Ecommerce was once characterised as a platform almost exclusively used for the business-to-consumer (B2C) channel. The assumption was that business-to-business (B2B) buyers still prefered in-person transactions, with online ordering being far from a necessity. However, as ecommerce continues to see aggressive growth, B2B channels are now dealing with the demand to offer the same level of digital experiences as the B2C space.
The impacts of COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for the B2B digitisation movement, and now, more than 70% of B2B buyers say they prefer remote or digital purchasing over in-person exchanges. The fact remains that B2B businesses will only continue to lean more toward online ordering options in the future. Therefore, now is the perfect time to give your B2B organisation a pulse check to see if it's ready to deliver on the growing demands of B2B customers and the complexities of the supply chain.
If your business isn’t yet equipped with a well-functioning ecommerce channel, you could be setting yourself up to lose buyers to the competition. So how do you know if it’s time to revamp your current systems? Take a look at these five signs that you need to modernise your processes with a B2B online ordering portal.
Sign #1: Your Support Staff is Overwhelmed
The easiest way to gauge if your business needs a digital ecommerce transformation is to first take a look internally. If customer support reps are inundated daily with customer service tickets, product inquiries, or delivery updates, an online ordering portal could be the solution to the chaos.
A B2B ecommerce portal empowers buyers to use self-service options for completing tasks on their own. Self-service options within ecommerce portals help to significantly reduce the workload for your support staff. This allows team members to focus more on buyer needs and other areas of the supply chain. B2B customer service reps, fulfilment specialists, and IT teams will all see reduced workloads in addition to happier customers.
Sign #2. Customer Experience is Suffering
User experience is quickly becoming a key differentiator as buyers choose who to do business with. As mentioned before, B2C ecommerce has set a high standard for customer satisfaction that has now trickled into the expectations for B2B organisations. Simply put, if your ordering processes aren’t streamlined and easy for buyers to navigate, you’re at risk of losing customers to the competition.
Sign #3: There’s a Lack of Data Visibility
If your B2B company is working with legacy systems or siloed technology, it can be very difficult to get clear, streamlined data about online orders, product inventory, or customer behaviour. This can create several blindspots along the supply chain for both manufacturers and distributors. An online ordering portal can facilitate better visibility in a number of ways.
First, incorporating an online ordering portal helps to centralise inventory and order management. Whether your B2B business has a single warehouse or multiple distribution centres, digital ordering and fulfilment helps track current inventory and future supply needs clearly and accurately.
Digital B2B commerce is also a great way to acquire actionable customer data. With online ordering processes, you’ll see valuable user buying patterns and engagement levels at different touchpoints. For example, you can see if B2B buyers are abandoning carts at specific points, which can help identify whether there are issues with your ecommerce portal or expose any fulfilment mistakes due to incorrect stock information.
Sign #4: Your Current System Isn’t Cost-Effective
If your existing processes are costing you more money than necessary, a B2B online ordering portal can reduce spending by increasing efficiency and minimising inaccuracies. As we addressed earlier, overwhelmed staff is a sign that your business could benefit from digitising its processes to work more efficiently. In the same vein, an ecommerce portal helps reduce business support costs when wholesale customers have the option to use self-service tools.
Similarly, if your business experiences frequent inaccuracies in fulfilment or inventory, it’s likely that your teams are spending unnecessary time and money correcting those mistakes. The more efficiently the supply chain operates, the more cost-effective it can be.
Sign #5: Manual Processes are Inefficient and Time-Consuming
As the supply chain continues to evolve, processes naturally get more complex. If the order lifecycle is predominantly dependent on manual processes, it’s likely that manual operations are time-consuming and at risk of frequent errors.
Online ordering portals can help automate processes and provide insights that help staff make faster and smarter fulfilment decisions. Schedules, sourcing, and inventory management can be unified across teams, which removes tedious guesswork on things like delivery times. Online ordering portals also help minimise potentially expensive errors made by manual processing.
Today’s users expect modern ordering and fulfilment processes that are accurate and tailored to their needs. A B2B online ordering portal can offer sophisticated workflows that help address complex pricing options seen in many B2B processes. You can provide buyers with easy ordering options and later use insights to anticipate their future ordering needs and provide accurate delivery times.
Learn More About B2B Online Ordering Portals
If your B2B organisation is experiencing any of these five signs, it could be time to switch to a more modern ordering system. The truth is, the pressure for B2B businesses to deliver exceptional ecommerce experiences is growing rapidly; now more than ever, it’s important to implement processes that enhance customer experience, increase workflow efficiencies, and reduce your business’s cost-to-serve. To learn more about B2B best practices to streamline purchasing processes, download the eBook, “Better B2B: Taking E-Commerce to the Next Level”.
Plus, if your organisation is ready to create customer loyalty and drive growth, reach out to Liferay to request a demo and discover even more of our B2B commerce solutions.