It can be overwhelming to think about the myriad of challenges that running a business presents. One of the more mystifying of those challenges is how to support your B2C customers equally as effectively as your B2B customers. There are so many variables to consider, and even the most seasoned Customer Service Representatives will find it hard to prioritize and execute tasks for a growing list of demanding customers. Having a single system with the capacity to seamlessly do both would a huge advantage, especially if that system gave customers autonomy to take care of their own needs on their own time.
Enter NetSuite with SuiteCommerce, an ERP system that gives your customers control over the entire order management and fulfillment process via a powerful modern e-commerce platform that is completely internal.
Of course, your business is complicated: possibly with many customer bases, multiple catalogs of products, several price levels, complex fulfillment requirements, and perhaps even a few business divisions…but don’t let that slow you down. The right toolset can support these business processes as well as offer a portal to the web.
The world’s buying power has shifted to online retail, and along with that shift, a need for customer engagement and management of all things business. Your customers are just as eager to self-serve, as you are to offer that option. Let’s take a look at how you can support these customers’ unique needs.
Direct to Consumer: The Retail Customer
Retail customers can be tricky, for a number of reasons…you don’t have a close relationship with them like you do with your B2B customers, it can be difficult to promote them to make repeat buys and the amount they purchase is oftentimes much less than a wholesale order. But these customers can be won in larger numbers with smart outreach and strong customer experience. The total volume of retail customers can make a significant impact on your bottom line.
What you need to know, is that you cannot possibly respond to this customer base generically due to the size and variety of the users. Rather you should allow them to make their own requests and decisions…just be ready to provide the opportunity. An example of this is the high-level categorization of products versus navigation that is filtered via the user’s selection of attributes, what SuiteCommerce calls “facets”. You should provide the high-level categorization, mostly for marketing purposes, but more importantly provide users a strong set of attributes that they can use to quickly find the products they are looking for. For instance, shopping for “Sweaters” only takes you so far, and a user could get bored or overwhelmed by a large number of options, potentially leaving before putting something in their cart. However, if you make it easy to shop for “Red Men’s Sweaters in Size Medium made from 100% cotton”, you instantly start to get users invested – this is exactly what they are looking for and the stuff that sales conversion dreams are made of.
SuiteCommerce as an e-commerce platform is uniquely positioned to easily make details like these item attributes accessible to users, and maintainable by ERP admins. You can’t possibly overstate how important this is to a business of any size – it is what makes SuiteCommerce so effective and what sets it apart. But a strong customer experience doesn’t start and end with the B2C customer.
Wholesalers and Distributors: A Totally Different Relationship
Wholesalers and distributors are customers that you know well. You have likely vetted them prior to doing business with them, possibly worked on special pricing or fulfillment rules with them, and they have the buying power to order in significantly higher quantities than your retail customer.
As such, you have a more complicated relationship, and you begin to rely on each other for even the simplest tasks: seeing an open invoice or paying that invoice, changing a phone number or updating an address, or even request a quote for special order. All of this back and forth can be time-consuming for a Customer Service Rep who also has a retail customer asking for return authorization for an item in their shipment.
Now the close and deep relationship of the ERP system and the e-commerce platform can take on a completely new and valuable role, where the B2B customer can self-serve and feel great about it. As SuiteCommerce is built into NetSuite, it not only makes item record maintenance easy but also transaction and customer record administration. Small tasks can be natively supported by SuiteCommerce, so the B2B customer can not only shop with great user experience like a B2C user can, but they can also log into the My Account area and easily pay an invoice or print a statement for a specified period of time. The B2B customer doesn’t need to wait for a Customer Service Rep to take their call, or even make a request for a quote during business hours, they are empowered to do business at their own speed and on their own time. Add to that the fact that SuiteCommerce is built on a platform that provides a mobile-friendly set of templates, and your most demanding B2B customers now find themselves able to approve a quote for a container of goods from their phone or tablet from anywhere – what could make a business owner happier?
In general, providing a platform to support B2B customers creates a huge opportunity for efficiency for both the customer as well as your internal support staff.
What Else to Consider?
The traditional B2C and B2B model is being challenged more and more as the world becomes smaller and online tools become more established. Now of course, in the face of a pandemic, your customers are even further reliant on a strong digital set of capabilities. We are no longer guaranteed to have a physical interface with our customers during annual conferences or routine visits to suppliers, and therefore need to rely more heavily on being able to do business online. Your average B2C customer is also more likely to look to e-commerce for purchase opportunities due to an inability to get to a brick and mortar retail location to shop.
Companies that are already set up with cloud ERP, CRM, and accounting systems have taken the first step towards making this new type of business appealing and simple. Using NetSuite to further extend this style of business administration to offer deep and effective online transactions via SuiteCommerce will catapult a business of any size into a more adaptive and nimble organization, capable of weathering public health crisis, economic fluctuation and unknown factors brought on by the digital age.