Wholesalers and manufacturers may be buying in bulk for business purposes, but these days the individuals actually placing the orders are accustomed to being able to shop easily online. They rightly feel that they shouldn’t have to pick up a phone, fill out a tedious order form, or even use an antiquated fax machine simply to do their job as a purchasing agent. Instead, they expect to have a modern e-commerce experience whether they are buying for business or personal use. Organizations that want to become a preferred vendor for these customers would do well to explore an updated web-based ordering system.
Here are some key features that make online ordering simple and attractive for bulk buyers.
Faster, Better Service
At the most basic level, an online ordering system should eliminate duplicate data entry efforts, reduce errors, and process orders immediately. Less frustration leads to more brand loyalty and repeat business. You will also find that most customers enjoy a self-service experience even after the order is placed. They want to be able to track shipments and view their order history easily online. If they can repeat a previous order with just a couple of clicks, that’s even better!
That doesn’t mean the human touch is taken out of the equation. Instead, a modern system can incorporate live chat so that those customers who do have questions or challenges can get immediate assistance. When inbound sales teams are freed up from answering phones as order takers, they are more available to improve the service experience for customers who need help.
Targeted Product Catalogues
If you serve multiple industries, not every customer should see your entire product line. In fact, users will appreciate being presented only with relevant items when they go online to search for what they need. With a well-designed, segmented e-commerce solution, you can determine the items clients see when they log in to their account. For example, bulk packaged quantities can be presented to wholesale clients and hidden from retail clients. Of course, this means you can also set up special pricing and other private “eyes only” information for your top tier customers as well. When you are in charge of the online ordering experience, you can design it for maximum impact.
Accurate, Visible Inventory Numbers
This is a critical aspect of a good online ordering system. Lead time is one of the most common factors that determines who gets an order from a major customer. A wholesaler may need to deliver to retailers right away to capture seasonal sales. Or, a manufacturer might have to shut down a production line if they can’t get a part in a timely fashion. Providing information about which items are in stock (along with the quantity available) helps procurement specialists make a quick decision.
Be warned, this data has to be very accurate! Just one bad experience with finding out an item is on backorder when your website indicated it was in stock can turn off a customer. This means you need to integrate in real time with your existing ERP or inventory management system to ensure that your website never makes promises your warehouse can’t fulfill. As a bonus, implementing an integrated online ordering system may actually serve as an opportunity to help you scale to handle higher volume clients.
Multiple Payment Options
While some businesses have a dedicated credit card for online purchases, many still use a purchase order system. In fact, these Net 30 clients could be some of your largest accounts. You’ll want to be sure to accommodate them by accepting PO#s from your customers.
More Incentives to Buy
When you know which items your customers are buying, you can predict what they will want to try in the future. This means you can actually leverage the information captured by your online ordering system to promote new products as they become available. Rather than sending out a costly paper catalogue that will probably end up in the trash, you can present relevant items to your repeat customers using a variety of digital marketing methods. That might be as simple as featuring a new product with a special introductory price when they log in to their customized ordering portal on your website. This streamlined approach is less annoying for customers and more beneficial for your business.
Want to learn more about how a well-designed online ordering system can maximize high-dollar customer relationships with wholesalers and manufacturers? Contact WebRevelation today.