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B2B Commerce – Going beyond online purchasing.

The B2B buyer of yesteryear is long gone. Digital technologies have not only changed the way business professionals research and buy products, they have raised the bar on expectations for what makes a great buying experience. While many business-to-business (B2B) companies realize that the B2B commerce journey is evolving, some fail to understand that today they are not just vying for business against their traditional direct competitors.

The market for B2B commerce also has the attention of online marketplaces like Amazon, Google, eBay and Alibaba, and this is creating a scenario where the same digital transformation experienced in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets is poised to impact B2B. With these large global ecommerce brands zeroing in on the B2B space, businesses have no time to spare to develop and improve the B2B commerce experience they provide to customers.

“The ecommerce site is the future of our customer service – customers can o nearly everything online that they can by phoning our call center” Heinrich Johnsen, Owner, Christian Arts Gifts

Succeeding at B2B commerce takes more than an attractive website. Companies need to create sites that engage with business customers and help them quickly find the products they need to save time and do their jobs better.

That means:

  • Providing your customers with a password-protected, self-service portal to manage all aspects of their business relationships with you, including accessing their order history and details of every sales order, viewing order status, tracking shipments, placing routine/repeat and bulk orders, paying invoices— and more.
  • Offering multiple Sites on the Same Platform so you can rapidly deploy and manage multiple B2B and B2C sites on the same platform using existing catalogs, content and infrastructure to create custom sites and catalogs.
  • Offering direct-to-consumer online sales in addition to supporting the traditional B2B channel. Manage sites with multiple languages, currencies, brands, taxes and other regional requirements from the same platform.
  • Unifying your back-end operational systems, including order management, ERP and CRM to eliminates the challenge of integrating and maintaining separate systems.
  • Providing the flexibility needed to keep up with the pace of business, reduce operational costs, increase efficiencies and eliminate the hassles of managing hardware and software.

Nailing the customer experience

Today, B2B buyers want their interactions on B2B ecommerce sites to meet the same customer experience standards they find with B2C websites. A platform that enables you to create whatever commerce experiences you want across all channels.

Mobile – fully optimized for mobile. Using responsive web design, your site must automatically adjust screen sizes and capabilities to different devices – computers, mobile phones or tablets.

Relevant and Personalized – Providing a single system of record for customer information, interactions and transactions. Segment customers to drive engaging and personalized shopping experiences, marketing campaigns and promotions.

Increase Order Value – Dynamic merchandising makes it easy to present upsell and cross-sell options to your customers and suggest related products based on your specific merchant-driven rules, including browsing behavior, items in a cart, best sellers or higher margins.

Rich and Engaging -Offering an appealing B2C-like customer experience with a variety of features:

  • Faceted navigation: Enable shoppers to quickly and effortlessly find products by narrowing items by categories and attributes, such as price, color and manufacturer.
  • Site-search: Provide capabilities like type ahead recommendations and customized search criteria settings to optimize results.
  • Searchandising: Promote products in search results based on search keywords and phrases or leverage product attributes such as top sellers, top rated and new arrivals.
  • Product imagery: Showcase products with an enhanced product gallery and zooming capabilities.
  • Social sharing: Increase user engagement by allowing content to be shared on popular social networks.
  • Rating and reviews: Enable brand enthusiasts to share their insights and experiences about products.

Master Records

Many organizations have traditional ERP systems at the center of their enterprises that date back a decade or more and are integrated with a patchwork of point systems devoted to specialized functions. At best, these legacy systems work reliably enough—that is, until you need to upgrade an application, which invariably causes breakage.

But often, disparate legacy systems are batch-based and error-prone. They typically share only a fraction of available data, resulting in fragmented information in siloed systems scattered throughout the enterprise.

If your company is running on multiple, older systems, you simply can’t compete with nimble competitors running on a modern, single, unified platform.

Purchasing

  • Moving business online streamlines the purchasing process, but your customers still expect the same pricing and discounts they’ve traditionally received when doing business offline with their sales reps. Offering customers their own contracted pricing, terms and credit limit.
  • Setting different pricing levels for the same item for different customers and offer channel or volume discounts.

Billing

Let customers:

  • View account balances: View summaries of outstanding and available balances, deposits, credit memos and the terms associated with accounts.
  • Review invoices and make payments: Give customers with terms capabilities to make full or partial payment against a single invoice or multiple invoices.
  • Use convenient payment methods: Offer B2B payment methods such as invoice billing, credit cards and ACH processing

Customer Service

Make it easy for customers to get help with:

  • Returns: Enable self-service returns management that allows shoppers to initiate an online return authorization.
  • Case management: Improve engagement and client satisfaction by enabling customers to submit questions or support queries, directly connected to your support desk.

With large global e-commerce brands zeroing in on the B2B space, businesses have no time to spare to develop and improve the B2B commerce experience they provide to customers. If you’re not taking steps to bring your business online, you’re going to get left behind. And if you launched your website a while ago, is the technology you are using limiting your ability to update and innovate the buying experience to support your customers’ expectations?

About Horizon Associates

Horizon Associates is a NetSuite Star Award Partner focused on helping growing companies integrate multiple, outdated platforms. Our team of accounting and finance experts have deep technical experience designing, implementing, and supporting NetSuite ERP solutions. To learn more, visit our website or call at 646.961.4334. Let us show you how to make NetSuite work for you and how to guarantee a successful ERP implementation

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