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A digital customer portal for B2B is the right investment in 2021

A digital customer portal is the primary platform for strengthening the increasingly digitalized customer relationship. A portal will make the job of your customers easier while lowering overhead costs and improving the efficiency of your (and your customers’!) processes.

55% of e-commerce leaders invest in digital customer portals

A survey (conducted by Copperberg) of 125 e-commerce leaders in manufacturing showed that 55% of the respondents will invest in a digital customer portal in the next 12 months. A customer portal allows customers to “… take care of their company and account data themselves, without calling their sales agents for every adjustment. [...] For large organizations, the key to digital self-service lies in providing the information infrastructure.”

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In a customer portal, users can oversee and manage their installed base, purchase spare parts or consumables, book services or individualized training. A personalized experience puts them at ease, and in an attractive, clear, and accessible manner they benefit from an optimized buyer journey.

A digital customer portal is the next step of digital commerce, a level-up of your basic B2B online shop. What can such a customer portal actually do better than a basic online shop?

Increase customer satisfaction and retention

To provide the right information to the right customer at precisely the right time, will make the jobs of B2B buyers easier. It will boost customer satisfaction and retention. Services play an important role in driving customer satisfaction, but the buying experience is yet more important. The majority of B2B buyers are (or will be soon) digital natives. They expect the same service experience and usability they are accustomed to as B2C consumers. Examples: they shop on Amazon, receive personalized recommendations on Netflix and Spotify and manage their insurance policies via service portals. B2B personalization, however, is working  differently.

More revenue with higher gross margins

A digital customer portal will almost automatically lead you to collect many customer data, e.g. their buying history. This helps you to create personalized and perfectly timed extra offers. You can tailor cross-selling and up-selling offers (like consumables, services and add-on insurance) to introduce existing customers to new products and services. These offers are particularly effective if they offer specific added value for your customers and have high margins. 

Take pressure off your sales staff

Communicating with customers is cost-inefficient. And think about all the travelling time! A customer portal helps sales and support teams to communicate more efficiently. For example, a portal can automate some of the repetitive tasks (for routine orders, re-orders, commodity orders that do not require a lot of consultation, order tracking, frequently asked questions). This frees up human capital. A digital customer portal helps your customers and at the same time reduces the cost per contact.

Enable constant innovation

Do you know what your customers want in 3 or 5 years? A B2B commerce platform with an API-oriented architecture enables constant customer centricity. Pre-integrated applications are a must to easily connect best-of-breed apps that offer the latest technological finesse. It goes without saying that such a platform can be seamlessly integrated into all relevant systems and business processes, such as ERP, PIM, OMS or CRM solutions.

Lighten the load on the IT team

A customer portal is a presentation shell on top of all kinds of enterprise-wide services. It streamlines orders from your commerce system or from other (offline) sources, IoT data from machines and installed base systems, financial data out of ERP and billing systems, tracking data out of supply chain systems etc.

As the platform can be used to support your online shops in all regions, each can have their local focus, not just in terms of currency. To support your company’s growth ambitions, the technology must be cloud-based to make easy scaling possible - in terms of traffic, products, regions and much more.

Do you want to know more about the value of a digital customer portal?  Download our whitepaper and find all the answers!

Download: The value of a digital customer portal from a business perspective