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04/13/2022

CPQ solutions are critical to your B2B e-commerce experience

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Configure, price, quote (CPQ) solutions help ensure successful online B2B transactions.

Successful business-to-business (B2B) digital commerce requires the right configure, price, quote (CPQ) technology.

Business-to-business (B2B) digital commerce transactions are surpassing B2B direct sales, according to a recent Gartner survey, and are forecast by Forrester to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023. As such, having a run-of-the-mill B2B e-commerce site is no longer good enough; in fact, taking it to the next level is expected.

Still, companies are slow to adapt and lack a strategy to deliver an optimized customer experience. Barriers remain to wider adoption of B2B digital commerce – particularly around the ability to negotiate complex agreements, get the best price and terms, and buy complex goods and services; or indeed, the full range of goods and services offered by the seller.

Much was done pre-pandemic predominately via in-person haggling and horse trading, but today’s buyer values IQ – a smart shopping experience built around world-class technology – over EQ, namely an emotional connection with a human salesperson.

This translates to e-commerce today representing a shift toward a seamless, omnichannel shopping experience for customers – which can be met both through e-commerce software and human salespeople (if needed for when high-quality customer service is expected).

According to the same Gartner survey, one of the biggest barriers to entry for sellers to upgrade their e-commerce strategy is their belief that the products they sell are too complex to sell online. With so much competition in the market for manufacturing, bottlenecks and poor-performing solutions can hamper the bottom line. Competing in new, digital markets requires a solution built specific to an industry’s needs, particularly if you are the manufacturer, retailer or distributor of complex engineer-to-order products. Therefore, to better enable an omnichannel experience for all kinds of customers, small-to-midsize business and enterprise sellers are looking to deploy product configuration technology coupled with visual configuration technology.

Consider the below technology tactics to take your B2B e-commerce experience to the next level.

Visual product configuration
With a visual product configurator, visitors to your site can customize complex products to their exact specifications using an intuitive, interactive 2D or 3D interface. They can resize sections, add or remove parts, upgrade features, change colors, and play around, getting to know your product offering inside and out.

As they explore different designs, prices change dynamically in real-time to match configurations with budgets. Once they’ve carried out their independent research, buyers can contact a sales rep or make their purchase there and then. It’s an immersive shopping experience, and a marked differentiator, that brings products to life and connects buyers to a brand on a deep, emotional level.

Buyers take full ownership of their configurations, understand every available option and feel invested in their purchase decisions.

CAD and design automation
Combining visual product configuration with CAD and design automation takes the customer experience a giant leap further. Once a customer has settled on their configuration, leverage a tool that can automatically generate anything from a simple 2D rendering with dimensions right up to an engineer standard technical drawing through SolidWorks or systems like AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, and PTC Creo.

CAD and design automation dramatically shorten sales cycles and reduce the endless back-and-forth between reps and customers – not to mention reps and engineers – that has defined B2B sales for so long. The result? A streamlined purchase process for complex engineer-to-order products, fewer errors and more satisfied customers.

Omnichannel sales
Buyers exposed to omnichannel strategies are likely to be more active, more loyal and higher-spending customers. And 75% of B2B buyers would buy again from the same supplier because of their omnichannel capabilities. Omnichannel sales means tying together all sales channels, providing a seamless on-and-offline experience with full cross-channel visibility and fulfillment options. By migrating all services to the cloud and connecting them via APIs, your customer gets a consistent experience across all touchpoints.

Overall, the transformative powers of B2B e-commerce cannot be understated. Adopting the right fit digital commerce tools will enable customers to transact 24/7, frees sales reps from transactional tasks, lowers the cost of sales, and increases customer satisfaction.

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