Here are our top automation tips for business to business (B2B) ecommerce companies that will help you sell more to your customers, anywhere at any time.  

Having teams available to meet your customers’ needs around the clock isn’t always possible. Ecommerce automation can be the answer, allowing you to provide excellent customer service efficiently and effectively. 

According to Mckinsey, B2B digital leaders have five times more revenue growth than their competitors. Harnessing the power of automation as part of your plans for B2B ecommerce growth will help you to become a market leader. 

How B2B ecommerce automation can help 

B2B businesses with increasing order volumes, inventory management issues, and ever-higher customer service expectations can create pain points for their buyers that affect sales and retention rates. 

When you’re using multiple systems to manage your marketing, sales, order processing, and shipping functions, data is often duplicated.  Sometimes information is difficult to find, and it can become out of date. As a result, customers receive inaccurate inventory levels, their orders can go missing, and their deliveries might not arrive on time. 

With business systems integration, data transfer between systems can be automated to maintain accuracy and consistency. When your business operations are based on a single source of truth your operations will be more efficient.  

 Advances in technology like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are allowing businesses to streamline, simplify, and automate processes, allowing their professionals and experts to add more value for customers.  

What is ecommerce automation? 

Technology-based automation solutions can help businesses grow sales and increase productivity. Automating repetitive ecommerce processes can reduce order costs, re-focus staff priorities, and deliver personalized customer experiences. 

Typically, these automations are configured and customized to: 

  • be triggered by specific events  
  • deliver defined responses 
  • complete actions without human intervention. 

This can streamline what happens between the time your customer places their order and when it is delivered, along with follow-up enquiries and actions to improve customer satisfaction. 

How to implement ecommerce automation – our top eight tips 

Not every part of your B2B ecommerce operation can be automated. Here are some tips to help you achieve the greatest benefits. 

  1. Identify automation opportunities

    – much of ecommerce is process-driven so there are plenty of possible opportunities to benefit from automation. Where the activities are time consuming, repetitive, and include manual data entry you can quickly realize benefits through automation. Maintaining product information, accurate pricing, payment handling, order processing and tracking, and inventory management all meet these criteria. 

  2. Look for best-fit solutions – while every business is unique many of the processes, when analysed, are similar. You could find that there are pre-built automation solutions to meet your needs. However, it’s important to take a view of your whole business to optimize the benefits. Carefully considering the potential for business systems integration will be an important part of the process. 
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To help you make your choice, create a list of priorities that you want to achieve. Compare your possible providers with your list to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Ask for case studies and testimonials which will give you reassurance and help you to understand the levels of support and problem-solving each supplier can deliver. 

Your existing system providers might already offer connectors that can integrate with your ecommerce platform which will speed up your process. However, the simplest route might not always be the best, so complete your market comparison before making your choice. 

  1. Understand your data – following up enquiries, orders, and deliveries can be time-consuming. With real-time automation you can free your sales professionals from these tasks and your customers will always be able to access the latest and most accurate information with a simple registration and log-in process. To maintain accuracy, you can include automatic audit trails, logs, and data flows for every transaction to confirm that your information is complete and secure. 

  1. Plan interventions –no matter how good your systems, there’s always the possibility that a problem will arise. To maintain high standards of customer service, assess as many possible problems as you can and agree a ‘play book’ of interventions that will convince your customers that you are on top of the process. This can include adding value by empowering your sales and customer service teams to use their own initiative to solve certain types of problem. 

  1. Workout your workflows you can lose customers before they have even placed an order if your registration process is difficult or slow. While you might want to know a lot about your customers the point where they register for their first purchase isn’t the place to capture this information. You will need to think carefully about the minimum information you need to fulfil the order. You can follow-up with a customer service email or call and ask for more information once their order has been delivered. 

Simple transactions might only require an email and password before moving on to the payment process. For larger and more complex orders several approvals could be needed from different stakeholders. Onboarding workflows need to be both compliant and flexible. 

  1. Makeyour checkout transparent - abandonment rates in 2021 are estimated to be over 80% so anything you can do to improve the checkout process is likely to reward you with increased sales. The most common concerns are additional costs that haven’t previously been shown and a lengthy, slow, and complex processes to create accounts. 

Automating your checkout workflows can speed things up and you can run tests to find out how you can improve your results. Integration with your credit approval process can also improve your cash flow. 

  1. Provide personalized product catalogs – almost eight out of 10 buyers are looking for personally relevant content. Based on their buying history you can offer your customers a personalized product catalog with previously negotiated pricing. If you sell configurable products in different volumes or finishes for example, you can tailor each buyer’s catalog with their own bespoke products and simplify their purchasing journey. 

  1. Streamline your sales - automating your online sales process gives your sales team more time to add value with expert advice, to respond to special requirements, and to address concerns that will help to complete deals. Your automation options can include pre-qualification processes, up-to-the-minute stock records and delivery details, and easy returns. 

The benefits of B2B ecommerce automation 

Up-to-date information on sales and customers will improve decision-making across your organization. The integration that powers automation can include your enterprise (ERP), customer relationship (CRM), and product information (PIM) systems, giving you a complete view of your business in near real time. 

Operations can be streamlined and effectiveness will improve with automated order processing, contract negotiation, and reordering. Your marketers can create, deliver, and test campaigns based on current buying behavior, and respond more quickly to trends and preferences. Customer sales, services and support can all be improved with automated prompts and scripts for personalized messages based on ordering behavior. Most of all, your customers benefit from timely added value services. 

Start your B2B ecommerce automation journey 

Williams Commerce has systems integration expertise for B2B ecommerce platforms with nearly all ERP and back office systems. Our ecommerce services include consultancydesign and buildmarketing, and managed hosting. 

Our experience working with businesses of all sizes, from large corporations to small enterprises, allows us to offer industry leading digital services to meet the needs of your B2B buyers and your business. 

Speak with one of our experts to find out how B2B ecommerce automation could change your company’s future. 

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