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What sets a digital company apart from a traditional one? In a digitally transformed business, information technology is no longer limited to a supporting role—it is central to the evolution of the business model and associated business processes. New digital models and processes open up new sources of revenue and new competitive strengths. Digital services can be added to the existing portfolio and information and data become strategic assets.

One of the first effects of digitization is to remove some of the traditional distinctions between small, medium, and large enterprises. The digital world is not only a great leveler, it is also surprisingly easy to enter—the cost of admission being offset by the resulting utility and benefits. Thanks to recent advances in cloud-based and B2B commerce technologies, it is now possible for mid-sized companies to use the same set of tools as larger corporations.

This new potential also enables companies to build a customer service system that is ready for future challenges, i.e., one which uses digital offerings to deliver more value to customers and meet their demand for greater autonomy. Today, buyers can choose between one-on-one service and maximum efficiency. With information now available instantly from any computer or mobile device, digital content is rapidly replacing personal communication as the most important component in modern customer service.

Digital customer service is therefore a genuine requirement and now an integral part of an effective service strategy. Today’s customers expect unlimited access to information, an immediate response to every service request, and the ability to perform all transactions unassisted. This is particularly important in the wholesale industry, where buyers expect sellers not only to supply goods but also to provide additional value-added services.

The telephone—formerly the principal channel for customer service—has been replaced by online service portals with their 24/7 availability. All services are bundled at a single location along with a wide range of information resources. Powerful and deeply integrated, the service portal is now the central hub for all core processes around the digital customer service platform.

Depending on the specific requirements and orientation of the business, a service portal offers enormous potential for efficient and scalable implementation of various processes:

  • Customer-specific catalogs
  • Detailed and relevant product information
  • Cross- and up-selling opportunities
  • Quotation management and project management
  • Management of cost centers, projects, and approval processes
  • Service and product configuration
  • Cross-channel order management
  • Order and transaction history
  • Open items, billing history, and payment history
  • Downloading of electronic documents, e.g., invoices
  • Customized services available to order
  • Management of auto-replenishment rules
  • Returns management
  • E-learning portals and online academies, user manuals, technical documentation
  • Marketing and sales documents available to order/download
  • Value-added services, e.g., product updates, maintenance, and repair
  • E-services for electronic catalogs and EDI/OCI integrations
  • Digital customer services, e.g., FAQs, chat, and ticket systems
  • Analysis and evaluation, e.g., by product, product group, project, or cost center

A B2B e-commerce solution is the ideal platform for an online service portal and for delivering digital customer service. It offers a harmonized view of individual customers across all locations and systems, merging customer, transaction, and product data with service offerings to provide a consistent package of information and services. By automating the relevant processes, it is possible to improve the speed and efficiency with which services are delivered to customers and achieve a long-term increase in operating margin.

Read more about Intershop's role in your digital transformation: