While B2B buyers expect many of the same technology features that B2C sites offer to consumers, there are some B2B technology features they expect in an online presence that do not have B2C counterparts. These B2B technology features are related to organizational buying, customer-specific catalogs, eProcurement and supplier integration, product maintenance and parts management, all of which can help engage and retain loyal customers.
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Here are some B2B technology features that are easy to implement and can provide a high value to your customers, both current and prospective:
B2B transactions are usually more complex than B2C transactions. Purchase decisions are often made by a group of people spanning several different departments within a business. To make the purchasing process easier, offer your customer the ability to create multiple user accounts and associate them to departments, specific site features, products/catalogs, and the ability to report by company, department or individual user. Many businesses also need the ability to checkout via credit card and/or purchase order.
Customer-specific catalogs give you the ability to specify certain products to particular customers in varying industries. If you have large customers for whom you have designed variations of products that are specific to them, such as promotional products with customized logos, the B2B buyer will want to see their customized products, including images and options, on their unique portal.
Large organizations often have an in-house procurement portal for buying. If your online catalog does not support integration with their procurement solution, your customer will likely move to one of your competitors, even if their prices are higher.
Integrating with suppliers is important since it not only provides real-time inventory availability to your customers, but also enables you to offer a deeper product selection including using dropshippers. With supplier and dropshipper integrations, you can realize reduced shipping times as transmitting orders real-time reduces the order processing time and gets products to your customers more timely. Another benefit of tight integrations is the Supplier/Customer invoice reconciliation and the ability to easily match customer sales to the invoices of the products purchased.
Product Maintenance / Parts Management:
If your products require maintenance and replacement parts over time, support your customers through functionality such as automated maintenance notifications or advanced part search. This will save your customers time by helping them avoid critical system outages and helping them quickly find and purchase replacement parts. As an added benefit, by providing these types of custom, self-service type solutions, you may reduce your customer service calls or returns for incorrect parts.
All of these B2B technology features can be referred to as loyalty-building features. Features that, when leveraged by your customers, streamline their operations by integrating your company into theirs, making you an extension of their business and an indispensible partner.