But losses mount for the home furnishings e-retailer that went public in October.
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Freeing up sales reps
Among all the advantages of working with b2b e-commerce technology, none is more important than the support it provides to teams of sales reps, b2b companies say. Most contract customers continue to work with an assigned rep, who routinely check to see that clients' online orders are shipped properly, Van Waes of Capitol Scientific says.
Capitol Scientific immediately assigns a rep to contact each new online customer, using the e-mail address a customer uses when signing up for an account. Reps then learn more about a customer's interests as well as if and when she needs assistance in placing orders; reps' commission models take into account all of a customer's purchases.
Freed from handling all the details of each order that customers can process themselves online, reps can focus more on finding new customers and building customer relationships, building on their base of sales and commissions, Van Waes says. Other b2b sellers follow a similar strategy.
"That's one of our goals," Baldwin of Noble Supply & Logistics, says. "To free up sales reps to look for new customers."
Tips for b2b e-commerce growth
- Test the water with a consumer-facing site to learn how to make a site user-friendly with site search and navigation, images and fast-loading pages
- Let new customers order in small quantities before committing to bulk orders
- Optimize a site for natural search, while also using marketing via paid search and social media
- Support customized pricing based on customers' contracts
- Provide good integration with back-end financial and inventory management software