driven sales and marketing are key benefits. These elements contribute to the overall CX.

When you choose a custom web portal development service, you ensure a digital gateway tailored to your business’s unique ecosystem in every detail. Find out more about our custom B2B portal solutions that can elevate your business by getting in touch with us today.