E-commerce for distributors is much more than just selling. Providing better, timely and more efficient customer service is crucial to gaining momentum in loyalty and sales.
In the past, customers in the B2B part required a certain amount of manual holding in the purchase process. Now they want to do their own research and make purchases now and in their spare time.
Creating this experience for customers is key for B2B e-commerce brands that want to grow. Building long-term relationships with customers requires information to be accessible and personalized based on their needs and history - also known as a stable customer portal.
It is no secret that B2B trading for distributors has changed dramatically in the last few years.
Huge leaps in the world of technology have changed the way customers engage and interact with brands - even the methods used only a few years ago are now obsolete and inappropriate.
With more options available than ever, it's no surprise that customers expect personalized self-service experiences that they can manage on their own.
In this article we will discuss what a client portal is, why it is important and the first steps in planning and starting one.
What is a client portal?
Think of a customer portal as a custom space where customers can manage their accounts, make new purchases, view their order history, and gather product inspiration.
It is closed by an entrance system and the portal looks different for each client. As part of a broader e-commerce website, the customer portal is a small corner, accessible only to pre-registered customers and previous buyers.
Client portals can also be very flexible.
Not every customer has the same needs, so building flexibility in their experience with your portal is key. Divide buyers into groups based on their demographics, purchasing power, and past behavior, and offer them access to relevant content based on their group needs.
In fact, this may seem like a branded portal to your biggest customers with recommended products specific to their industry or customer type.
Other activities that customers can perform through a distribution portal include:
Tracking of transit orders
View the history of their orders
Manage their delivery preferences
Checking and printing invoices and receipts
Make payments against invoices or open orders
Preservation of their preferred payment methods
Updating company profile information
A recent survey found that 67% of participants would rather have access to a self-service customer portal than talk to a sales representative. We can assume that this number will only increase when consumers become acquainted with technology and self-service options become widely available. A whole new generation of B2B buyers expect the self-service option when shopping online - whether they are buying for personal use or business.
Where do customer portals fit in as part of a B2B store?
Your B2B website is the portal to the client portal. The portal is part or subset of the e-commerce store, but is often overlooked and underused.
Customers arrive at your site and log in to their personalized account to receive detailed information. This is only for buyers and registered buyers, not for wider consumers.
Think of your entire website as a framework, and the customer portal as an element in it.
Most importantly, the customer portal is just one digital point of contact in the larger sales cycle. It creates a seamless experience for customers who have provided data through previous purchases or a relevant browsing history.
The benefits of creating a great customer portal
Too often, the customer portal or My Account area in the e-commerce store. Too much time is spent on direct sales and points of contact of the product and we forget that the easiest sale is to convince an existing customer to buy again. A well-built and designed portal provides distributor customers with a special space for accessing personalized information, making purchases and reviewing the history of their orders.
Build long-term relationships with customers and increase loyalty
Eliminate manual effort and scale results
Effectively enrich the customer experience
Accelerate the sales cycle and increase revenue
Generate more sales by making the process easier
Create digital self-service for today's buyers
Nowadays, it is very important for businesses to build long-term relationships with consumers. Today, for the development of companies, it is necessary to gradually increase the LTV of their customers, because after all - it is more expensive to reach new customers than to keep existing ones.