5. Customers are complaining because they can’t see real-time inventory in the portal
In both B2B and B2C, customer experience depends on reliability–and this is especially true for manufacturers. If your web portal isn’t reliable, customers won’t use it.
Inventory availability (and/or customer-specific ATP calculation) is key to a seamless customer experience for a manufacturer. When buyers are putting together an order, they want to know how much product is in stock. Whether you’re showing them the literal, total inventory, or a fractional ATP calculation personalized to their account, you need to show them something.
Since inventory data lives in your ERP (and gets updated there in real time), your B2B ecommerce portal needs to communicate with SAP to give customers that information.
SOLUTION: Choose a customer portal solution that displays real-time inventory
For manufacturers, an online customer experience demands real-time inventory availability. When you choose a solution that’s built around a real-time integration to your SAP ERP system, you can show your users the real-time inventory/ATP which they need to place orders with confidence.
6. Customers have abandoned your online experience
Early adopters of web portal technology often encounter a unique problem. Customers have abandoned the old B2B ecommerce solution and gone back to phone/fax/email ordering—or worse, turned to the competition, who does have a beautiful, functional online customer experience.
The “Amazon effect” has raised expectations for all parties involved, and if your older web portal doesn’t support the kind of functionality which users now expect, they may get too frustrated to keep using it. Here are some things which are often lacking in older manufacturing customer experiences:
- No product photos
- No product descriptions
- No related/recommended products
- Hard to look up products by category number
- Difficult checkout process
- No credit card acceptance
- No visibility into account history/standing
SOLUTION: Update your B2B ecommerce portal with the functionality which customers desperately need (and launch a dedicated customer relationship campaign to aid adoption)
If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to play a bit of catchup. The first thing is to add customer-critical functionality to your existing web portal (or replace the portal with a new solution if necessary).
But that’s not enough. You’ll also need to address the fact that your old solution wasn’t meeting customer needs and may have created lingering frustration. You’ll need to demonstrate empathy through focused communications with customers to show them that you’ve heard their concerns, and you’ve launched a new customer experience based on that feedback.
7. Customers need more transparency on their account status, order status, and shipment status
If your B2B portal doesn’t provide visibility into account history/status (or if you don’t have a B2B portal at all), your customer experience isn’t optimized. If customers have to call in or send an email to reprint documents, get order confirmation, or track order status, you’re adding friction that your users don’t need.
SOLUTION: Launch an online customer experience with self-service account management built in
A customer portal should allow users to manage their accounts through self-service. Reprinting documents, tracking orders, monitoring order status—none of this should require manual intervention from your Customer Service department.
That’s why Corevist offers real-time SAP integration for self-serve account management. It ensures that your users can track shipments and order status, plus access all the historical information associated with their account—even for orders that weren’t placed through Corevist.
8. Customers can’t order from your digital catalog
It’s great to have a digital catalog. It gives your customers a single source of truth for your offerings.
The problem arises when you have a digital catalog with no ordering capabilities.
85% of B2B customers will abandon a supplier with a bad digital experience. If they have to pick up the phone to place an order after browsing your catalog, or if they have to log into a different system to place the order, then you have friction in your customer experience.
SOLUTION: A unified customer experience for catalog and online ordering
A digital catalog should never be separated from order placement. When you bring these two functions together under one “roof,” you create a seamless customer experience. Buyers can get in, build an order, place it, and get on with their day.
9. Customers have to use EDI for catalog requests, inventory checks, & tracking
Granted, some customers will always use EDI for order placement. Your biggest accounts probably have their workflows in place for procurement.
But what about routine requests for information?
No one wants to send an EDI 846 (inventory check) or an EDI 832 (catalog pricing request). In the age of Amazon, people expect this information to be available through self-service.
If your customers have to use EDI to get routine information, chances are, you have an opportunity to improve your customer experience.
SOLUTION: A self-service portal for routine lookups
Even EDI customers appreciate the ability to check inventory, track orders and invoices, and pay off invoices online. It’s simply more convenient than alternative workflows. It allows them to get in, get out, and get on with their day.