More and more clients choose businesses that will take custom orders. This especially applies to B2B buyers who often want to order personalized products and arrange special ordering options, whether product, shipping or billing options. Clients not only expect B2B companies to provide customized versions of many products but also want to be able order them through self-service portals. There is also a big demand for custom ordering options such as getting approval from multiple decision-makers and offering custom billing and payment options.
This demand creates problems for some companies that don’t have an integrated sales platform. Without full integration of your eCommerce marketplace and all of your business applications, companies can only offer a few standardized options instead of truly customized ordering. B2B companies lose business every day to competitors that remove sales barriers and make it easy for customers to customize the ordering process and order customized products. This means that they can not only custom order a product, but they can get lead times, custom quotes and much more. Only a platform like Clarity eCommerce, which is built to be customized for B2B, can handle these needs. There are obviously other platforms that can do this (Hybris, Oracle ATG), but not anywhere near the price and timeframe that Clarity can.
The Importance of Offering B2B Customers Custom Ordering Options
The types of custom ordering in B2B sales includes personalizing products with company names and logos. Some customers might demand a product configurator, that allows them to build their own products to spec. Customers also want special ordering processes to satisfy their own internal processes and stakeholder demands.
One survey from McKinsey found that B2B customers demand customer-centric services as often as B2C customers.  In today’s world of additive manufacturing, small-run ordering and heightened customer experiences, offering B2B customers what they want is critical to maintaining a competitive edge and retaining customers. The McKinsey article revealed that one company launched a campaign to improve the customer experience by adding customer tools and more self-service options and transformed a negative net promoter rating into a positive one, ranking higher than the industry average.
Top Features of Custom Ordering Integrations
Companies can offer universal custom ordering to all their customers or reserve the option for their best customers. The B2B ordering system--when integrated into the sales platform--can offer product configurator options, customized ordering options and even private portals where a client’s customers can order products directly from the company’s B2B trade store and eliminate any possible errors caused by miscommunications. Integration enables a B2B organization to take custom orders, remove sales barriers and increase sales:
- Automated syncing with ERP or accounting software
- Assigning customers to specific purchasing terms, or inventory warehouses based on their needs or location
- Generating mobile-friendly displays for customers
- Custom pricing options
- Automated approvals of custom ordering
- Managing complex pricing tiers and “store-within-a-store” catalogs
- Automating administrative tools to manage orders, invoicing and fulfillment for special ordering
- Providing multiple payment options
- Assigning custom pricing tiers
- Taking preorders for new product lines
- Providing customized shipping options
- Allowing salespeople to place orders for customers to keep inventory levels at predefined levels followed by low-inventory alerts
- Enabling different customer stakeholders to order products within certain limits such as janitorial supplies and maintenance equipment
- Generating custom product catalogs for different client departments
- Making it easy to re-order items in bulk that have been ordered before
How to Deliver a Seamless Custom Ordering Experience
Integrating ERP and CRM software and other business applications enables B2B companies to offer greater ordering options based on their customers’ needs. B2B eCommerce companies can accommodate the most demanding clients with special automated workflows and ordering processes. Common custom ordering options include:
- Expanded Payment Options
Not all customers use the standardized payment method of online credit cards. Some companies require purchase orders and invoices. A custom portal makes it easier to offer customers a PO option and speeds the billing process so that B2B companies get paid faster.
- Split Payments or Shipping
Some companies might want to split their order total among multiple credit cards or with a credit card and purchase order. Some procurement managers often purchase for multiple physical locations and need to split an order apart. On the back-end, it’s not uncommon to split an order apart when multiple vendors are drop-shipping elements within the order. A B2B marketplace platform, like Clarity eCommerce, can do all of this easily.
- Complex Approvals
Even companies that don’t require committee approvals often need each order approved by the buyer, account manager and a senior company executive. Getting these approvals ensures that a B2B company doesn’t face order cancellations because of chain-of-command issues.
- Special Buying Patterns
Some companies have special seasonal needs that might change their ordering habits. This may include complex re-ordering of custom parts, split shipping, bulk ordering and much more.
- Multiple Stakeholders
Some orders must be approved by multiple decision-makers or company stakeholders. The buying process in these cases can become very complex and requires approvals from many customer decision-makers and the company’s business associates.
- Satisfying All Stakeholders
Key stakeholders can be overlooked, which could kill a major sale. For example, one auto-component manufacturing company received an order from a procurement company, but the end user was the automaker’s R&D team and shop workers.  This complicated ordering scenario was handled by putting the component manufacturer’s sales team in touch with the procurement team, the manufacturer’s R&D team with the automaker’s R&D team and the head of manufacturing with the shop-floor manager.
Customer journeys in B2B eCommerce are more complex than in B2C sales. That’s why integration is so important for handling custom ordering scenarios. Integrating the website experience not only delivers custom ordering options but also provides an engaging and interactive experience to each decision-maker. Companies can increase sales dramatically by offering custom ordering options. About 41 percent of B2B companies expect to grow by more than 25 percent each year in the immediate future.  Many companies are using custom ordering, personalization, bulk pricing and easier online purchase options to foster that growth.
Integrating your platform enables all kinds of custom ordering options when you choose an experienced development partner to build a platform that meets your needs and your customers’ expectations. Give Clarity a call today, to discuss your custom ordering portal.
 Mckinsey.com: Improving the business-to-business customer experience
 Bigcommerce.com: B2B Ecommerce Trends (+ Statistics From Our 2018 Survey)