An often overlooked benefit of B2B ecommerce tools is value for in-house sales and customer service teams. Both are becoming more efficient with digital tools, resulting in happier customers who spend more money.
E-commerce gives users – internal and external – the ability to help themselves. In addition, many of the functions that customers need are the same as those of sales and service personnel. Data integrations can turn an e-commerce platform into an all-in-one information repository that answers questions from all parties, increasing efficiency and revenue.
Therefore, modern B2B e-commerce software increasingly serves dual users: employees and customers.
Consider the online tasks that customers and sales and service reps have in common:
- Search for products.
- To order something.
- Look up order history.
- Find out about the use of products.
- Process return.
- Manage account details.
- Set spending limits.
- Access (or create) the entire line of products.
- Access (or create) frequently ordered products.
- Request (or reply to) special prices.
- Get (or reply to) a quote.
Sales and service teams traditionally rely on isolated business software. But a modern e-commerce platform – with robust site search, product descriptions, images, and datasheets – built into the management software can serve both internal and external users and avoid duplicates and inconsistencies.
Of course, sales and customer service reps have unique needs. An e-commerce platform can provide these functions. Examples include:
- Impersonation or masquerade functions that allow internal employees to search for a person or company and log in as that user without needing the password. The employees access the site as customers and thus offer improved support.
- Create and access a list of a customer’s available products. Allowing sales or service reps to create or edit this list helps customers.
- Online response to a request for a quote. Having sales reps respond through the website can speed up the process.
- Notes. Giving sales and service teams the ability to add internal notes to an order or quote optimizes communication while the history is being recorded.
- Adjustment of prices, discounts. Allowing employees to offer unique prices or discounts can remove barriers to sales, although this functionality typically requires controls or restrictions, depending on the employee role.
Not all B2B e-commerce software offers internal user functions. However, four platforms that do this are BigCommerce B2B Edition, Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud, Magento, and Oro. (My company is a reseller of BigCommerce and Optimizely.)
If your B2B platform doesn’t support internal functionality, ask your developers if it’s possible to add them. Be careful, however, as platform customizations can increase long-term maintenance costs and make future upgrades difficult.
Regardless of this, modern B2B e-commerce platforms should serve internal and external users and increase performance and flexibility for everyone. The result is happier customers and more sales.