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B2B: Top 10 e-commerce capabilities to drive the most online success

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The growth of online sales is apparently the greatest business concern for wholesalers, according to research conducted on behalf of the Electrical Distributors’ Association. While it’s clear that wholesalers largely realize the importance of delivering a multi-channel commerce experience, very few are able to offer their customers fully functional e-commerce.

It’s no longer enough to provide on the most basic e-commerce functionality – today’s B2B customer increasingly interacts online and when doing so, they expect the same retail experience as when shopping for themselves.

To deliver the online experience business buyers demand, electrical wholesalers need to adopt strategies that incorporate approaches and best practice from their B2C counterparts.

This means not only being able to support self-serve and full-service buying across online and offline touchpoints, but also delivering personalised digital commerce experiences and offering innovative fulfilment options.

However, B2B is not simply a copy of B2C commerce, which predominantly focuses on providing a rich and engaging experience.

As an electrical wholesaler moving into e-commerce, success starts with a foundation of an easy shopping experience. With this in mind, we have put together a guide of The top ten things to look for in a B2B eCommerce platform.

Here is a summary of our top top 10 e-commerce capabilities that leverage online selling to drive growth:

1. Real-time, customer specific pricing

Individual pricing lists need to be available to your customers across all buying channels, in real time. This means having a system that supports continual price changes at an individual SKU level that could be different for each customer accessing the system.

2. Quick order & reorder/auto-replenishment

Due to the high frequency of component ordering, your customers frequently know exactly what they want and increasingly depend on eCommerce to quickly locate and purchase the products they need. These customers need to be able to easily enter in a long list of items they want to purchase, but also to be able to bulk order items they have recently ordered.

3. Bundle and tiered pricing

Many products offered by electrical wholesalers are very low cost and often it isn’t worth listing or selling products unless they are grouped into larger bundles or tiers of packs. The B2B commerce platform therefore needs to allow the business to group and price products in a way where they can be easily marketed, merchandised and purchased.

4. Future stock availability

Visibility of overall stock and Available To Promise rules are critical in managing the supply chain. Without this, customers may decide to abandon their shopping journeys or not come back to shop at all, even though the
wholesaler is about to receive stock imminently.

5. Customer self-service and administration

Corporate buyers will often have customer hierarchies for approval workflows and processes. Ensure your system has the capabilities to empower customers to build and configure their own users, cost centre hierarchy and workflow. This means they can administer the buying limits and approvals themselves, reducing administration and overall costs for you.

6. Invoice and credit reporting

B2B customers have lots of needs related to reporting on order invoicing, returns and credits.  The cost to manually gather and send this data to your customers can be high. Make sure that the system automates the sending of reports and allows customers to access the data themselves.

7. Procurement integration

As digital transformation continues to occur across the electrical wholesale sector, businesses will need to provide technical integration support to their customers to be able to facilitate the use of their own procurement
systems in the purchase process. Those that offer this facility earlier than their competition will capitalise on acquiring new large account customers.

8. Personalisation

The top priority of B2B retailers is to create a unique and personalised experience through innovation in technologies. Delivering tailored experiences have been shown to have a direct impact on conversion
rates and customer loyalty.

9. Contextual assistance

Providing support to a customer base during their buying process is a key expectation of electrical wholesalers. Enabling your representatives to login to the same system as the customer and share the completion of their basket, giving them the same experience the customer is having, will help resolve issues much more effectively and quickly.

10. Cloud

Your focus should be on driving revenue and reducing costs, rather than producing and managing technical infrastructure. Harnessing cloud-based systems provides cost savings and flexibility to the business.

Conclusion

Evolving with the market’s changing needs is important to ensure your business survives and thrives. It is imperative that electrical wholesalers respond quickly to retain their share of the business.

Today’s leading B2B commerce suites consolidate the management of multiple business models, channels and markets onto a single platform, giving you many more complex capabilities like the ability to manage complex pricing, quote workflows, advanced product configuration, branded microsites and even global inventory allocation.

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This post was first published on Greenlight Commerce, and is syndicated here with permission.

Kevin Murray
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August 20, 2018
Kevin Murray

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