Do your goals include growing more revenue and driving customer acquisitions?
B2B Portal and is it worth having one
B2B Self-Service as a Prestige, Members-Only Club
Abraham Maslow said, “In any given moment, we have two choices: step forward into growth or step backward into safety.”
Many clients have told me that their customers like the ‘status quo’ (not the band, though there’s nothing wrong with classic rock!) They like to email their product orders in or they prefer to telephone and speak to someone. And that is fine; I enjoy a good natter on the phone and I love nothing more than spending more time writing emails (OK, I am joking there!).
Customer Conversation is King
There is, in fact, great value in talking to customers, whether you are B2B or B2C. The feedback we get is worth its weight in gold, when you consider the efforts market researchers go to in order to seek out the opinions of the general public.
Or consider the loyalty cards used by supermarkets and other organisations, all linked to databases and spreadsheets to collect information about buying habits and preferences.
If you can get real, live humans to tell you that sort of stuff themselves, for free, you should jump at the chance.
Consider this feedback, collated from B2B Customer Conversations:
- They like to be able to order at a time and place that suits them
- They like to browse at their leisure all available options
- They want ordering to be quick and efficient
- They want clear delivery options and payment terms
- They want the best prices on the best products
We notice that priorities for B2B customers are similar to those of direct to consumer (D2C) ecommerce, and it’s not surprising. Whatever your sector, wherever your market, ultimately, you are selling to humans.
But, if face-to-face conversations with real human customers are so valuable, why are big businesses not taking advantage of the opportunities?
The answer, of course, is time. Economies of scale work in reverse for in-person customer conversations. Tesco commands an estimated 27% market in the UK, and has 326,218 employees. Customers number in the millions.
That’s where the Clubcard loyalty card comes in. Each individual customer’s behaviour and preferences are noted and stored centrally. Each customer then receives personalised special offers.
Extrapolate this philosophy and apply it to your B2B customers.
Creating a portal where your B2B customers can shop for themselves is essentially a similar experience for your customers to shopping at a supermarket. It should not be seen as reducing customer service, but rather an opportunity to make customer service more proactive and more targeted.
VIP Club Experience
You benefit from reduced costs immediately, by saving time previously invested in hundreds of conversations and emails. You can choose how much of those savings to pass back to your customers. Perhaps you it could mean that you can offer more attractive prices in a B2B Portal, effectively creating special a VIP club for online customers only.
And you can apply different levels of discounts to different customers. Your B2B portal can upsell and cross-sell on the fly, just like a Tesco Clubcard.
Remember the 5 Customer Criteria, above? A B2B portal can deliver them all.
B2B eCommerce Fastest Growing Sector
According to Digital Commerce 360, B2B ecommerce remains the fastest growing channel. In 2021, manufacturers, through their own websites and apps and on B2B marketplaces, grew ecommerce by 18.4%, to $543.25 billion from $458.7 billion. These growth rates are 1.45 times greater than the growth in all manufacturing sales and 1.42 times bigger than the increase in all electronic sales.
A B2B Customer Portal can offer:
- 24/7 Ordering
- Customer-specific pricing and discounts
- Control over what products can and can’t see
- A VIP club experience
- Reduced overheads of processing orders
- Time to focus on proactive and customer-focused communication rather than order-taking
As we enter the age of the metaverse and Web3, it is time to harness the power of tech for increased profit for fewer hours and improved customer service with higher margins.
And, if you want to invest a little of your newly-recovered time to call up the odd high-value client now and again for a chat, you have that luxury!