3 signs you should consider implementing a B2B portal for distributors and customers

22.5.2024

Content

According to Avionos consulting firm →, 87% wholesalers are willing to spend more on a high-quality B2B portal. The same study states: 90% Customers are ready to go to competing companies when the supplier's digital channel (that is, a B2B portal or at least an electronic catalog) does not meet their needs.

Does this mean that a B2B portal is a must for all companies that specialize in B2B sales? No As long as developing (which costs at least 5 million rubles) and maintaining the portal do not pay off several times over, there is no point in implementing a special IT solution.

In this article, KT.team experts will talk about the “red flags” that signal that it is dangerous to postpone the automation of B2B sales any longer.

Why do you need a portal for working with B2B deals?

How often do you use online stores, marketplaces, and delivery services not for work but for yourself? We will not be mistaken if we assume: at least once a week, or even every day.

Buying online is already a common behavioral pattern for modern people. Even MLM brands that completely relied on sales representatives and paper catalogs a couple of years ago use this.

A B2B portal is a tool for online sales in the B2B industry. Just like in a regular online store, customers can view the current catalog and prices here, place an order and check its status, see the history of interaction with the seller, and chat with technical support.

But not only that. Through the B2B portal, the seller and the buyer exchange documents (contracts, invoices, reconciliation reports), check the status of receivables and payment limits.

Какие процессы автоматизирует B2B-портал

Получите чек-лист процессов, которые можно полностью автоматизировать

Let's land the theory on specific case→, with whom the KT.team worked just a couple of years ago.

Our client was a division of a large holding company, a manufacturer of cosmetics and household chemicals. This particular division specializes in professional cosmetics for beauty salons and private craftsmen. Traditionally, this division sold through distributors and sales representatives; all interactions, from individual pricing and ordering to closing documents, were manual.

As a result, up to 80% of sales reps spent on routine tasks.

After implementing the B2B portal:

  • sales representatives are concentrating on attracting new customers, processing non-standard orders and promoting new or low-turnover products instead of issuing endless lists and acts;
  • the number of errors in calculating personal prices has decreased to 0 — now prices are automatically collected from the CRM B2B portal, rather than a sales representative manually checking prices using plates;
  • the number of errors when placing orders has decreased to 0 (on the side of sales representatives). Due to the “repeat order” function and the ability to create a basket on their own, the buyer can be sure that he will receive exactly what he ordered;
  • when ordering, the customer sees available balance for a specific item in stock — the sales representative does not have to check warehouse programs and clarify information for the buyer;
  • sales representatives you don't have to manually calculate the shipping cost — everything is automated;
  • the company accepts orders even from regions where its sales representatives are not available;
  • the effectiveness of promotions has increased by promptly notifying customers about current offers through a special section in your personal account

How to understand that it's time to implement a B2B portal: 3 signs

If you have a modest flow of orders, managers easily process all requests, and support requests are very rare, then you can easily do without a portal.

However, there are signs that indicate the need to automate the acceptance of bulk orders and go online if the company has not yet done so.

  1. The KPIs of individual managers and the entire sales department are not or are rarely achieved.

Let's make a reservation right away that this is not about systematically high KPIs — this is a problem that cannot be solved by automation. But why don't good salespeople keep up with their very realistic plans?

The reason for this is often simple: instead of selling, the manager engages in a low-skilled routine. He manually places orders from regular customers, processes documents (or checks their status), compares prices, updates catalogs, draws up a checklist... These tasks can take up to 80% of a manager's time, with virtually no impact on achieving KPIs.

And while he is busy with his routine, he is not looking for new markets and new customers, he spends less time selling products from special offers

In addition, employees who are overloaded with routine are under constant stress. They lose the ability to quickly and effectively solve non-standard issues and forget to offer interesting options to customers. And all this again has a negative impact on revenue.

The B2B portal automates repetitive tasks of the same type. This allows managers to refocus on tasks that directly affect business profits.

B2B-портал позволяет отслеживать метрики работы с дистрибьютором и партнером | KT.Team

At the same time, it is easier for a manager to monitor the implementation of KPIs and the effectiveness of each manager without filling out additional forms and papers. All information about the interaction between company managers and customers is stored in the B2B portal and is available for analysis.

  1. You get negative feedback from customers due to improper order composition or timely deliveries.

“I ordered 20 pallets of feather pasta and they brought me spaghetti.”

“The final score is different from what the manager said.”

“The thread pitch on the screws is smaller than what they sent me to the checkpoint.”

“I asked to repeat the previous order, but they brought me something unclear.”

If customers make returns or write complaints with similar wording, your company has most likely become hostage to the disparate storage of data about goods, prices, promotions, customers and orders.

There are no obvious culprits here: the current information storage system is historic. And a manager, like any living person, sooner or later makes mistakes when creating orders and documents manually. Even 10 years of experience won't save you from copying the wrong Excel cell and a finger flinching on the “0" key when placing an order.

In a situation where there are a lot of applications, and the information is scattered from different sources and not all managers have access to it, mistakes due to the human factor cannot be avoided. Not to mention how much the overall speed of order processing and the accuracy of their execution suffer. If this story is about you, the development of a B2B portal should be included in the list of priorities for the near future.

С B2B-порталом легко отслеживать статус каждой сделки и каждый этап работы | KT.Team

A B2B portal for distributors and customers will provide access to all necessary information for both managers and buyers. In a single window, they will see the product catalog and current stock balances, order statuses, documents and reports, delivery details, the composition of previous orders, and so on. As a result, all information will be transparent and controllable for procurement participants.

Какие процессы автоматизирует B2B-портал

Получите чек-лист процессов, которые можно полностью автоматизировать
  1. The average time from a request to sending a checkpoint is a business day or more.

Another “red flag” is the poor quality of communication with the client.

How do you usually communicate with a client if there is no B2B portal? Email is becoming the main channel.

Imagine: at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, a client sent an email to your manager saying, “Good afternoon. I am interested in such a set of spare parts and consumables for Nissan (followed by a 50-point list with quantity). Is it in stock? I'm waiting for the checkpoint.”

At this time, the manager is already processing orders for nine other clients, so he doesn't touch the email until he's free from previous tasks.

By 3:00 p.m., the manager finally gets his hands on an answer. But he can't send a checkpoint yet. He needs to check the current catalog, check current prices and promotions, for example, whether a single order of 1.5 million or more now has a 5% discount for regular customers. Take a look at the warehouse program and check inventory for consumables. These tasks are not quick, so he, at best, sends a standard stub letter: “Good afternoon, we have received the request, we are counting. I'll be back tomorrow morning.”

At 17:00, the manager realizes that the original spare part requested by the customer is currently not available. But there are three analogues. Knowing the customer's requirements, he decides to check with the purchasing department whether delivery with original spare parts is planned in the near future?

By this time, the procurement department has already completed its work and, of course, does not see a request from a colleague until the next morning.

Since the purchasing department also has quite a few requests, they will not respond instantly the next day — by 12 o'clock, when they check the purchase and supply plans.

Only by this time will the sales manager have all the necessary information to send the checklist. According to a very optimistic scenario, by 13:00 on Tuesday, the client will receive the first checkpoint in response to a request from 9:00am on Monday. A total of at least 28 hours.

It doesn't seem to be very long on a company-wide scale. But...

The customer's personal account and the Catalog on the B2B portal make it possible to reduce the lag between an application and an invoice to several minutes. The buyer can choose the goods himself, the portal will generate a payment invoice with the correct prices and personal discounts and all supporting documents.

Понятные и прозрачные запросы от партнеров с B2B-порталом | KT.Team

The manager will only connect to difficult positions — those that are currently out of stock or those for which there are several analogues.

One of the main features B2B portals→ — creating a positive customer experience. If a customer can view their purchase history, get personal discounts and prices for frequently ordered goods, get closing documents in a couple of clicks and upload all the necessary analytics, they are significantly more likely to become a regular customer and not go to competitors.

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