Having been in the fenestration industry since the early ‘80s, I’ve seen a lot of change, from telephones to the then-revolutionary fax machine, and subsequently to email.
The way we do things has shifted and with those shifts have come consistent improvements in convenience and efficiency. And let me tell you, the shift to B2B eCommerce probably delivers more benefits than any of those prior developments – and what’s more, it’s within reach of your business right now.
The first question a lot of folks ask me is, "Well Bob, just what do you mean by B2B eCommerce?"
What B2B eCommerce Is
The simple answer is "the sale of goods or services between businesses via an online sales portal." If you’ve ever used Amazon or eBay, B2B eCommerce is the equivalent; the portal is simply the web page through which you access the service, with B2B meaning business to business. It just means selling items online between businesses, rather than from a business (like Amazon or eBay) to a consumer (like you).
The next question is, "What are the benefits of B2B eCommerce?" Again, a simple answer: dramatically improved efficiency.
With B2B eCommerce, orders are entered once, go directly into your planning and scheduling and straight through to the factory floor for manufacturing. Since your customers enter their orders themselves directly, they are responsible for the accuracy (rather than a salesperson doing so on the phone).
Orders are processed immediately, mistakes are eliminated and you gain complete visibility of your sales pipeline, incoming orders, schedule, bill of materials and planning. It’s faster, more accurate and allows you to take more orders, while saving time, and therefore money, across the supply chain.
It also boosts customer service because your dealers can get immediate and up-to-date pricing and submit orders without delay, allowing them in turn to help win business faster – and ultimately, they get their windows and doors faster, keeping the end user happy.
B2B eCommerce Is Revolutionary in Fenestration
Prior to joining Soft Tech, I worked on the delivery of a B2B eCommerce solution designed for use in the fenestration industry. These types of projects are considered revolutionary for our industry because many of us still rely on outdated and manual ordering systems, receiving orders by phone, fax machine and email.
The industry has scope to take that revolution to the next level with innovations such as guided selling, high quality/photo realistic visualization, engineering details and more.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s within reach of your business right now, and it is probably a lot more achievable than you think. From their desks, your dealers can see your entire catalog, select items to prepare and send a customized estimate, place orders directly into your system right in front of contractors, and receive live status updates as those orders are accepted.
Introducing B2B eCommerce rapidly delivers core functionality at low cost targeting the biggest available gains. It’s almost like magic – so I highly recommend taking a closer look.