Service excellence: How personalized customer portals are transforming B2B e-commerce

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In this blog article, we’ll delve into the significance of customer portals within B2B e-commerce, drawing from our experiences from the Sonepar Suisse project. Innovative and user-friendly customer portals present numerous advantages to B2B organizations, positively influencing both customer experience and corporate performance. In a world where digital presence and online interactions have become vital, customized portals are essential for achieving business success.

Customer-centric portals: convenience, efficiency, and data-driven personalization

For customers, a well-designed portal translates to heightened convenience and efficiency. By way of a personalized user interface, they can easily browse, compare, and purchase products and services with just a few clicks. In addition, they benefit from being able to track orders, obtain support, and access invoices and contracts. And these are just some of the advantages and functionalities of modern customer portals. The self-service capability is not only convenient for customers but also strengthens their trust in the brand, thereby nurturing customer loyalty.

By analyzing user interactions within the customer portal, businesses can refine their offerings to better meet customer needs. Modern data analysis tools now allow for the display of critical metrics through cockpit analytics. Key performance indicators such as bounce rate, conversions (conversion tracking), and sentiment analysis – to name but a few – all offer valuable insights.

What characterizes an excellent customer portal?

This topic holds significant relevance in today’s digital environment, as evidenced by a wealth of publications, articles, as well as discussions with our clients. In a survey conducted by Carpathia, an independent consultancy specializing in digital commerce, 27 diverse B2B companies in Switzerland were asked about the functionalities that their customer portals provide. Notably, online ordering and e-commerce capabilities emerged as the most commonly mentioned core functionalities.

These findings prompt a critical inquiry into the indispensable integrations and modifications necessary for a web store to thrive in the competitive digital marketplace.

The must-haves of a customer portal:

  1. Customer loyalty: A portal that prioritizes user-friendliness and is tailored to the specific needs of its users boosts customer satisfaction and encourages long-term loyalty. Amazon serves as a prime example of this principle in action. Its platform features an intuitive user interface, personalized recommendations, and easy order tracking, all of which contribute to a high customer retention rate.
  2. Personalization: Customer portals that offer self-service options and personalized experiences significantly increase customer satisfaction. Netflix is a good example of this. The streaming service uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze users’ viewing behavior and provide personalized recommendations. This not only improves the overall user experience but also increases user loyalty.
  3. Automation: Automated processes and self-service functionalities reduce the demand for manual intervention by staff, resulting in lower operational costs. Through the digitalization of processes such as ordering, returns, and customer support, businesses are able to streamline their internal workflows, conserving both time and resources. A notable example in this regard is the feature that enables customers to independently track and manage their orders, which has gained widespread popularity. This autonomy not only decreases the number of customer service inquiries but also improves the efficiency of the shipping process.
  4. Upselling and cross-selling: A customer portal must be strategically designed to encourage the purchase of additional and complementary products or services., for instance, shows users complementary offers such as car rental options or excursion destinations that align with their initial purchase – in this case, a hotel reservation. This approach not only drives extra sales but also contributes to an increase in overall revenue
  5. Data analysis: By collecting and analyzing customer data, companies can gain valuable insights into their customers’ behavior and preferences. This data can then be leveraged to improve products and services. Salesforce’s customer portal offers comprehensive analytics tools that help companies collect and analyze customer data. Such capabilities facilitate the identification of sales opportunities and the personalization of customer interactions.

These five critical aspects underscore that a one-size-fits-all solution is no longer enough. To drive the future development of the customer platform and address the diverse requirements of customers, companies must pursue innovative approaches.

Case study: Sonepar Suisse AG

In collaboration with Sonepar Suisse AG,a frontrunner in Switzerland’s electrical wholesale industry, we embarked on precisely this transformative journey. Our goal was to identify ways that would allow customers to achieve their objectives faster and more effectively.

The emphasis was on enhancing digital commerce and productivity in various areas. Sonepar Suisse’s B2B online store now features the following functionalities:

  • Customers can configure and order any combination of switches either with a click or via drag & drop.
  • Digital goods inspection fully automates the entire incoming goods process, from the checking of items to handling possible returns.
  • With Track & Trace, customers can track their orders at any moment and view the exact delivery coordinates.
  • The lamp finder helps customers find the right light source for a specific lamp.
  • The innovative navigation concept enables the efficient display of over 220,000 products.
  • A comprehensive authorization system ensures a tailored user experience.
  • Thanks to multi-carts and watch lists, it is possible to work on several projects at the same time.
  • Quotes can be requested and viewed digitally via the online store, and the items can be ordered directly.

For Sonepar Suisse, the goal was to develop a platform that goes beyond mere efficiency; it needed to be precisely adapted to the unique requirements of electricians. By adopting a platform-as-a-service approach, valantic, in collaboration with Sonepar Suisse AG, successfully implemented a highly scalable and efficient B2B platform. Functioning akin to an ERP system, the B2B Spryker store ensures complete transparency across orders and equips users with reliable tools for personalized self-service.

Start the transformation: from B2B webshop to comprehensive service platform

Are you ready to upgrade your B2B platform to a service platform? We’d be happy to support you with expert knowledge and targeted solutions. Let’s schedule a personal, non-binding call to discuss your requirements!

Portrait von Martin Schmutz, valantic CX, Customer Experience

Your contact to us

Sales Director
valantic CEC Schweiz
+41 71 313 55 70

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