The new potential in B2B Ecommerce part 3 - Empower your B2B customers with self-service


The self-service comes from integrating your website with your backend systems such as your ERP and CRM. The live integration provides dynamic data on prices and stock.

Many of our B2B clients are looking for inspiration on how to reduce cost of sale without compromising the customer service and experience. This is where B2B web self-service proves its worth.

CRM Magazine has conducted a survey among 520 CRM professionals, which clearly highlights the growth and importance of B2B web self-service. Nearly half of the respondents reported that their business used self-service channels in their CRM, and that they expected it to grow in importance.

The self-service comes from integrating your website with your backend systems such as your ERP and CRM. The live integration provides dynamic data on prices and stock, so that the customer on the frontend only has to click a few buttons to get the exact data he or she wants – including real-time 24/7 information, customized online catalogs, order history, shipping references, contract-based pricing, contractual terms, conditions and much more.

“B2B companies should compete for customers based on the experience provided, and not solely on price. The overall experience is what is key to long-term customer loyalty.” – Forrester, 2014

Empowering customers to serve themselves online not only increases customer satisfaction, but also reduces support and administrative costs. However, some self-service facilities are limited – often just FAQs and a search system, but web self-service is much more than that, it can also improve your bottom line and drive new sales! The same survey by CRM Magazine revealed that 47 % have seen increased sales through their customer self-service channels, and 54 % report increased web traffic since launching online self-service.

An example of a company who takes advantage of B2B web self-service is the Danish furniture manufacturer, Actona. The company produces more than 1,700,000 chairs, 225,000 dining tables, 370,000 couches and 260,000 office chairs for the US and Northern European market.

Before introducing self-service, Actona spend a lot of time updating and maintaining product information and generating catalogues for worldwide retailers. It was not possible for customers to retrieve this information without directly calling Actona, who then needed to update and produce a new catalogue. The slow and comprehensive procedures often lead to retailers using old and outdated catalogues, which eventually had a negative influence on product sales and branding. Consequently, Actona somehow needed to automate the processes, but without compromising the retailers individual needs for specific and up-to-date product information.

As a result, Actona came up with a comprehensive B2B self-service solution with integration to the company’s ERP system, Dynamics NAV. It not only reduces the administrative workload in Actona’s sales department, but it also provide the retailers with 24/7 self-service access to the entire product catalogue. It empowers the retailers to search the complete range of over 8,000 item numbers and to generate PDF catalogues on the fly with up-to-date product information to support their sales processes.

"We have put together 8,000 items, in 3 languages and 70,000 prices in one solution where catalogues and price lists are automatically generated." - Charlotte V. Kristensen, Marketing Manager, Actona Company.

In addition, the web-self-service solution enables Actona to reduce the manual workload, as product information is maintained and cross-published to catalogues, price list and dealer networks from one single place. This ability helps generate consistent product data while minimizing the amount of manual errors and misunderstandings between the internal sales department and the international retailer network.

“The solution is, without a doubt, one of the primary tools for our sales department and the return of our investment is down to just 6 months.” Says Charlotte V. Kristensen.

The solution has managed to secure a return on investment in just 6 months based on the many cost reductions achieved in saved wages and increased efficiency. It shows how self-service can support your retailers and sales processes by actually minimizing your own manual workload.

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