A B2B Web Portal to Benefit Both Your Business and Your Customers

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Good customer service used to depend on having the right person up-front (or the right sales reps on the road) dealing with your customers. The expertise of your employees is still paramount, but now it shows up in a different way: as a supplement to a B2B web portal with self-service capabilities.

With the proliferation of web stores, customers have become used to serving themselves. But they still rely on your business to make the experience friendly, straightforward, and efficient. Using your B2B web portal as a self-service store and giving your customers the level of service that will earn their loyalty is no small feat. You need the right tools and the right processes.

The right e-commerce solution will let you put together a comprehensive self-service B2B web portal that will benefit your business and your customers. Enhance your customer care by using your B2B web store as a portal for customer self-service, without compromising on quality.

What can your B2B web portal do for your customers?

Here are 6 valuable services:

  1. Provide accurate, reliable product information

Providing customers with all the data they need about a product without overwhelming them can be challenging, especially for businesses with large inventory or complex products. For example, even a slight size difference in machine parts means that the item in question won't meet your customer's needs.

You can ensure product data accuracy in your web store by using a single source of information such as your ERP or product information management (PIM) system. It will be easy to update your information throughout the system so everyone is on the same page and inaccurate information doesn't reach your customer.

User-friendly navigation depends on good user experience (UX) design and intelligent use of product data. Allow your customers to search by item number as well as product name. Let them filter results to narrow down to appropriate choices and zero in on the right product.

  1. Simplify online ordering

Once customers find the product or service they're searching for, make it easy for them to order. A key to facilitating self-service ordering is granting insight into real-time inventory availability. True ERP integration ensures that your B2B web portal displays accurate and up-to-date inventory levels, so customers can be sure you have enough of the product they need in stock.

Your system also has to ensure that buyers can only place orders that conform to your existing agreements with them, e.g., staying within the agreed minimum or maximum orders.

Your web store can also offer hands-off, self-service functionality. Our Sana Commerce web store has an excellent example of self-service functionality with our "Represent a Customer" feature. This feature allows your designated account manager or sales representative to assist your customer in self-service activities such as generating a price quote, confirming which product best meets your customer's needs, checking on shipping status, or facilitating payments.

Additional self-service features allow customers to place orders remotely while at a trade show, field sales event, or anywhere where you may not have easy access to your ERP.

  1. Facilitate online invoice payments

Your B2B web store can be a one-stop self-service portal. Allow customers to view and reconcile all their invoices online, even for orders placed via other channels, such as phone or fax. This is another feature made possible by seamless integration between your e-commerce platform, your ERP system, and a payment service provider.

  1. Answer frequently asked questions

How much time do your employees spend answering customer questions? If your client wonders which product to order, instead of calling your sales department with questions about technical specifications or even product availability, they can visit your customer portal and find the answers themselves.

They can also find out the status of their order, check their order history, etc. This saves time for both the customer and your employees and frees your team to address more complex questions.

  1. Manage returns (RMA) efficiently

Even with all these advancements in client enablement, a customer may wish to return an item. If they do, your web store should let them manage this part of the fulfillment process as well.

You can facilitate this through an online self-service portal letting your client submit a return request. They could upload documents or share photos of damaged products, for instance.

Using the same channel for returns as the original order makes things as easy as possible for your customers and perhaps makes a potentially negative experience with your products and services turn out well. They will appreciate how easy it is to do business with you.

  1. Improve overall customer satisfaction

Seamless integration between your web store and your existing ERP system helps your business provide a comprehensive and user-friendly self-service B2B web portal that goes beyond simple fulfillment. An order might begin with a quote and end with invoice payment, but an enduring business partnership requires more. 71% of professional buyers say that self-service availability influences their loyalty to a business or vendor.

By giving your customers round-the-clock access to the information they need, you not only make them less reliant on your opening hours, but you also empower them to do business on their terms, with you as their trusted partner.

The right e-commerce solution can be beneficial for your business and your customers. Self-service B2B web portals streamline business processes for your company and empower your customers by giving them the access they need to help themselves.

If you'd like to know what a fully integrated self-service B2B web portal can do for your business, download our Sana Commerce Customer Portal factsheet.

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