What is a B2B order portal?

by Guillaume client BEGHIN on Sep 01, 2022

Although the customer experience in B2B is different from that in B2C, professional buyers are starting to expect from B2B companies and especially professionals such as wholesalers, manufacturers or distributors, the same personalized and intuitive experience to which they have become accustomed in going to classic B2C e-commerce sites like Amazon or Boulanger.

To meet these needs, companies and mainly VSEs and SMEs must modify their commercial strategy and equip themselves with digital tools, in particular B2B order portals to meet the need of their customers for more demanding relationships. digital sales, partly on new generations of buyers.

What is a B2B order portal?

A b2b order portal is above all a system allowing the efficient management of order intake, the monitoring of these but also all the information that results from it such as the monitoring of payment, delivery, customer satisfaction and after sales service.

The B2B order portal can be created and made available to your customers in different ways, including solutions developed by your ERP and website solutions developed to measure or in SaaS.

In most of the solutions offered, the advantage is to offer your customers a complementary order-taking service while allowing you to gain visibility on the web by showing your know-how and your range of products. for your business is that the teams will have a permanent overview of order information such as stocks or payment type and for the end customer visibility on the progress of their order.

A B2B order portal is unfortunately often considered a cost center by companies even though it is a way to develop your business, reduce marketing costs and retain B2B customers.

To do this, do not hesitate to calculate the return on investment, more commonly called the ROI , simply by calculating the estimated costs and gains, for this there are profitability simulators. However, a paradigm shift in VSEs/SMEs must take place in order to set up a B2B order portal in order to make it a revenue-generating competitive advantage. Many companies have already taken the plunge and are finding advantages in processing their orders via btob portals to increase their revenues, their profitability and meet new customer expectations. This same change is also possible for your business thanks to simple and quick solutions to implement.

Why set up a B2B order portal?

The key to making your portal a competitive advantage lies in improving the customer experience. A Walker Info study predicts that, within a few years, the B2B customer experience will have surpassed price and product as the main differentiator for wholesalers, manufacturers or producers. Already, 86% of B2B buyers are willing to pay more for a quality customer experience.

How can a B2B portal improve the overall customer experience to the point where it becomes a unique selling point for you as a wholesaler, manufacturer or distributor? Here are three starting points to achieve this goal:

1.Give access to a personalized catalog according to the user

B2B buyers want efficiency, transparency and effective service with their own business conditions. Ease of access to the product offering is no longer an element of differentiation for professionals but a necessity for every company. Without easy access to your product catalog or service offering, B2B customers will look for another supplier who is more open and transparent about their offering.

So, how do you create an online catalog? First, focus on removing barriers to purchase. If something on your site requires customers to take an extra step or use one more click to complete their purchases or check out their orders, see what you can do to make it simpler. Ease of access to your btob ordering portal not only simplifies the purchasing process, but also ordering, shipping, pricing and replenishment. B2b buyers expect the freedom to do all of these things on their own time, without having to speak to a representative.

2. Empower your customers to make the right purchases

You, wholesalers, manufacturers or distributors, once you have put in place the foundations of your online catalog or e-shop, you can begin to differentiate yourself by empowering buyers. Your B2B buyers want to easily access your site, quickly find what they're looking for, and feel confident in making the right decisions. This simplified purchasing process is even more important for B2B buyers because their work depends on purchasing the right products and finding the best solutions for their business.

Ensure your customers make the right purchases with a B2B portal including powerful search functionality, personalized product recommendations and other product-focused content, such as pdf documentation attached to the product sheet, guides or manuals. Buyer empowerment is about providing tools and content that put buyers in control of their purchases. To achieve this, you need functions tailored to their needs and showing customers the right content at the right time. To do this, your showcase site and your B2B portal must be unified.

When content and commerce come together, you can integrate rich content features like catalogs and recommended products into your portal. This way, your buyers will have all the product information they need on the same site where they make their final purchase, facilitating a better shopping experience.

3. Find ways to better serve your customers

The first two steps mentioned are mainly aimed at ensuring that your B2B portal is modern and equipped with the right btob features in order to truly make your B2B commerce experience a competitive advantage. In order to find new ways to meaningfully impact your buyers' business, you first need to know them well.

Do you know their mission? Their goals? During your customer meetings, seek to better understand your buyer to establish the list of features they need. In addition, it is strongly recommended to integrate communication systems into your B2B order portal such as a chat or contact form to be able to speak with you during the purchase.

4.Facilitate inventory management

Indeed, stock control is the keystone of wholesalers, manufacturers or distributors. For the most part, they have already implemented a digital management solution allowing them to track all stocks by centralizing management in an ERP or management software. Your order portal or B2B E-shop must be connected to your management software or ERP to avoid any out of stock or error in the order

If you have centralized inventory management, it will be important to connect all of your websites or b2b order portal to this centralized inventory via APIs, web services or FTP file transfer to ensure proper management.

Finally, remember these points:

User-friendliness: A B2B ordering portal allows your customers to order products and manage their accounts on their own terms. With a B2B ordering portal, they can order at the time that suits them best, from any device, phone, PC or tablet.

More flexibility for your staff : A b2b portal that includes features for your team gives you more flexibility in where they can provide your services. Your sales representatives can have access to everything they need when they are on site with a traveling customer, or at a trade show.

Reduced errors : A business-to-business portal eliminates double data entry, a source of errors that are frustrating for your customers and costly for you. A B2B ordering portal also eliminates inventory errors due to systems that are out of sync and resulting in lost sales because a customer goes elsewhere.

Time saving : Your employees won't have to waste time entering duplicate data to enter an order. They won't have to answer the phone to take orders, answer questions, provide product information, or give order updates. Instead, they can focus on building relationships and growing your company's business.

Easy to get started : Using a web-accessible solution allows your customers to connect from anywhere, whether abroad, on the move or even at home. In addition, a website can easily be bookmarked in its links or even as a shortcut on your phone or computer. Everyone will save time to access your product catalog and order if necessary.

Low cost of ownership: The SaaS-style subscription service, without long-term contracts, offers a low cost of ownership. And everything is included in that one cost: software updates, web hosting, technical support, training, security updates and monitoring, and more.

What are B2B order portal solutions?

Implementing an online ordering portal for you, wholesalers or manufacturers is beneficial, as you will have understood. There are web solutions to create your very accessible online ordering or e-commerce site, you will not need to invest in different licenses and software with more or less proven performance.

In fact, opting for this B2B portal and e-commerce platform tool means centralizing all your information in a single management tool useful for your business, so you will not need to purchase other software and therefore save money. For information, at Huggii, we implement a simple tool to determine the profitability of your online sales site project via this e-commerce profitability simulator.

There are many solutions for creating an e-commerce site or a B2B order portal, to name only the most famous, you will find CMS like Prestashop, Woocommerce or Shopify. These will give you the ability to create your online store, a dropshipping site, a b2b e-commerce site or your b2b merchant site. However, these are not turnkey solutions, in fact, a web agency, some technical knowledge and technical support will be necessary if you want specific characteristics for your activities as wholesalers, distributors or manufacturers. The other solution is to hire a web developer but this necessarily requires having the ability to manage them. If you do not know certain technical bases, it will be very difficult to quantify the working time, analyze the quality of the work provided and therefore quite simply to manage this person or team.

In addition, from the moment your b2b portal and its hosting are active, they include the act of guaranteeing the online availability of your website, the managed domain name as well as guaranteeing the connection to your ERP or CRM. You will be asked to manage all of this if you do not go through an all-inclusive offer. Therefore, support from a specialist, a web agency or a freelancer on the subject of B2B portals is strongly recommended in this case.

The other solution is to use SaaS solutions which allow you to obtain an order portal or B2B e-commerce site very easily without having to manage the entire aspect of creation. There are many solutions ranging from dedicated SaaS solutions offered by companies specializing in the b2b field to your ERP or CRM which can offer you a specific module.

In these solutions it is necessary to compare the advantages and functionalities of each solution but these solutions will have these advantages for the most part:

  • Quicker to set up
  • Less expensive
  • Requiring less knowledge
  • Specific features already created for professionals

Do not hesitate to consult several professionals specializing in the field to be sure you have the right answers and not waste your time.

Consult our latest articles if you want to learn a little more about the benefits of transitioning to e-commerce as professionals.