4 top Salesforce B2B Commerce features for boosting business | Forte Group

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4 must-have Salesforce B2B Commerce features for business growth

Nearly one in three B2B organizations report that 50% or more of their overall revenue is already generated online. COVID-19 undoubtedly played a significant role in this turn of events accelerating this trendSsince the dawn of the pandemic in January 2020, the number of orders placed through B2B e-commerce platforms has increased by 44%. Even industries typically distant from digital disruption, like pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, joined the race.

Shifting to an online marketplace isn’t easy. For many organizations, that transformation takes years, but many organizations are utilizing Salesforce’s B2B Commerce Cloud to quickly launch online portals that offer customers seamless buying experiences and improve automation for business owners. If you’re unfamiliar with Salesforce B2B Commerce, what follows is a guideline of what this platform is and how companies can implement it to transform their online business model.

Salesforce B2B Commerce essential features

Over the last year, our Salesforce team has helped more than 30 businesses develop their SF portals. Here are the main features of B2B  Commerce our clients mentioned during the discovery stage:

  • Deployment possible in weeks 
  • Scalable and branded storefronts with a connected ecosystem
  • Seamless integrations with the apps, data, and processes your business utilizes
  • Shopping cart processing caters to hundreds of products per transaction
  • Personalized shopping experience with customizable themes
  • B2B-specific self-service tools like fast reorder and account hierarchies
  • Negotiable contract pricing and custom catalogs
  • Powerful CRM for omnichannel connection with B2B customers 
  • All in-person and digital touchpoint customer data represented in a single interface

 

On top of that, there are additional features of Salesforce B2B Commerce:

  • Sophisticated purchasing recommendations
  • Split shipments with multiple off-loading locations to support manufacturers
  • Subscription-based sales and automated renewals
  • Access to real-time data and automated order processing

In this article, we’ll go over the essential features of the Salesforce B2B platform that your business could put to good use.

1. Omnichannel customer experience 

“Omnichannel” means the joint effort of multiple marketing channels to create a seamless customer experience, regardless of whether the interaction happens online or offline. Implementing an omnichannel platform like Salesforce B2B Commerce allows you to keep track of your history with a particular customer, living up to the “buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere” expectation. No matter how much time has passed since the last interaction, you’ll always be able to pick up where you left off — in a retail store, on social media, or via email. 

Besides making your customers more satisfied, all-encompassing omnichannel implementation prevents miscommunication between departments and lost sales opportunities. With a unified customer database backing up every channel, a specific customer won’t ever have to reexplain their issue or the order when switching from a chatbot to email. It saves time and meets the demand for products that are yet to be released or are temporarily out of stock. Omnichannel connectivity also supports order changes on the fly — like shipment destinations or preferred warehouse locations — provisioning B2B customers with unparalleled flexibility of their supply chain.

Success stories from early Salesforce B2B omnichannel adopters demonstrate astonishing results. For example, medical products supplier Ovation Medical broke its organizational silos and ramped up the productivity of its sales team by 200% percent by accommodating the needs of recurring business buyers. Now, they can easily switch from phone orders to personal buying experiences online, where all their preferences can be safely stored for future purchases. Other retailers report similar experiences of increased website traffic and conversion rate growth after introducing omnichannel opportunities to their audience.

 

 

Ask the expert

In your experience, does Salesforce improve business processes?

It certainly does, but the lengths different businesses must go to in order to adopt Salesforce B2B Commerce vary considerably. Some already have significant experience when it comes to digital commerce, and some are still doing business over the phone or on spreadsheets. In every industry, technicalities vary a lot, but what is common is that the business knows that to stay ahead of the competition, they need faster shipping, more affordable pricing, and highly personalized offers. As tech providers, we mold what Salesforce offers into a highly efficient solution that covers specific business needs.

 

— Maksym Koval, Director of Delivery at Forte Group

2. A thoroughly personalized user experience 

The one-size-fits-all era of B2B sales is over. According to the recent State of the Connected Customer report, more than half of B2B customers expect a hyper-personalized buying experience. Influenced by the improved experience they see in B2C channels, B2B customers now expect salespeople to act as their trusted industry advisors rather than occasional merchants that enable access to goods. To make it happen, sales staff need to take time out of their working hours to serve B2B customers one-to-one. This can be difficult, considering the amount of data and the number of tasks an average sales manager has to process daily.

To make the job easier for the vendor and facilitate the B2B ordering process for the buyers, competitive enterprises strive to make the most of the data they have available. By taking into account the geographical footprint of each B2B user and assigning unique contract terms, the company builds a highly personalized customer journey. 

Aside from fueling more sales, highly intuitive self-service benefits the business itself. For instance, when one business we work with needed to automate its shipping fee calculations to remain relevant to its international customers, the Forte Group team incorporated this custom feature. As a result, the auto parts manufacturer achieved a lower cost of management while boosting sales.

 

“By adopting Salesforce B2B Commerce as our primary sales engine, we’re headed forward as a business at a faster pace.”

Ryan Holt, General Manager at Ex-Guard Industries

 

3. Empowering tools for the sales team

High-performing sales teams are 1.4 times more likely to have a free and open flow of customer data between sales and service departments than underperforming teams. The key here is the complete understanding of the context for each deal, and fast and accurate responses to each customer request. How do sales teams achieve such velocity when human resources are always limited?  

Enhanced with effective process automation, CRM and B2B e-commerce platforms remove mundane tasks from the sales team’s work scope, freeing up time for one-to-one interaction research. Features of B2B e-commerce platforms like mobile-optimized access to the CRM and time-saving automated quotes give store managers the power to find solutions in customer-facing situations on the go. In the long run, these efforts convert into long-term relationships. With no need to go back and forth to specify the contract details, negotiations progress more smoothly and end up in mutually beneficial agreements.

To facilitate such agreements, Salesforce B2B Commerce boasts a sales cloud tool called Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ). It allows for managing custom negotiated pricing and discounts to shorten the sales cycle and eliminate inefficient communication with customers. A B2B buyer gets timely and error-free price quotes that are generated automatically upon request. As a result, B2B companies can analyze real-time profitability data from previous contracts and continually increase deal values. 

Finally, besides the flexible capabilities it brings, well-streamlined sales quoting software is a competitive advantage when good customer service is expected. It’s no coincidence that 62% of high performers consider guided selling technology to be the future of sales.

 

 

Ask the expert

What do enterprises usually expect from Salesforce B2B Commerce implementation?

Firstly, they always turn to digital commerce solutions to cut the time spent on order processing. Secondly, B2B platforms allow for more online-specific options, like upselling and promotions to effectively clear out warehouses and tax and shipping fee automation. In perspective, it reduces the cost of ownership of the whole system.

Also, the requests for our Salesforce team from clients depend heavily on the industry where the platform will be implemented. The most requested features are the ones that are considered the digital commerce standard — like email notifications about the order placed. The most complicated ones our team has faced so far are promotions and multilevel pricing tiers. They require a lot of complex calculation models, but the results are astonishing.

Sometimes, the client doesn’t have a clear vision or a list of features they would like to have, but that’s not a problem! When in doubt, we can act as Salesforce experts and offer the best practices our team has accumulated through the years.

— Maksym Koval, Director of Delivery at Forte Group

Read also: Auto parts manufacturer boosts sales through Salesforce B2B Commerce Forte Group 

4. Well-rounded self-service tools

The B2B audience differs vastly from the B2C audience, since their relationship with the vendor is more often than not long-term, and their purchases tend to be repetitive and come in bulk. Therefore, B2B clients require special treatment to convert them into returning customers — hence pricing tiers and negotiations. But, if there’s a need to change a single detail in a recurring order, contacting a sales representative seems too time-consuming and excessive. 

 

Here’s where automation comes into play. Salesforce self-service tools enable B2B buyers to control their purchases and provide them with the power to correct their order contents, request price updates, and adjust logistics to what they see fit. Effort-wise, it beats over-the-phone reordering for both sides.  

The options Salesforce offers to your business are a perfect mix of human interaction and automation. Below is a list of the main Salesforce B2B Commerce features you can implement to boost self-service:  

  • AI-powered search engine
  • Order history
  • Citing requests
  • Placing requests
  • Streamlined reordering
  • Tracking orders 
  • Tracking request status

Based on your industry and the size of clients you serve, a B2B automation solution like Salesforce is the core of a satisfying digital experience and the promise of friction-free business.

 

 

Ask the expert

Is the Salesforce B2B platform ready to use out-of-the-box, or does it require heavy customization?

It depends on where your business is headed. Of course, there’s always room for improvement with such a highly customizable system, but the platform itself has all the basic mechanisms you need to serve a B2B audience. However, despite Salesforce Commerce being marketed as a B2B platform, it also provides capabilities to expand the business to the B2C sector.

Running a well-established B2B business is the first step to entering the direct-to-consumer market successfully. There are some system limitations of course, but some enterprises have a split presence on the market — for example, we’ve had clients who were 50 percent B2B and 50 percent B2C. This ratio is very dynamic. So, the customizations are dictated by the market — While B2C customers prioritize a sleek user experience, the B2B crowd levitates towards convenient logistics and long-term conditions like bulk discounts.

— Maksym Koval, Director of Delivery at Forte Group

Not moving forward with digitalization is losing

If you’re not taking advantage of everything B2B Commerce has to offer, your strategy may fall flat. As the Salesforce State of Commerce Report shows, 63 percent of B2B leaders report that e-commerce has freed their teams from the logistics of order processing and allowed them to become strategic advisors. By streamlining processes like reordering and order fulfillment, you empower your employees to focus more on the strategic component of their job rather than being occasional order-takers. At the same time, your customers stay satisfied and come back for more.

 

 

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Oksana Mikhalchuk

by Oksana Mikhalchuk

Oksana Mikhalchuk is the digital marketing manager at Forte Group. She is passionate about creating content and is fascinated with technology and the untapped potential it carries for business digital transformation.

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