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    5 Ways to Better Automate Your B2B eCommerce

    5 Ways to Better Automate Your B2B eCommerce

    Chances are your B2B buyers already know what they need, so what matters as you incorporate eCommerce is how you automate your B2B eCommerce site to serve your buyers—and potential buyers—specifically. Gone are the days when B2B marketing exclusively used physical, hard-copy catalogs and collateral direct mail from brick-and-mortar stores.

    RELATED: The Basics of eCommerce

    B2B customers now demand the same functionality and experience, built over different stages of the customer journey, as B2C customers. (Although some, including the eCommerce platform Shopify, argue that “the online experience for wholesale eCommerce websites should be as minimal as possible. Buyers want products that perform.” They have purchase orders to fill and way to do it seamlessly, with minimal hiccups.

    Creating a smart and streamlined eCommerce workflow allows for easy scalability and sets you up for success in the long run.

    Although you can find multiple topics on B2B eCommerce online, in this post we’re keeping it tight and speaking to a handful of things we think can help you automate your B2B eCommerce efforts. Consider these five tactical ways to automate:

    1. Create a pricing structure for bulk buying 
    2. Automate recurring orders (bannersolutions.com)
    3. Embrace chatbots/chat features on website 
    4. Automate emails for order status updates, new products, general email marketing, etc. 
    5. Use platforms with the best automation 

    Understand Why Your B2B eCommerce Needs Automation

    If you only glanced over our five areas because you need convincing that B2B eCommerce is a thing, let’s back up and speak to that topic. You know what’s coming: The data-based support for action.

    According to Oracle, the world’s largest database management company, eCommerce automation is a time saver, by programming repetitive labor-intensive tasks.

    Automation is a tool to work more efficiently, collaborate more effectively, and engage with customers better. Oracle’s data, although it highlights all eCommerce, shows eCommerce engagement as important to businesses for the following reasons:

    • 35% want to streamline marketing and sales efforts 
    • 34% want to improve customer engagement 
    • 34% want to improve the customer experience (CX)
    • 30% want to minimize manual tasks 
    • 28% want to increase the number of leads captured

    Source: Oracle

    And B2B eCommerce is expanding in the U.S., according to a Statistica report from March 2024, which highlights the following:

    • B2B eCommerce in the U.S. is valued at $4.2 T (that’s a big T, as in trillion)
    • eCommerce share of total B2B sales in the U.S. is 14%

    You may not have needed much convincing, but if you want more, email or call us to start a conversation. We specialize in B2B.

    Let’s get on with our five features we think can help you automate your B2B eCommerce efforts.

    Create a Pricing Structure for Bulk Buying 

    You’re probably familiar with how to do this in general, so for eCommerce you need to add in the component of online purchasing and product storage and shipping. You’ll still address fixed and variable costs, willingness of end users to buy your products, competition, market position (and where you WANT to be) and the distinct nature of your products and their availability/scarcity.  B2B eCommerce isn’t like buying a dog sweater and treats from Chewy. It usually involves large number of products purchased frequently.

    Creating an effective process for buying in bulk is one of the best ways to automate your eCommerce strategy.

    Because we’re fans of Shopify as a platform, we trust you can learn more from Shopify’s wholesale eCommerce advice.

    Automate Recurring Orders

    Remember the suggestion that B2B eCommerce users want to fill orders and do it seamlessly without a lot of a fuss? If that’s true for your B2B eCommerce customers, then automating recurring orders is a gift.

    Customers want to be able to order the products they need a quick and conveniently as possible.

    Within your eCommerce web-cart, instill an option that allows users to order products and then select the order to be repeated on a recurrent basis. For those customers who want seamless ordering of the same products, this is a must. After the first order, subsequent orders are created and processed automatically, using the same product quantity, price, shipping address and payment method as in the recurring order created initially. Again, this is common with B2C eCommerce (Chewy!), but it should be a staple in B2B eCommerce as well.

    Embrace Chatbots/Chat Features on Website 

    According to IBM, whose Watson Assistant is a popular and recognized artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot framework, chatbot use can help reduce customer service costs by more than 30%.

     Savings in the customer service space comes, in part, because good chatbot technology can satisfactorily answer between 80 and 90% of commonly asked questions. See more in our blog,

    Creative Marketing Strategies for a World of Automation

    Chatbots can qualify leads, provide customer service and automate tasks such as managing service calls and giving quotes, leaving plenty of human time to deal with the more complex customer interactions. The key is to keep the chat function conversational, which has greater possibility with an AI-based chatbot system, which tend to be more sophisticated.  But command-based chats know their job, and it involves these elements:

    • Developers create scripts and pre-written responses (as opposed to coming up with new texts) for the bots to ask.
    • Chatbots start with a question (avoid anything too cutesy) and continue by direct commands.
    • Chatbots understand the users written text to interpret what the user wants and to answer a question, the chatbot matches it to a database of created replies (why we love those FAQs).
    • If well-programmed, they’re dutiful and grammatically correct (always a win, as it cuts down on fuzzy language-use).
    • Chatbots can’t answer oddly phrased or atypical questions, but they can be programmed to redirect users to humans, if their database of replies is tapped out, or the question is atypical or too complex.
    A smart chatbot on your website can greatly expedite and improve your customer service efforts.

    Automate Emails for Order Status Updates, New Products, General Email Marketing, etc. 

    You’re probably already doing this on some email platform, but know that it matters with B2B eCommerce automation. As B2B customers often have bigger budgets and are likely to repurchase, an automated email system to remind them of important quantities and dates can be helpful.

    Also, because B2B customers often take longer to research potential purchases and purchases often need to be approved by multiple people (read long multi-step process), automated emails can offer guidance and keep steps along the process. (Think of it as ways to speak to efficiency, expertise and ROI, or anything that makes their workflow easier.)

    Automated email workflows ensures that your brand and platform are constantly top-of-mind.

    Use Platforms With the Best Automation 

    Deciding on an eCommerce platform with automation features doesn’t need to be cumbersome. For details on the best platforms, read our blog, Best Platforms for eCommerce. And because we’re B2B experts, you can consider that the best platforms for B2B eCommerce.

    RELATED: Top Platforms for ECommerce

    Future Topics to Tackle

    We promised to keep it tight here, but in future posts, we address hot topics of browser abandonment recovery, abandoned cart recovery, additional post-purchase communication (beyond emails), and how to avoid Including inactive contacts in the workflow.

    Or, if you’d like information on those issues today, email or contact us to start a conversation.


    FAQs

    Why is automation important for B2B eCommerce?

    Automation is crucial because it saves time by handling repetitive tasks, enhances efficiency, collaboration, customer engagement, and improves the overall customer experience.

    How did the pandemic influenced B2B eCommerce?

    The pandemic accelerated the shift to online transactions, leading to higher expectations for intuitive websites and valuable digital promotion in B2B eCommerce.

    What are some ways to automate B2B eCommerce?

    Tactical ways include creating a pricing structure for bulk buying, automating recurring orders, utilizing chatbots, automating email communications, and choosing platforms with strong automation features.

    How do B2B and B2C eCommerce experiences differ?

    B2B eCommerce focuses on bulk buying and seamless, efficient ordering processes, often with less emphasis on the online experience compared to B2C, which focuses more on individual consumer engagement.

    What role do chatbots play in B2B eCommerce?

    Chatbots can significantly reduce customer service costs by answering common questions and automating tasks like service calls and quotes, improving efficiency.

    Why automate email communications in B2B eCommerce?

    Automated emails keep your brand top-of-mind, guide B2B customers through their longer research and approval processes, and remind them of important dates and quantities.

    What factors should be considered when creating a pricing structure for bulk buying in B2B eCommerce?

    Considerations include fixed and variable costs, market competition, product uniqueness, and ensuring the process is effective for large-scale purchases.

    How can automating recurring orders benefit B2B customers?

    It provides convenience by allowing customers to quickly and easily reorder products, ensuring a seamless process for recurring needs.

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    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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