Essential B2B eCommerce Features for Manufacturers
B2B ecommerce features make selling industrial equipment and parts online a breeze. Find out what these powerful B2B ecommerce features are and how you can use them in this article!
If you didn’t know, B2B digital commerce has been increasingly monopolizing the manufacturing industry. Just shy of 51% of total B2B sales made by manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors were generated through ecommerce. The pace of digital sales growth is nearly seven times that of the whole industry! B2B digital sales channels reached $9 trillion, up 10% YOY in 2019, while total manufacturing & distributor sales were $17.5 trillion, up only 1.5% during the same time.
As more manufacturers continue to see the benefits of digital commerce, many have found the vast number of features ecommerce provides for manufacturers to have revolutionized and changed the way they do business. In this article, we’ve compiled the top ecommerce features that manufacturers selling through ecommerce have found tremendous growth with.
1. Accounts & Personalized Catalogs
Buyer and seller accounts are at the heart of B2B ecommerce. As a manufacturer or wholesaler, you most likely won’t be treating all of your customers equally. That’s where buyer accounts come in; your customers can create an account to log in and manage their relationship with you. You can restrict access to the public and only let pre-registered clients access the hidden product catalog.
Giving your customers the ability to order anytime without relying on a sales rep empowers the buyer and saves you time & resources. Customers can manage their accounts with multiple self-service functionalities. Your online store’s accounts can let customers:
- Process & manage orders
- Access tailored catalogs & inventory
- View custom pricing and request quotes
- Manage sub-accounts at a company level and their user’s permissions
- Find specific part numbers
- Develop specific lists of products to order quickly and re-order in the future.
- View detailed order status
As a site admin, you’ll have the ability to segment customer accounts and view B2B customer groups based on location, order volume & frequency, catalog selection, and order history. With segmented accounts, you can offer a personalized experience for each individual with specific catalogs, pricing, inventory, MOQ’s, discounts, payment options, shipping, and more.
2. Bulk & Seamless Ordering
B2B buyers are more likely to place large quantity orders than B2C buyers. With bulk & seamless ordering features, you can set minimum order quantities, maximum order quantities, and specific quantity multiples to specify how much of a product customers can order. Additionally, you can offer tiered pricing based on order quantities, giving those customers who order more a better discount.
B2B ecommerce platforms also offer a feature that lets customers place orders by part number or SKU, so they can simply order all at once, instead of having to search your catalog manually.
3. Manage & Track Orders
Before you ship off your products, your customers might still want to modify and update their existing orders. Customer accounts can have the ability to add more products, edit quantities, modify payment options, shipping, etc., so both of you can save each other a phone call or email. You can offer order status tracking so customers can know exactly where their order is in the purchase process and whether or not they can still modify their orders.
4. Quoting System
If your product is complex and would require you to offer a quote first, you don’t have to do it manually anymore. B2B ecommerce can automate a quotation process, where customers can self-service with a ‘request for quote’ form, saving you and the buyer time in the deal. Your quote-request form should require specific information from buyers so that your salespeople can use it to go off of, formulate, and send a detailed quote at any time.
5. Build-Your-Own & Configuration Tool
As a manufacturer, your customers most likely require precise specifications and configuration.
Ecommerce technologies allow your customers to self-service the configuration stage with tools like 3D product configurators. 3D product configurators are game-changing in the sense that it gives customers the ability to configure their products deep down into their specifics and see how it will look with dynamic visuals. Ecommerce platforms won’t come with a 3D product configurator built in, so you’ll need to add on a 3rd party application like ThreeKit to create a 3D experience your customers will find helpful.
6. Chatbots & 24/7 Helpdesks
Unless you have a dedicated team of support staff working around the clock, a chatbot or automated helpdesk can allow you to provide 24/7 customer support. Customers can use these help desk tools to easily and quickly get answers to questions they have at any time. Many help desk tools like Gorgias are a complete customer service tool that helps you engage with website visitors and support them in every stage of the buying process.
Most ecommerce platforms allow you to seamlessly integrate with your existing systems like CRM, ERP, shipping, payment, and other software to help keep your business running smoothly. By combining these external systems, you can extend the functionality of your ecommerce platform, centralizing all the parts and pieces of your business for a better experience.
8. Live Inventory Tracking
The last thing you want is for a customer to make a large order, only to find out there isn’t enough inventory stock. Keeping your inventory updated is one of the most important things to maintain in an ecommerce store. Centralize your inventory data and integrate it with other sales channels and ERP systems for live visibility in your supply chain.
9. Flexible Payments
Just because you are selling online doesn’t mean you’re only limited to online payments. Many B2B ecommerce features allow you to integrate a variety of offline payments like purchase orders, checks, and corporate accounts.
As a seller, you can also offer specific customer accounts with payment alternatives like credit lines, bank transfers, purchase orders, check/money orders, trade credits, etc. You can set a variety of payment options for specific customers at the account and role level. For instance, depending on the customer’s creditworthiness, you can allow purchase orders at the account level and have specific roles to approve the order.
One of the advantages of ecommerce is that you can track and see relevant data on every corner of your online business. Ecommerce platforms integrate with analytics tools like Google Analytics to offer data reporting on website traffic, customer behavior, page performance, and much more. You can use the analytic tools to gain actionable insights to discover new opportunities or identify roadblocks.
We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to ecommerce features for manufacturers. Now that you have a general understanding of the useful ecommerce functionalities for your business, you can start exploring the platforms that work best for you; check out our blog on The Best Ecommerce Platforms for Manufacturers here.