In online commerce, the term B2B refers to e-commerce transactions between two businesses. The difference between B2B and B2C transactions arise from the fundamental differences in motivations behind individual customers and businesses.
B2B commerce transactions are driven not by emotions but hard calculations and the ultimate goal of enhancing profits.
They focus on long-term relationships and a keen understanding of the customer’s needs to be able to cater to them in time. Since accounts often usually have multiple operators, there are more factors at play than B2C transactions.
Because of this, B2B and B2C transactions need to be handled separately, ie, on completely different platforms that work on the principles of the respective type of business.
Not only that but the functionalities and tools of the platform must also be optimized according to the four basic types of B2B transactions and activities.
Thus, depending on whether you require sell-side e-commerce, buy-side e-commerce, exchange and marketplace-based e-commerce, or supply chain improvements and collaborative e-commerce, you should be provided with tailored B2B e-commerce solutions.
With such vast distinctions and diversity, most e-commerce service providers will find it difficult to assure the level of flexibility and productivity required in a B2B transaction, meaning most businesses will likely have to depend on a variety of e-commerce products from different sources.
They may require different software solutions for CRM, marketing, e-commerce, and so on. This problem is solved by Salesforce.
With the B2B division of its Commerce Cloud combined with its Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, and other CRM sources, it provides all kinds of data and tools that an online B2B transaction uses from initiation to completion.
What is Salesforce B2B Commerce?
Salesforce B2B Commerce, earlier known as Salesforce Cloudcraze, is a B2B e-commerce software that allows the setup of online storefronts by suppliers that cater to large businesses.
Setting up your B2B e-commerce website can take a lot of time, effort, and resources. But Salesforce has streamlined the process, allowing you to launch your business online within weeks.
Important Salesforce B2B Commerce Features
Any B2B e-commerce platform should be able to handle B2B wholesale transactions, long-term, frequent, and repeated purchases, and flexible pricing and payment options.
Its features should reflect its capability to do the same with maximum reliability and robustness.
Performance is a huge factor in any B2B transaction due to the fact that errors or downtime can result in huge losses.
To that end, Salesforce B2B Commerce has the following features:
- Authenticated sites with visitor-specific logins
- Shopping carts with holding powers of hundreds to thousands of units in a single order for wholesale e-commerce
- Streamlining of big, repeated orders by enabling the same in two clicks
- Customizable themes for your storefront to provide a distinct look to suit each account
- Custom catalogs with exclusive products or subset of products, specific to accounts
- Pricing functionality allowing negotiated or contract cost display segmented by account or customer type
- High level of granularity and control over shipping functions allowing multiple delivery destinations and dates
- Multiple options for payments that include all the major ways how B2B’s large transactions are paid for, ie, purchase orders, ACH, credit cards, etc.
- Saved order history for every user that has been verified
- Search options allowing application of filters
- Tools and templates to design the storefront as well as the order page
- High level of control over the platform based on add-ons, data access, member access, testing, catalog, migrations, etc
With the help of these features, Salesforce makes all types of B2B transactions easier and simpler. We will elaborate on how to boost B2B transactions by taking full advantage of these features in the next section.
How Salesforce B2B Commerce Implements Productivity and Flexibility
A B2B transaction has way more thought and calculation put behind it than a B2C one. This should reflect not just on the buyer side but on the seller side as well. Salesforce helps businesses do that in the following ways:
1. Rapid Test-to-Launch
The clicks-not-codes approach of Salesforce allows a rapid launch of your company’s digital storefront so that you can start the online leg of your business without wasting days on building up the website or application.
You can test changes to the design, products, workflows, or anything in the Sandbox and migrate it easily.
This allows you to adapt to the volatile market as well as the needs of your customers quickly without losing business.
The flexibility also helps when you want to give your online store a makeover and do not want to deal with lost revenue during downtime.
Traditionally, B2B transactions were long-drawn and involved multiple interactions between account members, sales representatives, and the seller. But this is changing.
Salesforce allows you to create a digital store that uses intuitive self-servicing and guided buying processes to allow customers to complete the purchase by themselves.
It provides something close to a B2C experience, but does not totally abandon the customer in the process. This reduces the cost to serve, which can be utilized at other points to boost revenue.
3. Simplified Purchase Process
A purchasing transaction in B2B commerce usually involves a large volume and/or variety of products based on defined requirements of the buyer.
Salesforce makes the process more straightforward with custom catalogs to suit those needs, contract or negotiated pricing, which is the norm in B2B commerce, quick reorders, and hierarchical account management.
This streamlining ensures that the customer returns to you, since they can complete a purchase faster and more easily.
4. Real-time Customer Data Access
The Salesforce Customer 360 Data manager helps you obtain a 360-degree view of your customer and thus mold their entire buying experience to accommodate both their immediate and long-term needs.
Salesforce allows your sales team to get real-time customer information by integrating data from the Sales Cloud, Community Cloud, Service Cloud, Pardot, and Einstein Analytics.
That way, they can implement a fitting B2B e-commerce strategy for the account and make informed decisions as they cater to the customer.
5. Enhanced Customer Experience
Businesses expect a higher level of customization at each step of the buying process, from engagement to follow-up. Salesforce empowers sellers to customize the buying journey for the account.
You can build branded and custom storefronts to aid the customer in their buying process, apply a number of product visualization techniques to suit them, create personalized catalogs and recommendations for easier product decisions, control promotional offers, manage abandoned carts and convert them to successful sales, and allow leaving reviews. It will even handle the SEO to drive organic traffic.
6. Tailored Support Based On Industry
Salesforce facilitates online store building with features based on the industry that the selling business operates in. It is natural that different sectors have different pricing and selling methods.
Salesforce will help you create a storefront with the necessary methods integrated.
You can quickly start with a ready base by choosing the required Salesforce solution, divided by business type, role, need, and industry, and instantly start building upon it to create your brand.
You do not have to waste time on the deeper details. It has all become even easier with Salesforce Quickstart Solutions.
7. Better Catalog Management
Salesforce provides tools to easily control your product catalog. It was already discussed how you could create custom catalogs, but there’s more.
Salesforce makes it easy to update product information and pricing on your e-commerce site as well as configure product options that influence customer choices.
You can also choose to display inventory levels of products in real-time, even location if necessary.
The Search functionality is especially high-powered, allowing pan-site and segmented navigation, filtering and sorting of products based on a variety of features, etc.
There are special functionalities to help in a transaction that increases an unearned revenue, like subscriptions and licenses.
8. Transparent Order Processing
The highly expandable shopping cart allowed by Salesforce is a major reason businesses are drawn to it. You may think this involves a complex checkout process but it does not.
Single-click checkouts, double-click reorders, simplified order summaries, receipts, and self-service or customer care-based returns and refunds give a buying experience as simple as the B2C one without smoothing over important details.
You can provide your buyers the option to make shipping choices according to delivery time or price of products.
Salesforce also integrates the clauses of local laws and regulations when calculating taxes for customers.
A range of payment options are made available so that a customer does not churn based on unavailability of a payment channel.
Moreover, multi-source order fulfilment functionality is also there to prevent product shortage as far as possible.
9. Omnichannel Support
Salesforce allows easy integration of omnichannel support for your customers. Recently, there has been a lot of emphasis on omnichannelization of CRM and it is especially important in B2B commerce.
Salesforce allows you to unify the customer experience from different channels, like desktop, mobile, social media, catalog, POS, and third-party marketplaces, and even has provisions to add a store locator that allows customers to locate the closest physical location by GPS, city, or postal code.
The same goes for customer service, where your team can provide a seamless experience to your customers across a number of channels like phone and chat.
10. Easy Third-Party Integration
Salesforce allows third-party integration both ways, so you can combine the best of Salesforce with external resources to create a perfectly designed solution.
APIs, apps, and add-ons from any compatible source will work with proper integration. You can also utilize solutions from the Salesforce AppExchange hub for your online store.
This high level of freedom allows users of Salesforce to customize their B2B e-commerce site exactly as they require to boost site flexibility and productivity.
Improving Your Current B2B E-commerce Store
All the above features are not limited to those building their B2B e-commerce store at the moment or improving an existing one.
Even if you are considering replatforming to Salesforce, all of these advantages would apply to you equally.
One of the reasons Salesforce is regarded as the best B2B e-commerce platform is because of the flexibility it provides.
In the B2B world, flexibility, along with reliable performance, automatically translates to higher productivity.
With the right help and guidance, Salesforce B2B Commerce can become your most powerful ally in taking and maintaining your business online.