Leverage B2B Self-Service Portals for Your Customers and Business25 September 2023
Today’s B2B buyers have high expectations of self-service options. They want to look at pricing details, read customer reviews, and explore your product details before buying it. That’s why 100% of B2B customers in 2022 wanted to handle some or all of the purchase process on their own.
However, it’s crucial to highlight that a B2B ecommerce store distinguishes itself from a B2B portal. While both alternatives allow you to cater to customers’ specific desires through personalized, self-service platforms, there are some differences that we’ll explore later in this blog.
We’ll cover what a B2B portal is and how it can benefit both your customers and business.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
What Is a B2B Portal?
A B2B portal is a digital platform that allows B2B companies to interact online with their customers. When tailored to B2B ecommerce, it primarily works as a solution where businesses like manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers can self-serve online.
For example, a clothing brand can use a self-service portal to order material in bulk from a supplier online. The portal would allow the business to view fabric options, place orders, track shipments, view and pay invoices, and communicate with the vendor from a single platform.
The Difference Between B2B Portal and Ecommerce website
A B2B portal streamlines bulk ordering, tailors pricing and payment terms, simplifies re-ordering, and offers a specialized product catalog for an enhanced user experience.
An ecommerce website caters to individual consumers, prioritizes single purchases with the same pricing for all customers, and has a more straightforward buying process.
How a B2B Portal Benefits Your Customers
A B2B ecommerce portal can help your customers perform self-service actions like online ordering, checking their order status, viewing and paying invoices, and tracking deliveries.
Some of the most in-demand features are:
Personalized Customer Experiences
Most B2B buyers desire personalized user experiences. They want you to treat them as individuals, not part of a large audience. Because of that, 59% of companies lose sales for too little customization, according to SAP’s 2023 State of B2B ecommerce report.
B2B ecommerce portals store data on past orders, customer preferences, and even browsing habits. As a result, it allows you to offer specialized product catalogs for each customer. This can also include bulk product packs or specialty items only available to certain customers.
That personal touch builds trust and leads to customer satisfaction, solid relationships, and repeat orders.
For instance, k-ecommerce lets you configure user-specific catalogs. With this functionality, you can control which products a customer sees on your online store and even show items individually by catalog.
Customized Pricing and Payment Terms
Pricing is a big deal for B2B shoppers. According to a recent TrustRadius report, 81% of B2B customers want to find pricing details independently. And if they can’t track it down quickly, only 41% will book a call with a salesperson.
A self-service portal offers buyers tailored pricing and payment terms based on their profile and purchase history. That means they won’t have to contact customer service to inquire about prices whenever they want to order.
The portal also provides detailed product demos and other relevant information B2B customers might require when researching products. In the TrustRadius report, 40% of buyers want an online product tour, while 43% want a self-guided product demo as a self-service option.
Bulk Ordering Capabilities
B2B portals work well for businesses that often need large product quantities — whether it’s a restaurant ordering ingredients, a manufacturer buying equipment parts, or a retailer stocking up on new items.
Through bulk ordering capabilities, B2B customer portals make the buying process more efficient for these wholesale customers. It saves time, ensures there’s enough stock with real-time inventory connectivity, and allows you to include discounts for large purchases.
Quick Reorder Features and Custom Order Templates
B2B buyers often order the same products repeatedly. So, they need a platform that allows them to reorder these items quickly.
A B2B sales portal operates 24/7 and gives customers access to previous orders and frequently ordered items. That way, they can quickly place repeat orders without having to search for each product again or request help from customer service.
B2B customers also frequently order specific items together. For instance, a hospital where nurses, doctors, and cleaning staff wear different uniforms might want to group each outfit by department to make ordering easier.
A B2B customer portal lets shoppers create order templates so they can reorder all or some of the products from their customized templates without having to reselect the items.
Self-Service Knowledge Base and Support
According to McKinsey & Company, two-thirds of B2B buyers in 2022 wanted remote human interactions or the option for digital self-service while ordering or reordering. That means most customers want a web store where they can complete transactions without needing a human or can connect to customer service via chat instead of having to call someone. Overall, they want to be able to buy items, check order statuses, and gather information outside regular business hours.
With a self-service portal, you can create a comprehensive knowledge base with FAQs, tutorials, and product guides tailored for your B2B clients. This allows them to find answers to their questions so they can make informed decisions about their purchases without reaching out to the support team.
Customers can also manage their accounts, update personal details, and handle minor issues without contacting customer service. You can even integrate chatbots or live chat features so they get help immediately and resolve problems faster.
How a B2B Ecommerce Portal Helps Your Business
Besides customers, your sales team (and business as a whole) can also benefit from a B2B portal. The platform makes it easy for your team to view customers’ order history and activity anywhere and anytime.
Let’s look at some key benefits of a B2B sales portal for your company:
ERP integration allows your B2B self-service portal and ERP system to share data seamlessly and in real time. As a result, the platform and ERP solution keep all your store activity synchronized automatically with your back-office operations.
For instance, a customer can see if a specific product is in stock before ordering. If the item is available and they place the order, the ERP will create an invoice and update your inventory. It will also send shipping notifications and tracking details to the client so they can track their order from purchase to delivery.
Easy Account Management for Sales Reps
A B2B portal makes it much easier for sales reps to do their job. For example, they can access complete customer profiles to understand each client’s buying patterns and tailor their sales approach accordingly.
They can also check product availability and stock levels in real time to provide accurate information and even upsell or cross-sell related items in stock during sales calls.
A sales portal also equips your team by:
- Giving them access to financial data: They can see a customer’s credit limits, payment history, and outstanding invoices. That becomes crucial when negotiating terms, offering discounts, and addressing payment-related questions.
- Improving sales forecasting: With combined data from the ecommerce portal and ERP, your team can analyze trends, identify the best-selling products, and forecast future sales. This helps them plan and set realistic sales targets.
Enhanced Security Features
B2B purchases often involve huge amounts of money and sensitive data, making them key targets for cybercriminals. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 800,000 internet scam complaints that resulted in losses of $10.3 billion in 2022
For this reason, B2B customer portals typically have robust security features like intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption to protect customer data and transactions.
For example, k-ecommerce’s PCI certification protects your customers’ credit card data and gives them the highest level of security possible. Plus, our cloud is fully PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) certified, which makes it even easier for your business to comply with PCI-DSS.
Final Thoughts: B2B Portal — How It Benefits Your Customers and Business
Today’s B2B buyers want to self-serve regardless of what ecommerce platform you use, and online stores offering this option can gain a competitive advantage.
A B2B ecommerce solution tailor-made to B2B businesses can help you leverage self-service options to grow your brand. With k-ecommerce, your web store will always be available 24/7 for customers to purchase from wherever they are and whenever it’s convenient for them.
Want to see how k-ecommerce works? Watch our interactive demo.
You can also contact us today to learn more about how k-ecommerce can help you create a successful B2B ecommerce portal that meets your customers’ needs.