When you tell people you occasionally work away they think it’s a treat – the casual onlooker may think staying in hotels sounds like good fun but when you are on the road regularly working away it really can get tedious. Once you’ve had your meetings the highlight of the trip is the journey home and stopping off at a service station for a snack before getting home for a warm dinner. Service station snacks never used to be synonymous with good food but with the advent of quality food outlets like M&S you can now look forward to a nice prawn sandwich to tide you over for that last 100 miles of the journey. Marks and Spencer has stood the test of time, they’ve had up ups and downs like all retailers but they’ve managed to retain their customers generation after generation and I never quite knew their secret.
That was until recently when I went to get the staple prawn sandwich only to see sitting beside it winking at me ‘Our best ever prawn sandwich.’ How could M&S improve on their best seller that even Margaret Thatcher once called ‘delicious’? They’ve only gone and done it – the prawns are bigger, the bread is thicker and the sauce has been upgraded to a little taste of heaven. An already great product has been improved and is likely to become a best seller for the next 30 years keeping Marks and Spencer ahead of the competition and retaining the number slot for that sandwich we all reach for.
Back in the office telling the team about this sandwich, I realised how the Netalogue enterprise B2B ecommerce platform draws many parallels with the M&S approach. Netalogue has the ‘best B2B ecommerce features’ and are always improving these by giving customers a new release every 3 months. This is certainly a bit more frequent than M&S have to revise their prawn sandwich recipe, but this is testament to the fast-moving nature of B2B ecommerce and how important it is to keep innovating in this sector.
Whilst the staple features of the platform might be taken for granted, there have been many exciting changes and new features in some of those releases. There are too many to list but, if asked what are the 5 best b2b ecommerce features, I would say they are :
1) The Responsive Template
Previously, people would sit at their desks to place business orders. Times have evolved and as such people have altered the way they buy. Whilst desktop only sites still serve a purpose for staff who are generally office bound, the Netalogue B2B platform has a responsive template which is designed to respond to the device the person is using to do their purchasing, whether in or out of the office or on the move.
This ensures the customer always gets the best purchasing experience. At the end of the day, the success of a B2B system is heavily dependent on how quick and easy it is to place an order.
This is certainly one of the best B2B ecommerce features to help convert your customers to online ordering, especially true at a time when every customer is watching their spend and looking to get the maximum value from their suppliers.
Previously promotions were just considered to be the usual type of offer you would see in store, such as the simple buy one get one free, three for the price of two, or a percentage off. However, Netalogue’s ecommerce promotions engine now remembers what people have purchased over a number of weeks and can offer a reward at the end of a period.
Through analysing accumulated spend, it can display a countdown to promote a limited offer and it can even suggest reward items based on what is being purchased.
This is good news for Netalogue customers as it allows them to offer sophisticated incentives to purchase the promoted items, whilst giving their customer a good deal.
3) Sales Order Processing
Back in the day, businesses would have multiple systems driving sales, with reps out on the road striking deals that nobody in the office had any knowledge of. Nothing would be joined up and internal systems would often struggle to handle the specific deal structure or special offer that the rep had agreed.
Currently one of the most popular B2B ecommerce features for a Netalogue customer is the telesales feature. This compensates for the limitations within ERP systems and allows unification of all sales channels, including the ability for offline customers ordering by phone to access some of the sophisticated promotions that have until now only been available online.
Sales representatives no longer have to fax, email or phone back to the office, instead they can log in and add items to basket, apply discounts and process the orders via their iPad or laptop.
On the latest platform release, this has been further enhanced so that reps can only see the accounts that they are managing. Third party agents and brand reps can be configured to sell limited products to agreed customers and a single order can be placed across multiple accounts or locations with a single click.
Whilst this sort of functionality is not typically thought of as being anything to do with B2B ecommerce, it is clear how B2B ecommerce is now setting the standard for forward thinking organisations who are increasingly employing more sophisticated selling techniques than their internal systems cater for, so that they can increase market share, revenue and profit.
Gone are the days of one size fits all, when you have the benefit of knowing which customer is logging in, you need to capitalise on that and personalise the experience.
Personalisation can come in many forms, but in order to maximise your sales you need to ensure everything is as relevant as possible to the customer. Starting with a personalised welcome back screen with the customer’s logo, you can now go a lot further, including:
- Bespoke catalogue views which only show the products they want their staff to be able to buy.
- Banners and news items targeted at their particular business type or even their specific business.
- Offers that only contain the products relevant to them, or even displaying your customers own product descriptions and product codes against your items to make it easier for them to find what they need.
5) Self Service
Not so long ago, businesses would feel like they had succeeded in delivering their online strategy by offering customers the ability to order online. With the advent of omnichannel, customers want to decide which sales channel they would like to use to transact with you and then expect to be able to manage every aspect of their relationship with you via that channel.
For customers choosing to transact online, this meant that the bar was suddenly raised. Ecommerce was no longer just about selling online, you had to do business online. This was a different concept for many businesses and they had to rethink those strategies. Fortunately for Netalogue, we had lots of customers upgrading to our B2B platform. This, in addition to improving the online purchasing experience, would allow them to also:
- View offline orders.
- View copy invoices
- Obtain a live account statement
- Process returns
- Pay outstanding invoices 24/7
- Download product imagery
- Build product data feeds to drive their own websites
Choose Netalogue as Your B2B Ecommerce Solution
The Netalogue B2B ecommerce platform is refined and improved through a rigorous and continual R&D process, and each quarter improvements and new features are made available to all customers that wish to take an upgrade. That’s the secret of being one of the UK’s best B2B ecommerce platforms.
We listen to the customers, move with the times that are forever changing, and ensure we are at the forefront of digital business. The only difference between us and the M&S sandwich is that you don’t have to choose between one or the other, you will always get the very best.