Many B2B businesses are already experiencing a post-pandemic surge. Certainly the revenue growth is welcome, but it can bring challenges as well. Here is a checklist to prepare for pent-up demand.
Communicate out-of-stocks. Supply chains have not stabilized. Some manufacturers are reverting to domestic suppliers for consistency and reliability.
Surprising a customer with delayed or canceled orders due to out-of-stocks damages the relationship. To overcome:
- Communicate when an item will be available rather than simply displaying “out of stock.” This sets expectations and helps capture orders from buyers that might look elsewhere.
- Allow visitors to enter an email address to be automatically notified when the item is back in stock.
- Consider offering an alternative product in stock.
- Direct customers to another website where they can buy the product. It builds trust and credibility.
Streamline customer service. Errors happen when a customer service team does not have the information they need or is otherwise inexperienced or overworked. Extended wait times and lack of answers frustrate buyers.
An ecommerce platform can be a terrific customer service tool, lessening the reliance on reps. Modern platforms:
- Integrate sales with fulfillment. Glitches occur when the orders are not digital, such as a salesperson taking orders over the phone, writing orders on paper, or even receiving faxes. Manual ordering introduces errors.
- Notify customers of partially filled orders.
- Support customer service teams who use the website to answer questions and retrieve info quickly. Many manufacturers and distributors find that their site is easier to navigate than internal systems! Customer service personnel can share links with buyers and follow up with resources such as data sheets and safety specs.
Provide self-service ordering. Relying solely on B2B salespeople to process orders creates bottlenecks and missed opportunities. Salespeople shouldn’t be doing things that customers could do on their own. A good B2B ecommerce site will:
- Facilitate self-service ordering. Smaller, simpler, and repeat orders don’t typically require personal interaction.
- Reduce human involvement. For example, software that configures prices enables customers to build their own quotes for a salesperson to review or respond.
Prepare for digital-first B2B. It’s easy to overlook strategic planning. The future of B2B commerce is digital, as Covid-19 has painfully demonstrated. Prepare now for the post-pandemic surge and beyond. Ask yourself:
- How does the digital transformation impact my business?
- Which digital features would add value to our customers?
- How could digital tools strengthen my company’s competitive position and reduce obstacles and threats?
A digital foundation is critical for B2B growth and to test and improve sales and customer service. It enables your company to thrive in the immediate surge and after.