There was a time when a distributor maintained inventory of products, customers placed orders, goods were shipped and a simple invoice was created and sent in the US mail. Then there was a time when B2B purchasers requested the ability to place orders online. The same model of open account purchase programs migrated to the web. Today’s B2B purchaser is looking for an more complex set of requirements.
These are the questions that B2B distributor face from their customers.
- Can you set us up which an account to place open orders?
- Can you set up multiple accounts for us so we can track spending according to specific cost centers?
- Can you arrange for certain purchasers of ours to require approval on large orders before you ship?
- Can you keep track of specific buyers and cap their spending based on specific time periods?
- Can we restrict who sees the custom product options to just the buyers authorized to order the more expensive version?
If your company has sales reps that handle these accounts, they may be providing special attention to these outliers. Your sales team is doing backflips to keep track of your customer’s exclusive purchasing rules. They are personally handling the orders to make sure all the rules are followed. This will work fine, right up until the point your sales team members need to take a vacation and the inside customer service rep fills orders that break the rules. This is all the result of your company’s lack of investment in B2B software that is flexible enough to track these unique business rules.
This may not be the case. Your operation may be more sophisticated. Your website can handle a supervisor approval function, or a cost center entry. It allows for credit card and purchase order payments. But there are other requirements your customer has requested the system cannot handle, and you are told by IT they will not be able to customize the system to match the requested functions.
This is where the microsite model works best. The whole system does not need to be rebuilt in order to provide the needed web-based purchasing configuration each of your key accounts requests.
Launch a dedicated website that operates exactly as your large account demands. The more you can make their purchasing experience centric to their specific requirements, the more you lock in their business, and shield them from the competition. Providing the highest levels of digital customization is the new best-practice for quality customer service. Your B2B accounts appreciate the personal attention from sales team members you provide. They will worship you for creating their ideal online, buyer centric experience.