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How to Transform a Bare Bones Business Portal into a B2B Ecommerce Powerhouse

Cygnet Infotech

At a time when more and more corporate customers are using the Internet to research and buy, a sizeable majority of B2B organizations appreciate the need for investing in ecommerce and other digital sales processes. There are many roadblocks that prevent B2B companies from making the transition. But none of the problems are insurmountable, and organizations with a clear digital sales enablement strategy and a robust IT partner stand to gain from the growing prevalence of online shopping.

Transforming general, portal-based network into a dynamic ecommerce ecosystem takes a lot of doing: tens of processes have to be implemented, you need to choose between frameworks and vendors, and single point solutions may have to be implemented for separate functions. Here, we will focus the spotlight on the core actions a B2B enterprise needs to take to construct a strong presence in the digital sales market.

1) Invest in a Powerful Portal, Aligned with Admin and Customer Needs

B2B enterprises mainly have two practical options – turn an existing portal into an ecommerce website, or set up a separate portal for online sales. Whatever choice you make, it is imperative to build it around the needs of your existing as well as potential customers. At the same time, you will need an easy-to-use, yet flexible backend.

Because, the portal will not only function as a means to gain new customers, but it will also help serve existing customers better.

While every organization’s approach will differ based on immediate and long-term corporate objectives, and expectations from the ecommerce portal, the following functionalities will help build a strong base for a dynamic B2B online store:

a) Mobile-Friendly Design:

More than 50% B2B companies offering online buying options say that their customers are using smartphones and tablets to research and buy products. While the amount of mobile traffic on your site may not be that high, mobile research plays a big role in the B2B customer journey. So, adopt responsive design to ensure that your store is accessible on mobiles. To offer an even better customer experience, you can also build a mobile app – but this can come at a later stage.

b) Serve Personalized Content: Not only will you serve existing customers online, but you will also find new and lucrative customers through the store. In order to optimize customer experience and maximize your sales, you can serve personalized content using the profiles of registered users.

Based on the history of the customer, the portal can generate a dashboard showcasing relevant products, highlighting attractive promotions, and serving relevant information. At same time, the page can offer details on the state of stock, the prices and the point of contact for making a purchase or getting more details.

c) Localization Support: If your customer base is spread across the globe, you will need to implement support for local currencies and languages. You may also want to go one step further and serve personalized content to specific regions (highlighting specific products, floating region-specific promotions, etc.).

d) Centralized and Intuitive Admin: All of the above will need to be managed by your website admins or digital marketing teams. Ensure that your backend is intuitive and flexible enough for easy and frequent changes.

2) Simplify Payment Processing and Billing

Unlike B2C organizations, most B2B companies have an existing and stable customer base, and most mature B2B players have implemented billing systems. In order to maintain the fluidity of the billing processes, it is imperative to integrate the online payment processes with the billing & ordering solution. This will ensure a smooth experience for existing clients and encourage them to buy more online.

Some complexity may be involved in integrating online payments with billing, especially when government regulations like SEPA are to be tackled at the same time. Add to it an external service for payment process and billing, and you have a slight problem. But, using custom development, such problems can be easily solved and most tasks can be automated.

3) Integrate Intelligently with Existing Systems

When considering ecommerce implementation, too many B2B concerns are focused only on opening up a new channel for revenue and sales. While the ecommerce arm of the business can theoretically operate separately, it is the integrations with existing systems like ERP, CRM, CMS, etc. that make it most effective. A tightly integrated ecommerce store will help you:

  • Automate number of tasks and increase operational efficient
  • Maintain data consistency and offer a superior consumer experience
  • Easily maintain product, stock and customer data across web assets
  • Automatically process VAT, discounts, bills, orders, invoices and more
  • Send online order to ERP and process them directly
  • Manage content across websites and locales through a central repository
  • Automate and simplify shipping and address validation
  • Integrate Call center / customer support

These are some of the most popular integrations that will help you slash the cost of content management, product handling, order handling and customer handling. For best results, assess your existing capabilities and align your future road maps with your digital ecommerce priorities.

4) Start with a Focused Digital Marketing Strategy in Mind

The B2B online selling space is extremely competitive, and it is only going to get more so. B2B organizations are operating in the same online market where their wholesalers, suppliers and manufactures operate. So, no business can expect money to start rolling straightaway, simply by building an ecommerce store.

To succeed, your organization needs to embrace all aspects of digital ecommerce and offer delightful customer experiences. Starting from enabling all your customers to search, research, pay, and track order and shipping online, you need to build a digital marketing and ecommerce conversion strategy.

However, there is a catch: too many businesses go through a time-consuming and painful implementation process to set up digital marketing automation platforms. But many of the tools don’t deliver practical benefits – they stay underutilized and may not be accepted by the sales teams. So, it is important to identify the core functions needed by the sales & marketing teams and ensure that only the necessary features and functionalities are integrated (or prioritized).

5) Focus on Building a Robust Ecommerce Ecosystem

Your existing supply chain may not stand up to the pressures of more frequent online orders. If your payments and billing are not automated, tasks related to invoice generation and bill clearing can increase admin loads significantly. By the same token, a lot of work may need to be done to get product images, videos and specs online.

Plus, digital marketing is too dissimilar from traditional sales & marketing, and you may need to set up a team, or beef up your digital management team to focus on the new needs. Needless to say, most of these activities are outsourced. But, you will still have to set up a team of ecommerce specialists who know what they are doing.

Once you find an ecommerce development partner, you can get data management, content management, and ecommerce development support easily – but it has to be aligned with your corporate goals, and this requires the guiding hand of a digital sales expert from within your organization.

Need assistance? Get in touch with us, tell us about your requirements and find out how we can help you.

Cygnet Infotech

Cygnet Infotech is a CMMi level 3 and is ISO 27001:2013 and ISO 9001:2008 certified, 18 year old global technology provider enabling ISVs & enterprises through emerging technology, software engineering, technology consulting, SAP Implementation, advisory & maintenance services. It’s proven 18-year track record boasts of successfully delivered 1400+ valuable software solutions to its diverse clientele across the globe using a global delivery model.

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