Many B2B companies are already experiencing an increase after the pandemic. The growth in sales is welcome, but it can also present challenges. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare for the pent-up demand.
Communicate shortages. The supply chains have not stabilized. Some manufacturers use domestic suppliers for consistency and reliability.
Surprising a customer with late or canceled orders due to stock outages is detrimental to the relationship. Overcome:
- Communicate when an item will be available instead of just showing “Out of Stock”. This sets expectations and helps capture orders from buyers who might be looking elsewhere.
- Allow visitors to enter an email address that will be automatically notified when the item is back in stock.
- Consider offering an alternative product in stock.
- Direct customers to another website where they can buy the product. It creates trust and credibility.
Optimize customer service. Errors occur when a customer service team does not have the information they need, or is otherwise inexperienced or overworked. Long waiting times and a lack of answers frustrate buyers.
An ecommerce platform can be a great tool for customer service and reduce reliance on employees. Modern platforms:
- Combine sales with fulfillment. Disruptions occur when the orders are not digital, e.g. For example, when a salesperson takes orders over the phone, writes orders on paper or even receives faxes. Manual ordering leads to errors.
- Notify customers of partially completed orders.
- Support customer service teams who use the website to answer questions and get information quickly. Many manufacturers and distributors find that their website is easier to navigate than internal systems! Customer service staff can share links with buyers and keep track of resources like datasheets and safety specifications.
Self-service ordering. If you rely solely on B2B salespeople for order processing, bottlenecks and missed opportunities arise. Salespeople shouldn’t do things that customers could do themselves. A good B2B ecommerce website will:
- Make it easy to order for self-service. Smaller, simpler, and repeat orders usually don’t require face-to-face interaction.
- Reduce human involvement. For example, with software that configures prices, customers can create their own offers that a salesperson can review or respond to.
Prepare for Digital-First B2B. The strategic planning is easy to miss. The future of B2B trade is digital, as Covid-19 has painfully shown. Prepare now for the post-pandemic wave and beyond. Ask yourself:
- How is the digital transformation affecting my business?
- Which digital functions would offer our customers added value?
- How could digital tools strengthen my company’s competitive position and remove obstacles and threats?
Having a digital foundation is critical to B2B growth as well as testing and improving sales and customer service. It enables your business to thrive on the immediate upswing and afterwards.