This post is the third in a series where I handle common mistakes of B2B ecommerce merchants. It follows from my 10 years of consulting with B2B companies worldwide, including the setup of new B2B sites and optimizing existing B2B sites.
The first post dealt with B2B errors for catalog management and pricing. The following reviewed mistakes with user management and customer support. With this setup, I will discuss mistakes related to shopping carts, checkout, and order management.
B2B Mistakes: Shopping Carts, Order Management
Single thing punch back. Many B2B sites allow only 1 product to be punched back to the customer’s procurement environment in contrast to the entire shopping cart. This is a considerable limitation. It makes the buying process awkward. The merchant ends up losing business.
One cart each vendor. B2B sites often sell products from several suppliers. Some websites require another cart for goods from each vendor. This, again, makes buying inefficient.
No saved carts. B2B orders frequently undergo a lengthy process. Buyers frequently use saved carts to produce groups of potential orders. Cases are saved carts for office supplies and cafeteria utensils. B2B websites that don’t offer saved-cart functionality can lose customers.
Allowing shared carts. Often an institution will share a B2B shopping cart wherein all users from this institution will have one login to add and remove products. Merchants often allow shared carts, which is a mistake. Shared carts expedite the observation of sequence changes and obtaining approval.
Incorrect landing page. B2B buyers often prefer to edit their orders in their procurement systems, which links to the merchant’s cart. However, I have seen”edit cart” functions that route buyers to the merchant’s home page or a catalog page versus launching the shopping cart. This frustrates buyers.
No support for configurable products. Many B2B websites struggle with supporting configurable products in the shopping cart. The challenge is to accommodate a listing of approved configurations. In the absence of such capacity, buyers are made to purchase configurable products offline, via the phone or direct sales personnel.
Missing lead times. B2B shopping carts should exhibit the availability of products that are ordered and, importantly, their associated shipping times. But most B2B websites do not display lead times. If they do, it’s often incorrect and static, such as”This product ships in two days.”
Limited payment methods. Purchase orders are the most common payment method on B2B sites. Often B2B buyers want more flexibility, however, such as payment by credit card, PayPal, or direct bank transfer. By not advocating these approaches, B2B websites eliminate earnings and clients.
No ad hoc shipping addresses. B2B customers sometimes require orders to be sent to a non-standard website. This might be a challenge as many merchants ship only to pre-approved addresses, to prevent theft. Regardless, merchants should allow ad hoc shipping addresses.
Outdated products. It is typical for B2B merchants to have outdated catalogs on their websites. The process for upgrading can be complicated — replacing each the goods and ensuring certain they are backward compatible. It’s necessary, however, since it prevents orders of out-of-stock or discontinued items.
No reorders. B2B ecommerce sites will typically report a customer’s order history. However, they don’t typically support reordering with that history. This is mostly because a merchant can not check the product from the order unless the customer punches back to the merchant’s site, to confirm the products and pricing. This makes it hard for customers to reorder products.