As a business-to-business seller, you want to make it as easy as possible for corporate buyers to purchase your goods. Providing a simple, easy-to-use interface is going to take away one of the potential barriers between your business and another sale. Of course, you are still going to have to offer quality products and fair prices, but a clean interface can go a long way toward separating you from the competition.
Since most business today is conducted over the web, it is important that you set up a platform which is easy to use for corporate purchasing agents. With a confusing or poorly designed site, you are sure to have negative consequences. At the least, you stand to receive phone calls to answer questions based on problems encountered on the site. In the worst case, your potential customer will give up and purchase from another supplier instead. Either way, you need to solve the problem by presenting all buyers with a website which is organized, functional, and reliable.
So, what should you be included in your website to reach those goals? The points below are a good place to start.
A Simple Design
Designing a website to be used for the purpose of corporate purchasing is not the same as designing a site for retail. You don’t need to impress your visitors with fancy graphics or unique features – you just need the site to work. Those using the site are likely quite busy, and they want to simply be able to place their order and move on. Less is more when it comes to designing the corporate purchasing segment of your website.
Even the best websites aren’t going to be able to answer all questions your customer may have about your products or prices. For that reason, make sure your website includes plenty of opportunities for the customer to contact your business. Of course, these contact channels should be monitored regularly to make sure the customer receives a timely reply. You don’t want that business to walk into the arms of your competition because you failed to answer questions promptly. When setup correctly, your website can be a great tool for both sales and communication with your customers.
Establish a PunchOut Catalog
One of the best things you can do for the efficiency of your site is to include the availability of a PunchOut catalog. A PunchOut catalog is a buying interface which opens directly within the procurement application being used by your customer. By accessing your catalog of products within their own software, the buyer can save time by having purchase data load into their platform without having to do any manual transfer.
PunchOut catalogs can be designed to work with many of the top procurement applications on the market today. By finding out which applications are used by some of your high-volume buyers, you can tailor your catalog to meet their needs. If you are offering a PunchOut catalog and your competition is not, that subtle difference could be the deciding factor in who wins market share.
Reliable Behind the Scenes
From a technical perspective, your website should be as solid as possible behind the scenes. You want to work with a trusted web host, and you want to have systems in place to backup your data on a regular basis. Having your website down for an extended period of time could be extremely costly, both in terms of missed sales and it declined customer satisfaction. It’s great to build a website which looks nice and has plenty of functions, but that site won’t do anyone any good if it is down on a regular basis.
It is important to remember that your website is an extension of your company itself. You should be proud of the site you put on the web, as it is going to act as your ‘front door’ in many ways. When customers find a reliable, fast-loading site, they are going to take you seriously as a trusted supplier. On the other hand, a messy, slow site will tell your buyers that you don’t value their business. Of course, that is not a message that you ever want to send.
The exact design and functionality of your corporate purchasing website is going to depend on the product and buyers in question. However, the tips above should point you in the right direction. Once your site is in place, make sure all of your regular customers know that it can be used for their ordering needs.
Jeremy Friedman started his professional career in web development in 1997, working on some of the earliest web-based software frameworks ever released to developers. He helped start Greenwing Technology in 2009 to serve the small to medium size suppliers that need help integrating with the major procurement software providers.