We all know the power of B2C e-commerce platforms – the entire global B2C e-commerce market is anticipated to reach $6.2 trillion dollars by 2027. But what about B2B businesses, like CPG? It’s currently estimated that B2B e-commerce transactions would reach $1.2 trillion dollars by 2021, which is just a fraction of the B2C market. While trends are indicating that number should grow, we have to ask – why aren’t more B2B companies using e-commerce platforms?
To help your company get a head start, here is a guide you can use to best leverage B2B e-commerce capabilities.
Why should CPG consider B2B E-commerce programs?
B2B e-commerce platforms for CPG allows companies to centralize ordering functions, making life much easier for their customers. Using a computer or even a mobile device, customers want to be able to:
- Place orders at any time, especially repeat or standing orders
- Access product information
- Use self-service capabilities for billing or invoices
And because B2B e-commerce platforms integrate with a business’s pre-existing internal systems – think customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems – CPG can get a clearer, more holistic view of their operations and performance.
Benefits of B2B E-commerce
Some specific benefits of B2B e-commerce platforms are:
- Meet constantly changing customer goals and needs
We live in the time of “now.” People expect companies to respond to their needs quickly, and that’s certainly true for CPG organizations. With e-commerce capabilities, CPG can meet even the highest customer demands 24/7, because customers are able to access self-service capabilities via the e-commerce platform, while businesses can view customer orders instantly via the integrated ERP system.
- Provide seamless ordering experience
When orders are placed directly through your e-commerce platform, all customer information is collected and stored for easy reference. This level of service provides a seamless ordering experience for both you and your customers – everything is handled and processed by your ERP, CRM, and e-commerce platforms. This helps improve your customer service practices because employees will be able to easily find the information they need — like order numbers, delivery addresses, payment details, etc. — on one platform.
- Gain new analytics opportunities
Data is incredibly valuable when you’re analyzing your business performance and exploring areas where you can improve. B2B e-commerce platforms allow CPG organizations to easily capture and analyze the data that will influence business decisions and offer unique insights into things like:
- Marketing campaign performance
- Website traffic
- Sales effectiveness
- Customer buying habits and trends
You can use these insights to better understand your customers, improve your product and service offerings, and hone in on the activities that generate the most profit for your company. Together with your existing business systems, a B2B e-commerce platform can give your CPG company the leverage it needs to expand reach, reduce operational costs, and improve revenue.
- Minimize customer-facing costs
B2B e-commerce platforms allow you to automate a substantial portion of the processes that occur on the customer-facing side of business. Tasks that would normally take a salesperson extended time to complete — like checking inventory or processing a payment — can be done efficiently via online portals without requiring salesperson intervention. And because your sales team won’t be bogged down by as many tasks, they will have time to focus on other revenue-generating business initiatives.
- Improve and build long-term customer relationships
B2B e-commerce platforms have many features that make life easierfor organizations, but they also make things easier for the customer and can help improve that relationship. Online ordering systems allow you to use a number of features that streamline the customer’s ordering process, which can help improve customer satisfaction and ensure that they remain a customer for years to come. Some of the user-friendly features CPG can deploy include:
- Customer-specific pricing based on contracts and volume discounts
- Multiple payment options in terms, ACH, or credit cards
- Express ordering via file upload
- Account balance access
- Accepting invoice payments via direct debits in an account
- Customer credit limit checks via the portal, protecting them from overspending
- Increase efficiency around order automation
Because all orders are completed via the e-commerce portal, this automated process makes sales seamless and efficient. Pricing, inventory, shipping, and even discount data will be readily displayed and accessible to customers before, during, and following the transaction. Without ever having to interact with a salesperson, customers can order the materials or equipment they need, pay for the goods, and know when to expect delivery at their facility. And all of this happens with the click of a button.
Questions to Ask When Selecting a B2B E-commerce Platform
To meet current needs and grow with you in the future, your B2B e-commerce platform must be agile and scalable. The key to getting the most out of your e-commerce solution is to make sure you do your homework and find a solution that checks all your boxes.
When selecting and implementing a new e-commerce platform for your CPG operation, there are a few key things to consider. Ask these questions:
- Does the platform integrate with my ERP?
- Are the capabilities sufficient for my operation?
- Can we have multiple logins for multiple salespeople?
- Is there a reliable search function?
- Is the portal responsive, can the users use it on different devices?
- What will the requirements be for my IT team?
- Does this solution integrate with my shipping partners?
- What is the timeline for implementation?
To find the ideal B2B e-commerce platform, it is essential to ensure you are working with an e-commerce solution partner who meets or exceeds your needs in all of the aforementioned areas.
At Hitachi Solutions, we specialize in building customizable and fully scalable B2B e-commerce platforms for CPG. Our B2B e-commerce solution will help you expand your customer reach, improve customer service and retention, capitalize on valuable customer data, and ultimately generate more revenue.
To truly give you a comprehensive view of every aspect of your operations, our e-commerce modules are easily integrated with D365 Finance and Operations as well as D365 Customer Service. With all Hitachi platforms working together, you can offer your customers a completely streamlined experience. Contact us to learn more about our B2B e-commerce solutions.