Facilitating Seamless Vendor Fulfillment
Vendor fulfillment generates many challenges for B2B websites. Many eCommerce companies expand their inventories by selling products that they don't actually manufacture or stock and rely on vendor associates, manufacturers, distributors and fulfillment companies to ship these products when orders are received. It's entirely possible to operate a B2B company without stocking any products, but most organizations just supplement their product lines with outside products or additional sources for their regular product lines. These outside vendors ship products directly from their warehouses, so these external supply chains generate website issues that mirror in-house supply chain management.
Orders might require drop-shipping for all or part of an order, and the rest would ship when available based on the outside vendor's inventory and shipping policies. The essential back-and-forth communications necessary to generate seamless experiences for customers benefit directly in proportion to how customized one or both parties' eCommerce software operates. Customers still want to monitor the delivery process and supply chain, and eCommerce companies want fast alerts when problems develop. Limited eCommerce software could aggravate any fulfillment and shipping problems by complicating returns and refunds and generating branding and trust issues when packaging is mislabeled, packing slips are inaccurate and back orders are involved. Customized eCommerce software can mitigate these risks by offering:
- Better coordination between vendors and eCommerce companies
- Custom dashboards to manage the process
- Electronic information-sharing on supply chain information
- Clearly defined responsibilities for each party that are carefully monitored
- Ability to leverage each partner's on-boarding processes
- Automated file integrations
- Providing a variety of shipping options and ways to monitor them
Customizing software for drop-shipping applications could return strong cost-value benefits to eCommerce companies by allowing them to expand their product lines without the associated costs of manufacturing, warehousing and storing inventory.
Managing Invoices, Billing and Credit
Managing invoices, billing, payments and credit is no longer a standardized process due to proliferating payment options such as digital wallets, direct fund transfers, global payments, in-house credit, purchase orders, currency conversions and credit card transactions. Business customers want quick access to past invoices online to review prices, products ordered, payment histories and account balances. Split-shipping and drop-shipping options further complicate getting a picture of where clients stand.
Large wholesale buyers might receive lines of credit or require EDI access where purchase details are electronically exchanged between ERP systems. Most B2B companies offer more ways to pay for orders than just credit cards, PayPal or checks. Large orders almost always require a purchase order, and some products are tax-exempt while others are taxable when businesses use the supplies and products in their business operations instead of reselling them.
Flexible payment options are increasingly in big demand and managing all these transactions becomes almost impossible without software customizations. Even the best off-the-shelf software won't have built-in functionality for payment options that didn't exist when the software was developed.
Managing House Accounts
Most companies offer their best customers credit terms or flexible payment options, and customized software can handle tasks like registering new customers, generating secure forms for credit applications, running credit checks and authorizing lines of credit.
Quoting Custom Prices
Most B2B companies find that their customers today want greater influence in designing products to satisfy more demanding customers. People don't just buy products based on price but research functionality, materials, safety, environmental concerns and other benchmarks before buying. A robust eCommerce company might have hundreds of customers wanting thousands of custom products and prices. The old way of doing business made pricing these complex orders extremely challenging and often involved consulting executives highly placed on the chain-of-command. Customized software can simplify pricing by automatically drawing data from manufacturing, inventory and the supply chain to facilitate pricing orders for special circumstances.
The right customizations for software applications to facilitate price quotes can increase sales, drive customer satisfaction and simplify the administrative tasks of approving and processing these orders. Custom-pricing software features or back-end integrations of QPC software offer the following B2B benefits:
- Promote a step-by-step custom-pricing process where every variable is addressed.
- Guide customers through the quoting process.
- Provide a range of recommended product customizations or fulfillment options.
- Connect customers with 2-D and 3-D CAD-imaging tools.
- Document the process to prevent misunderstandings.
- Get the latest prices of materials, labor and shipping costs.
Depending on their product lines, niche markets and other variables, decision-makers can customize the standard quoting functions in their eCommerce software or integrate with more complex QPC software to generate a vibrant alternative source of income that promises substantial growth as more business customers demand special products tailored to their needs.