Use Online Sales to Improve Efficiency for B2B Commerce
The drive to run an efficient business is something that my company has in common with pretty much all other B2B companies over the world. But do all of these companies realize that adding an online sales portal is an important ingredient of a streamlined business? Let me explain to you why this is the case.
Online orders take you less time to process. Orders that come in through an online sales portal take only a fraction of the time to process compared to orders that are processed manually and placed by phone, e-mail or fax. Especially if the online orders are automatically sent to your ERP system, your company can save a lot of time.
Another issue that can take up a lot of time is running out of stock. When customers place orders ‘offline’, they can’t really depend on accurate stock information and run the risk of ordering products that can’t be delivered on time. As a result they often have to be contacted and asked if they would like to order alternative products, or wait for when your inventory is up to standard. With an online sales portal, there will be none of this. Customers have direct insight in accurate stock levels and you’ll never have to run out of stock again.
Online ordering is less sensitive for mistakes. If your customers place their orders directly in your online sales portal, there is less chance of miscommunication. This is because you have taken out the step of the process where most mistakes are made. Your customer support or sales support employee no longer has to manually copy the order information into your ERP or administration system. Mistakes that are caused by manual processing often include shipment returns, which are expensive and time consuming.
You will save time answering simple questions. Customers can easily find the answer to most questions they might have themselves. According to research done by the Acquity Group 71% of B2B buyers even prefer to conduct their own online research before contacting a sales rep.
That is if you have an online sales portal with all product information like (customer specific) pricing and accurate stock level available to them. So if you don’t have that… they will have to call you, or send you an e-mail for every simple question they might have. This is why adding an online sales portal to your business is already a big win for efficiency.
Your own sales team can find all the information they need in one place. If you setup an online sales portal, you make all relevant product information available at one location, anytime and anywhere. Just as Justin King mentions in his blog about the benefits of B2B e-commerce, an online sales portal will soon become a very convenient tool for everybody in the organization to lookup product information, prices, product images, stock levels and so on. If you do this right, all colleagues involved in sales will embrace the online sales portal. And by the way, if they love it, there is a pretty good chance they will promote it among your customers, leading to better adoption and more efficiency. It’s that simple.
Your outside sales reps become more effective. If the online sales portal is up and running, sales reps can have instant access to all product information, pricing and stock. Also information regarding the order history of a customer, possible outstanding amounts and frequently ordered products are available at-a-glance. Using all this information in meetings with customers will really make your employees operate much more effective. Now they can make more specific product suggestions based on previous orders, on the spot.
Besides that, any order the customer would like to place with the sales rep, can be processed directly in the sales portal, showing the customer specific pricing and taking into account their particular ordering conditions. We make this available for our customers in a mobile ordering app that also works offline. Just in case there is no coverage at the customers’ location.
Conclusion Maintaining an efficient sales process is not just about helping your business and serving your customers better. It is also about keeping your business in the best possible shape. And being in good shape does not only help you beat the competition, it makes you feel much better, doesn’t it?
Want to find out more about the less obvious benefits of e-commerce for B2B companies?
Originally published at www.sana-commerce.com on March 11, 2015.