There are interesting things that happen in the B2B buying process that are unique, that just don’t happen in B2C situations. In the B2C process, I am one individual buying for myself. Maybe I’ll have something shipped to a friend just to challenge the B2C ecommerce world.
The B2B Buyer Situation
Let’s say that I am a buyer for multiple stores with multiple locations. And let’s say that I am part of a team of buyers for those same stores and locations. I am responsible for some of the products in my category. We are all out there buying on historical data on what we know what was needed for our stores. We set up separate orders for each store so that those orders get shipped to the appropriate store. This in itself is a very detailed and lengthy process. It gets more complicated than that though.
What happens when I get sick, I get on a buy, I go on vacation? What happens when my teammate has to fill in for me? He goes out and he buys things that I would normally buy for those stores in those locations.
And in most systems today, that would look like I was buying. If my teammate bungles that by overbuying or whatever else that he might do, he could also under-buy. Well, that could be a problem in the end. It’s going to look like I did that and that’s going to come back on me.
It is possible to set up your B2B e-commerce in such a way, that it actually takes all of those possibilities, those variants into consideration. Imagine being a buyer for a grocery business – the variations on peanut butter alone! The system will allow you, as a team purchase across all products and yet keep each team member separate. It also allows you to purchase one time off a single page for all of those stores and have those orders repetitively come back to you so that you can reorder from a single screen but have all of the products distributed through the appropriate stores.
These are just a few of the variants that don’t exist consistently in today’s B2B eCommerce. What you find are multiple buyers having to spend a tremendous number of hours to place the correct order with the correct variety of products, shipped to the correct location.
A system that combines AI, Predictive Search and a Product Information Management program and a back-end system will provide businesses with close to real-time ordering with their customers, with their customers not having to really think about or pay too much attention. By combining these features, we end up gathering data. Using analytics and robotic process automation facilitates the decision process, based on what’s happened in the past. The more information we get, the better the analytics and the process becomes.
As we know in the B2B world, buyers don’t tend to go in and buy one item, finish the sale and move on. In reality, they may have that shopping cart open all day as they work through the things that they are trying to buy.
Typically, B2B buyers will be going in and placing multiple sessions in your shopping cart. Most of the time, they can only deal with one store at a time and they sit there working through one location. Some of the larger distribution companies have customers that may order for a hundred stores or locations and that is onerous on your buyer. Imagine if the typical best in class is still handing an excel spreadsheet as tedious as it sounds. But if you can change that to a single interaction, that is one heck of a competitive advantage.
Ultimately, by enhancing the eCommerce shopping/buying experience, a B2B company will be able to retain and delight its current buyers. It is much easier to offer volume discounts, multiple pricing structures, you can negotiate much easier with your buyers with better, timely analytics.