Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
May 2024, 10 min. read

Ecommerce is a fantastic platform for displaying products online. But, it can also be a powerful tool for complex sales with the help of the CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) system. CPQ eCommerce is a software solution designed specifically for businesses that sell online and offer complex, customizable products. It automates and streamlines the entire process, from product configuration to generating accurate quotes, directly within the eCommerce platform.

This integration creates a seamless experience for your customers. They can configure their desired product, get instant digital pricing, and complete their purchase–all within the same online environment. 

What you’ll learn in this article:

  • How CPQ eCommerce works and its benefits for businesses
  • Key features of CPQ eCommerce solutions
  • Features you might not know about in CPQ Systems
  • CPQ’s integration capabilities and future trends

Let’s dig in.

The role of CPQ in B2B eCommerce platforms

A CPQ system makes shopping for complex products smooth and straightforward on your eCommerce site. It can be embedded directly into your online platform, handling all the tricky parts of the sales process. This includes making sure that the products customers design can actually be made and meet the set CPQ product rules.

Errors made during traditional product customization methods can be costly. If your sales rep accidentally misquotes a complex order because of one small mistake in the input—it could ruin the entire quote. CPQ software helps avoid these blunders by automatically checking that all product details are correct and compatible. This speeds up the ordering process and builds trust with your customers.

As customers bundle their products, they see the price update immediately. They can also view their product changes on screen, helping them understand what they’re buying and ensuring they get what they expect.

Additionally, using CPQ lets you adjust prices and promotions in real-time, responding to the latest market trends and customer actions. This flexibility helps your business stay competitive and meet customer expectations quickly.

Today, many B2B customers prefer to handle things themselves directly on the website rather than going through salespeople. In fact, 70-80% of B2B buyers prefer digital self-service or remote interactions over in-person sales​. CPQs meet these preferences by enabling a complete and satisfying self-service experience online.

Key features of CPQ solutions

The best CPQ systems are tailor-made to fit your business and target customers. Every company is different, especially when it comes to selling complex products online. That’s why CPQ isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s fully customizable to mesh seamlessly with your business’s unique needs and sales tactics. 

Integrating a CPQ tool into your eCommerce platform means you’re setting up a new, effective sales process. This process must be perfectly tuned to how you operate and engage with your customers.

Let’s dive into the specific features that make CPQ systems so effective at meeting unique business needs:

Configuration features

Product catalog

An easy to navigate online product catalog for complex products is the minimum you should give your customers. In the CPQ solutions, it’s the foundation for your eCommerce offering. It displays detailed descriptions and allows for extensive filtering options, making it simple for customers to find what they’re searching for. 

Product catalog as a feature in cpq ecommerce

This means your customers don’t have to wade through confusing information or thousands of printed catalog pages and can easily make informed decisions.

📢 Learn more: Complex Product Catalog Management Best Practices

Visual configuration

Visual configuration tools within CPQs allow users to see their customizations in real-time as they configure their products. This feature makes the shopping experience much more interactive. 

visual configuration feature in cpq ecommerce

Plus, it helps customers visualize their choices, increasing their confidence in the purchase. For your business, this means higher customer satisfaction and a lower likelihood of returns due to mismatched expectations. 

📢 Learn more: 2D vs 3D Product Configurator. Which one to choose?

Configuration rules

No more guesswork in product customization! Configuration rules ensure every choice is compatible, automatically adjusting or rejecting what doesn’t work. A set sequence keeps the order process smooth and free from errors, saving time and avoiding potential production nightmares. Your customers can enjoy a seamless shopping experience, knowing every choice they make fits perfectly.

📢 Learn more: Overview of Product Configuration Rules

Pricing features

Real-time pricing

Real-time pricing is a dynamic feature of CPQs that adjusts prices based on the configurations chosen by the customer. As customers select various features and customizations, the price optimization system calculates the amount, reflecting any changes immediately. This transparency in eCommerce pricing strategies helps prevent sticker shock at checkout. It aligns the customer’s expectations with the final cost, which can improve customer trust and satisfaction.

📢 Learn more: Types of CPQ Price Rules To Make Your Configure-Price-Quote Software Effective

Pricing flexibility

Pricing management is a core CPQ feature, and pricing flexibility is key to winning sales and customer loyalty. A custom-developed CPQ system can effortlessly handle different pricing strategies, making it easy to tailor prices to market demands and customer segments. This adaptability helps you stay competitive and responsive, ensuring you can attract and retain customers by offering the best deals at the right times.

Discount management

Effective discount management can be the difference between profit and loss. With CPQ, managing discounts becomes simple. You can set up rules for when discounts apply, to whom, and under what conditions. This ensures that promotions are used strategically to boost sales without eroding profit margins. Plus, it boosts customer satisfaction by providing fair, accurate pricing that rewards buyer actions and loyalty.

Quoting features

Dynamic quote generation

Dynamic quote generation instantly turns complex data from customer configuration into clear, accurate quotes. As soon as a customer finalizes their choices, CPQ performs price calculations and outputs a detailed quote that reflects every customization. Automatic eCommerce quote generation dramatically speeds up the B2B sales cycle. It also ensures that each generated quote is perfectly tailored to customer needs, reducing errors and boosting confidence in your pricing transparency.

Commercial rules

Commercial rules govern the transactional details that might otherwise complicate a sale. These include setting minimum order values, enforcing contract terms, or handling bulk purchases. By automating these rules within your CPQ solution, you ensure every deal adheres to company policies while simplifying the buying process for your B2B customers. This consistency helps avoid misunderstandings and builds a stronger, more trustworthy relationship with your clients.

Version control and history tracking

With version control and history tracking, every change made to a quote is recorded. This feature enables tracing the evolution of CPQ quotes, providing a clear audit trail that is invaluable during negotiations or when revising terms. It helps maintain consistency and accountability in sales transactions, which is crucial for building long-term business relationships.

Beyond the basic features of CPQ software

Beyond the core functionalities of configuration, pricing, and quoting, CPQs offer additional features that improve your business processes and customer engagement. Here are the most important ones:

Cross-sell and upsell recommendations

Configure-Price-Quote systems are brilliant at boosting sales opportunities. As customers configure their products, the system suggests additional features or premium alternatives based on your set rules. 

cross selling feature

These recommendations are cleverly integrated into the configuration process, ensuring that they’re relevant and timely. This simple cross-selling process strategy can increase the potential value of each order by up to 30%. It also improves customer satisfaction by making tailored suggestions that genuinely fit their ongoing configurations.

Document generation

CPQ systems simplify the paperwork. As a deal nears completion, they automatically create all the needed documents like proposals, contracts, sales orders, and production lists. 

pdf generation feature in cpq ecommerce

These documents are always accurate, matching the final product configuration and pricing. Automating your quoting process ensures professionalism, saves time, and reduces the risk of manual errors, ensuring your sales close smoothly and efficiently.

Analytics and insights

Your CPQ is a rich source of transactional data, capturing insights such as customer preferences, popular configurations, and sales performance. Integrating CPQ with business intelligence tools lets you delve into this data to refine product and service offerings, tailor marketing strategies, and adjust pricing effectively. Analyzing these insights is crucial for improving the effectiveness of your sales processes. It’ll allow you to identify areas for improvement and take action to optimize operations for even better customer satisfaction.

Approval workflow 

CPQ applications feature a streamlined and efficient approval mechanism that replaces traditional email-based approvals. When an order requires validation, whether for pricing or configuration, the system simultaneously notifies all relevant groups, including Operations, Finance, Legal, and the Executive Team. This ensures that every order is quickly reviewed and meets company standards. Automating this process dramatically speeds up approvals, improves accuracy, and reduces delays in the sales cycle.

CPQ integration with manufacturing systems

CPQ tools link sales and production departments. These platforms enable seamless transitions within the quote-to-cash process, resulting in a streamlined workflow. Configured orders are directly communicated to manufacturing systems, such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or Production Planning Systems (PPS).

For instance, CPQ tools integrated with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems can ensure that production aligns precisely with both customer specifications and engineering designs. They transmit detailed order information—including specifications, quantities, and customized features—in real-time. Instant engineering checks further validate product configurations against technical specifications and engineering constraints, preventing errors and rework.

Using digital systems eliminates manual entry processes, reducing the risk of human errors, while integrations automate the transfer of information. Thus, automation ensures that manufacturing starts with the correct configurations right from the outset. 

Integration also allows for dynamic scheduling of production activities based on order complexity and production capacity. This helps optimize resource allocation and reduce bottlenecks in the manufacturing process. Many CPQ tools automatically generate accurate Bills of Materials (BOMs) based on configured product options, streamlining efficient downstream manufacturing operations.

And, with accurate and detailed product configurations coming directly from the CPQ system, manufacturers can implement quality control checks that are specific to each customized order. 

Moreover, the integration creates a feedback loop where production issues can be relayed back to the sales team. This allows for immediate corrective actions and continuous improvement in product design and customer experience.

📢 See more: Optimizing Production – The Role of CPQ for Manufacturing Efficiency

CPQs are evolving rapidly, thanks to advancing technology. These changes are set to boost their impact on eCommerce significantly. Here’s what’s coming:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI and ML can be implemented in the systems to improve configuration and pricing processes. They use past data to predict the best product configurations and pricing strategies, making the systems smarter and improving both customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): AR technology transforms how customers interact with configurable products. Online buyers are already visualizing products in their own space before purchasing, thanks to AR. This technology provides a more engaging and convincing shopping experience.

These developments point towards a future where visual CPQ systems are more interactive, intuitive, and crucial for meeting the dynamic needs of businesses and consumers.

Conclusion

CPQ systems are transforming how eCommerce handles complex, customizable product lines. If you’ve ever doubted that selling intricate products online is practical, it’s time to reconsider. 

This solution provides tools that simplify configurations, ensure precise online pricing, and automate quoting. Plus, you can let your customers skip the quoting step to order and pay for their selections all in one go without leaving the platform. 

With custom-developed CPQ, you set the rules!

By integrating CPQ software tailored to your business, you can significantly boost operational efficiency, reduce errors, and enhance customer satisfaction. Moreover, linking CPQ with manufacturing ensures products are configured, produced, and delivered effectively. 

Embrace this technology to meet today’s consumer expectations and excel in your market niche with CPQ built by Right Information.