There’s a new player in the B2B market, and that player is none other than Amazon, a B2C giant. In order to compete in this more competitive marketplace, distributors need sophisticated e-commerce order management.
So what should sellers in the B2B space be focusing on when gearing up against the competition? “Basically, B2B buyers increasingly want the same shopping experience they have as consumers on B2C e-commerce sites,” notes a post on the NetSuite Blog.
In short, distributors and manufacturers need to make their e-commerce order management mimic that of a B2C seller. The NetSuite Blog post offers five steps to take for a more successful B2B e-commerce site.
- Provide real-time inventory updates: Whether an item is in-stock, out-of-stock or in short supply, let your customers know on your website. This “saves them the frustration of having to cancel the order later or wait for a back-ordered item, and it can encourage purchases by alerting customers to items in limited availability,” the NetSuite Blog post explains.
- Offer customer self-service: In B2C shopping, customers are used to support forums, FAQs and other research tools. Offer these on your site and keep them up-to-date. Providing an atmosphere of trust and reliability is paramount in the more impersonal online purchasing process.
It’s also good to allow customers to access a self-service portal that provides current and historical order and invoice information.
- One-click reordering: Having the option to view and easily reorder items spares customers the frustrating process of searching your inventory for something they’ve already found in the past. Providing such conveniences helps to encourage repeat business.
“Most customers tend to re-order the same products. Make it very quick and easy for them to find and re-order those items,” the blog post recommends.
- Dynamically promote your products: When you’re shopping online at home, how often are you introduced to other items related to what you’re buying? B2B sellers designing their e-commerce site shouldn’t assume customers know exactly what they want or aren’t interested in making additional purchases.
“By dynamically serving up product recommendations in the margins of pages or search results, the seller provides alternatives that the buyer may not have been aware of which can lead to increased sales,” the blog post from NetSuite explains.
- Leverage B2C search functionality: If a customer isn’t able to find what they want on your site, they’re likely to search for and find it on a competitor’s site. A sophisticated e-commerce web site should have the ability to search based on category, brand and price as well as other parameters.
“'Searchandizing’ enables a site to promote products it wants to sell, such as overstocked or high margin items, at the top of a search results page,” the NetSuite Blog post notes.
The B2B market in 2013 was twice the size of the B2C market. Purchasers and procurement managers are clearly interested in having an online option when purchasing. Only with a highly functioning e-commerce order management system are distributors and manufacturers able to compete with giants like Amazon and take advantage of this growing trend in online purchasing.
Source: NetSuite Blog, January 2014