March 30, 2021

Delighting customers with B2B Commerce Cloud

In the B2B space, the customer and user experience is more complex compared to in the B2C space. The needs of B2B customers go far beyond just shopping, and much of it happens "behind the scenes". Here, I’ll give you a brief overview of the difference between Optimizely (Episerver)’s Commerce Cloud and B2B Commerce Cloud and highlight some of the B2B Commerce Cloud features.

What’s in a name?

Before we get into specifics, let’s get a few things out of the way. The names of the B2B options on the Optimizely (Episerver) platform can be a bit confusing. But the power of these tools is worth understanding the distinctions. So first, a little history to clarify the options.

The platform we are talking about here was previously known as Insite Software. In December 2019 it was acquired by Episerver and became "Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud powered by Insite". Episerver announced in January 2021 that they would be reintroducing themselves as Optimizely as a part of a strategic rebrand. So, when we talk about "B2B Commerce Cloud" we are talking about Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud, Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud, and Insite.

Before Episerver acquired Insite Software, they already had a commerce offering called Episerver Commerce Cloud. Both Insite and the Episerver Commerce Cloud have received industry analyst recognition in B2B commerce. Optimizely (Episerver) still offers these two different products that represent two different architectures for an ecommerce implementation.

Optimizely (Episerver) Commerce Cloud is a framework with high levels of extendibility, enabling you to create any digital experience you want. As a result, it can be more labor intensive to build, but also is extremely powerful.

Optimizely (Episerver) B2B Commerce Cloud is built to support implementation mainly through configuration. It focuses on B2B commerce, allowing B2B organizations to realize more features and capability faster with a lower total cost of ownership. Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud can also be extended, but it’s strength and differentiation is in configurable tools and integrations.

Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud Extensive Self-Service Capabilities for Customers

Digital commerce goes beyond add-to-cart

As B2B companies quickly realize, implementing digital commerce requires more than just a simple template or pretty design. B2B buyers have different needs than B2C, and some of the most important capabilities are only viewable if you are logged in. The capabilities for customers who are logged in are just as important as the ability to add a product to your cart – maybe even more so. It’s a critical part of the B2B user experience.

As a development company that works with complex digital commerce implementations, I understand that what goes on behind-the-scenes is just as important as the users’ shopping experience. By saving customers time and supporting their purchase process, you improve their loyalty and increase your customer’s lifetime value.

Let’s look at how Optimizely (Episerver) B2B Commerce Cloud enables customers to serve themselves with features that are pre-built for you.

User Management, Order Approvals, and more

A classic B2B need that is missing in many ecommerce platforms is the need to support multiple users who order on behalf of an organization. Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud has powerful capabilities for enabling B2B customers to manage their account, including:

  • The capability for a customer admin to create new users within their account
  • Different roles for users such as buyers and administrators
  • The option to setup an "order approval process" where certain users require approval from others before the order is submitted
  • Lists of products that can be shared between users
  • The ability to view orders, history, invoices and more

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B2B Commerce Cloud enables a customer admin to create additional users within their account

Budget Management

Another capability that is provided for within user management is the ability to setup budgets for buyers. If your customer has several buyers at their organization, budget management tools support their organization in staying within their budget. It makes their job of vendor management easier by knowing there are budget controls setup on your digital commerce site. With budget management in place, your customer will be more likely to place orders with you because they know you are helping them to stay within their budget.
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B2B Commerce Cloud enables customers to have budgets to support their procurement process

Invoice History

Are your sales reps or customer service team members fielding calls with requests for invoices to be resent? What happens when your customers discover they need an invoice outside of your normal business hours? Help your customers find and get the right invoice to their A/P team with the ability to lookup invoices on your website. While it is common for ecommerce software to show order history, most platforms on the market do not show invoice history without costly customizations and additional data integration work.

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B2B Commerce Cloud allows customers to look up past invoices, even if orders weren't placed online

We’ve just scratched the surface

B2B Commerce Cloud has many more features than what we’ve been able to highlight here. A few others to quickly note:

  • Restriction Groups allow you to restrict products from shipping to certain states, enable special products to show up only for certain customers, or set up custom rules that are important for your business.
  • Analytics combine sales, customer, user, and digital behavior information to give you a wholistic view of how your online presence is performing alongside your traditional sales.
  • Product Information Management (PIM) – B2B Commerce Cloud offers a PIM module to simplify the management of your product catalog, including the documents and images related to your products.
  • Mobile app – B2B Commerce Cloud has a Native Mobile app add-on that enables your customers to search your product catalog, place orders, view invoices and more from their mobile device – all without any development.

When you make customers’ lives easier, you increase the likelihood that they will place future orders with you. It is less likely they will price shop because the efficiency of doing business with you is a value add. Optimizely (Episerver) B2B Commerce Cloud offers extensive pre-built functionality for B2B ecommerce Sites. This means you can better compete in your market and have more capability on your site faster than your competition. B2B Commerce Cloud has been built with an understanding of the needs of B2B buyers and of the manufacturers and distributors managing the sites.

As you plan for your B2B ecommerce project, take a look at our guide on the "9 Critical Steps to launching a Robust B2B Ecommerce Website".

Are you curious to explore whether Optimizely B2B Commerce Cloud is right for your project? Let’s talk!