In case you haven’t noticed, COVID-19 hastened the move to eCommerce for B2B wholesalers and distributors. In just four years, auto parts sales doubled to reach a record $19 billion. Are you looking to re-platform your existing eCommerce automotive site or launch for the first time? Here is how to build the ultimate B2B automotive eCommerce website.
Supply Chain Visibility
Start by building transparency into your supply chain. Make sure your website contains the most accurate inventory counts. Whether you sync with the warehouse in real-time or in batches several times a day, make sure inventory numbers are available.
The pandemic disrupted supply chains to the extent that many buyers are wary of placing an order unless they know the stock is available. If a buyer doesn’t see an inventory quantity, there’s a good chance they will move on and buy elsewhere.
If an item is on backorder, let the customer know at the time the order is placed. Either disallow orders where inventory is not sufficient for complete fulfillment or provide the option to be notified when stock is available.
If you operate in multiple regions or countries, be sure to make full use of localization. Display your website in the language and currency that’s appropriate for the user. Offer shipping options for delivery to the location.
If you operate multiple fulfillment warehouses, use geolocation to select the fulfilling warehouse and estimate the dock-to-dock delivery time.
TruPar sells forklift replacement parts in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Because their buyers generally have an emergency need, they need to give accurate estimates of delivery time. Geolocation services allow the website to determine the best warehouse for shipping and provides the buyer an estimated time in transit.
They operate three regional websites from a single back-end. Since upgrading their website to meet customer demands for 2021 and beyond, they’ve increased the average order value by 70% and total sales by 25%.
Custom Catalogs and Price Lists
Most automotive eCommerce websites must process tens of thousands and even millions of SKUs. Make sure your web store’s database won’t bog down under the load.
Also, free your customers from endlessly searching through products they never purchase simply to find the ones they do.
Create custom catalogs for each customer. These can be displayed when the customer logs into their account. And make sure the custom catalogs provide the customer’s negotiated price. Displaying a price builds trust.
Provide a powerful search capability in those custom catalogs. Let shoppers search by product category, brand, use, color, or material. Make sure the search extends to your entire product line in case this is an item not previously purchased.
Quick Re-Order Functionality
For some automotive supply companies like TruPar, the same product might not be purchased regularly. But for companies like JBE Jobbers Warehouse, their customers buy many of the same products repeatedly.
This is the type of buyer that wants to minimize the amount of time making a purchase. So, for the best customer experience in 2021, build in quick re-order functionality.
You can provide this through the order history by accepting uploads of CSV files or even EDI integration. No matter how you do it, make sure to eliminate any friction in the re-order process.
Multiple Levels of User-Based Permissions
A B2B purchase is rarely made in a vacuum. Each purchaser has a workflow and approval authority they must follow.
So, it makes sense to allow your users to define their account levels and permissions. This functionality is one of the driving forces behind the popularity of Amazon for Business.
For each company account, the user defines the access levels and authorities. If Buyer B needs approval from Buyer A, allow the user to define the workflow to fit their organization, not yours.
This is the type of feature that differentiates your brand’s customer experience from your competitor. And in 2021 and beyond, the name of the game in eCommerce is customer experience.
Rich Product Data
Provide all the information necessary to turn a product researcher into a buyer. In 2021, buyers want a self-serve model. They don’t want to call or email and ask for MSDSs or user manuals. They want easily accessible warranty information before they make the purchase.
Buyers are looking for use cases, white papers, how-to videos, and part schematics. Be sure to give it to them. If your brand creates podcasts or webinars, make them available on your website too.
Don’t shy away from including customizable products. Even highly customizable products can be sold through eCommerce when you use the right automotive eCommerce platform.
Ensure your website is supported by a CMS that makes designing landing pages easy and doesn’t require an engineer to add a new product.
The ultimate automotive eCommerce website in 2021 is the product of an integrated set of business solutions. It provides the highest possible level of customer satisfaction.
Integrate your eCommerce platform with your ERP, WMS, PIM, 3PL, and other business solutions. Let data flow effortlessly through the architecture so that when a customer calls or emails, you have a 360° view of their every interaction. As new products are added to the PIM, they flow to the website and ERP.
Orders flow through the ERP and WMS, so inventory levels are updated, sales orders convert effortlessly into invoices, and order status and tracking information flow back to the customer’s portal in the website.
Not only will an integrated automotive eCommerce website provide a superior experience for the customer, but it improves your efficiency as well. Without data silos, you’ll generate action-oriented reports, make more informed decisions, and improve your marketing
Focus on the Customer
The ultimate automotive eCommerce website in 2021 (or another year) focuses squarely on customer needs.
As you develop your site, reach out to existing customers and find out what functionality they want. Use heatmaps on your existing sites to determine areas buyers use and identify the ones they ignore.
Make every decision around improving the customer journey… That’s what will set your site apart from the competition.