Implementing a B2B Portal: Benefits & Challenges For a B2B Company
Business digitalisation has been at its peak for quite some time now, and with the global pandemic that affected the whole world, we saw the need for it arise even in those most improbable areas - like schools or clinics. Going online wasn’t a matter of being ahead of the competition or gaining these additional few percent of the market. Not anymore. Now it was a matter of survival. With everything closing down, the businesses that had no presence on the Internet were in a very difficult position. That’s why even those sectors that always assumed that going online was not in their best interest had to reevaluate.
One of them was the B2B sector. The Business to Business world has always focused on building relationships with customers in a more direct manner- afraid that selling online would feel too impersonal. Yet, when the situation around the globe made personal contact impossible it was time to adjust. With that, the B2B portals became the dog that your father claimed he never wanted but suddenly was inseparable (he’ll never admit that, of course).
The B2B portals, however scary they were in prospect, brought undeniable benefits. The portals offered a new entry to improve (or in some cases create) brand awareness reaching more customers. This lead to the reinforcement of existing channels, increased sales, the possibility of upselling or cross-selling, or even the option to analyse customers’ behaviors, providing a 360° Customer view, thanks to which, companies were now able to have access to accurate sales forecasts. These are just a few examples, that ultimately lead to amazing growth potential. It was definitely a whole new world to be explored and with the trial and error method businesses were able to adjust their portals as best as possible to their customers’ unique needs.
But, as with anything in life, implementing a B2B portal is not all roses and it has its challenges. The main one would be the nature of the relationship with the B2B customer. Very often the relationships in the B2B sector are personal and so it might seem it’s not possible to maintain them without face-to-face customer service.
However, as much as we’d love to believe that our customers are doing business with us solely based on our charm and sense of humor, most definitely (there’s always hope though, right?) it’s not the case.
What they actually care about is for the catalogs, product selection, and pricing to be organized according to their unique needs. So if the portal is created in a way that allows customers to customise according to their particular requirements- we should be out of the woods, no? Well, not really, but it’s a good start. What we have to remember above all is that B2B customers are exactly that- customers. Granted, the B2B customer’s buying process is definitely different from clicking the “buy” button on Amazon, which the B2C customer sometimes does without a second thought. But what the customers from both sectors share is how important the experience is to them. And this, we’re confident, will never change.
Since we know that the B2B buying process involves a lot of decision-makers, and the complexity of the buying cycle is a big challenge, we have to do everything possible to make the process as smooth and as short as possible. By that, we don’t mean having a group of 20 salespeople at hand to accommodate one client at any time of the day- this would defeat the whole purpose of the portal.
What you need are good tools, sales teams, and processes that all need to work seamlessly. Without the CRM or the ERP systems having a consistent connection and smooth interactions with the portal, you won’t be able to reach success. It is not just the tool itself that brings quality, but the way it is defined, designed, and built after defining simple and user-friendly processes for the users. With that, you can make sure all your data is integrated and there is the widest range of self-service features, so the customer can get as much done on their own as possible. This way they won’t feel neglected and those 20 employees of yours can focus on more valuable tasks at hand than answering the same questions over and over.
All in all, as with anything, even with some of the challenges mentioned, that will likely come up, the question is; are they so severe that they should stop us from implementing the B2B portal? In case you haven’t reached that conclusion yet- no it shouldn’t. Anything good in life comes with some obstacles and the same applies to businesses. The past couple of years showed us that we have to go above and beyond to satisfy and retain our customers in every way possible, not to mention the fact that if our competition is doing it (and they are, believe us) it’s only a matter of time when your business falls out of the race.
And the best way to face these challenges successfully is to trust the experts, enter Waeg Envision. We focus on the human aspect of the transformation, which is often omitted in favor of the technical side of digital tool implementations. We also offer Top Management commitment together with a clear vision of the objectives and goals of digitalisation. The implementation of a digital tool like B2B commerce brings a lot of benefits if done properly, and our business transformation, customer experience, and design experts will make sure that it is.
Don’t hesitate to reach out, we can help you with finding the right strategy that is specifically tailored to your needs to ensure you enter the B2B e-Commerce world successfully.
For any questions please contact Leon Weerts | Business Transformation Director | email@example.com