How Manufacturers Can Fix B2B eCommerce UX Problems

Some manufacturers are taking it on the chin when it comes to B2B eCommerce.

In a recent survey of 250 B2B mystery buyers, DigitalCommerce360 exposed some uncomfortable trends. Buyers had many complaints, including lack of pricing transparency, the difficulty of completing a purchase, and a lack of clarity on how to navigate the customer journey.

These are significant issues. Whether you have a lackluster B2B eCommerce experience, or you’ve never entered the B2B eCommerce game, you’ll want to design your next B2B project to avoid them. 

Here’s how our clients solve the biggest issues highlighted in the report.

75% of B2B eCommerce sites didn’t show pricing

The goal of self-service is to empower customers to cover the entire buying journey on their own.

If they have to call to get pricing, something is broken.

Lack of pricing transparency hurts both the manufacturer and the customer. The manufacturer misses out on the cost savings of B2B eCommerce, since the ordering process still requires a human touch through phone or email.

Meanwhile, the customer runs into an obstacle that requires a phone call. This slows down the purchasing process and introduces uncertainty in the customer’s mind. 

It’s understandable that manufacturers would struggle to deliver pricing transparency. After all, every known customer has their own unique pricing rules. These rules are specified in the customer’s contract and built out in your SAP ERP system.

But there is a way forward. 

Our clients solve this issue with deep SAP integration in B2B eCommerce. With every B2B eCommerce user tied to a sold-to (customer) in SAP, our clients deliver 100% accurate, personalized pricing to every logged-in user. This functionality is built into the Corevist Platform.

52% of buyers said the customer journey was difficult to navigate

In the world of B2C eCommerce, the customer journey is fairly simple. Attract the buyer, merchandise to them, get the purchase (with immediate payment by credit/debit card), and give them real-time order status and shipment tracking.

In B2B eCommerce, the buyer journey may look like this—but it’s often more complex. Let’s look at every stage in the customer journey (and the difficulties that arise there).

The search for a product

The purchasing cycle may start with an internet search, a print catalog, a call with a sales rep, a buyer-side procurement system… The list is endless. 

However customers learn about your products, they need to get the same story (pricing, availability, documentation) from every channel (phone, fax, email, EDI, eCommerce). If customers are getting different stories from different channels, then you’re making the journey hard to navigate at the very beginning. 

Hint: This is why the Corevist Platform includes comprehensive, real-time SAP integration. It provides the same SAP data online that customers could get from a customer service rep who’s accessing SAP.

Education on specific products 

Since the customer is buying on behalf of their employer, who may have highly specific requirements, it’s critical to educate the customer with specifications, documentation, and tutorials. 

That may look like B2C-style merchandising (with promotions, recommended products, and so on), but it also means providing comprehensive technical information within each product listing. Without this information, buyers can get stuck at the consideration phase of the journey. 

Hint: This is why Corevist Scale supports rich product content like images, videos, downloadable documents, and more.

Self-service order placement, credit monitoring, and payments

In B2B, order placement doesn’t always coincide with payment. Typically, manufacturers need to support order placement by invoice in B2B eCommerce. Their customers also need some capability to track the status of those invoices. If the manufacturer offers credit terms, then the customer needs some visibility into their real-time credit status (to know if their new order will go on credit block).

Ideally, you should also provide self-service payment capabilities for customers—both to pay off invoices, and to pay with a credit card when they place an order.

Hint: This is why the Corevist Platform posts error-free orders instantly to SAP—and provides real-time credit status, invoice tracking, and the capability to add self-service payments. 

Order, shipment, and line-item tracking

When it comes to tracking, B2B buyers need more than simple order status and shipment tracking. They may need to see the status of individual line items, or they may need to change an order after placement (if your policies allow). And naturally, for every shipment, they need real-time tracking integration with major carriers. This is why every Corevist edition includes real-time tracking and history for all orders, shipments, and line items. 

Yes, the B2B buyer journey is complex. The key is to provide accurate data (through deep SAP integration) for every step of that journey. This is what the Corevist Platform provides.

81% of buyers said it was hard to make a purchase

This one isn’t surprising, given the complexity of B2B buying cycles—and the fact that every step of that customer journey depends on SAP integration.

If B2B eCommerce can’t show real-time product availability and pricing, buyers will struggle to complete the purchase. This is true even if they intended to place the order via EDI after checking price and availability in the B2B portal. However they intended to purchase, a lack of transparency introduces fear and doubt in their minds. 

Likewise, if the website doesn’t give them visibility into credit status, they may hesitate to make the purchase (whether via eCommerce or EDI).

And if the customer can’t tell whether a line item has shipped, they may have to purchase a similar product from a competitor to ensure they start their project on time.

In other words, B2B buyers need total transparency. The best way to provide that is to give them the appropriate interaction with SAP ERP in your B2B eCommerce portal.

This is what the Corevist Platform provides. 

The Corevist Platform | Full SAP Integration Included | Corevist, Inc.

Want to become Easier To Do Business With?

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Managed B2B portals and eCommerce with prebuilt integration for ECC and S/4HANA.

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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as content marketing manager. A blogger and journalist with a passion for B2B ecommerce, he has written for the Magento blog, Digitalcommerce360, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ERPgenie, and others.