Your customers are maturing, and expect the ability to find product information or buy from you when it is convenient for them, which may or may not be during normal business hours. Convenience is at the center of self-service. Having the right self-service tools in place for your customers (both buyers and sellers) will make their jobs easier, and help you reduce the overall cost to run your business.
Successful self-service starts with providing rich product detail pages to allowing your customers to negotiate pricing online. It extends through tracking the delivery of the product and beyond – it is more than just offering a portal to find product information and place orders. In fact, 31% of ecommerce revenue is incremental and results from making it easier for your customers to buy from you online.
The most important elements to successful online self-service are the ability to sell configured products, display customer-specific pricing, provide inventory availability (including the ability to purchase backordered items) and last, but not least, the offering the ability to buy online. Beyond the buy button, self-service tools focused on making it more convenient to buy from you online can actually grow incremental revenue.
Here are three core tools self-service tools that are integral to your B2B ecommerce solution:
1. Sales engagement tools, including pricing negotiation workflows
Many B2B transactions include contract pricing, especially for the more complex products, which requires a conversation between the seller and the customer. For your customers to shift online, you will need a self-service tool that allows them to interact with your seller to engage them as needed in the purchasing process, and then extends seamlessly to offer quoting/re-pricing as part of the ordering workflow.
2. Options that make it super easy to reorder
Once you get your customer and their simple and more complex purchases online, your long-term success in shifting them to self-service depends on how easy you make it to reorder previously purchased items. Depending on the nature of your business, a significant number of orders will include items that have been purchased before.
Your ecommerce solution should offer tools that make it easy to reorder, including the ability to add items from a list to the cart, the option to save and retrieve an order for reorder, and finally adding a reorder button on order history. Making it convenient to reorder will help drive return visits, reduce cost to serve and, ultimately, grow your bottom line.
3. A robust post-purchase feature set
Beyond the buy button, the one feature your customers care most about is order status and delivery, regardless of whether or not they purchased the item online. Order status is likely one of your key contact drivers to your sales and support teams, and likely one of the easiest features to move to self-service. This is where B2C solutions are winning, and B2B is trying to figure it out. Post-purchase features are even more critical in B2B, as your buyers’ business depends on your products.
Make sure your ecommerce solution offers self-service features that extend into the post-purchase experience, including giving your customers full visibility into the status of their orders across channels, allows them to track their order online and maybe even allows them to download technical specifications from their order history.
A little known fact about post-purchase features: they are a critical factor in driving return visits to the site, promote long-term customer loyalty and drive revenue. If they go online to track their package, they will stay online and purchase during that session, because it is convenient.
By offering a richer self-service toolset, you are making the purchasing process easier and more convenient for your customer, growing customer loyalty in the long-term. A robust B2B ecommerce platform will enable your customers to be as self-sufficient as they want to be, while allowing them to seamlessly move between sales channels, engaging with a sales or customer service rep as needed, on their terms. In return, you are freeing up your sellers, so they can focus on the highest-value, more-complex transactions and new customer acquisition which grows your business in the long term.