6 Ways to Onboard Customers to your B2B Ecommerce Portal

Jane McArthur
October 24, 2017
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Got your B2B online store all set up? Here are a few tips on how you can make your business’s transition to digital easy for your customers.

So you have put the “Yes, we’re open” sign on your B2B e-commerce platform. And now it’s time to sit and wait for your customers to start filling the aisles of your online store. Yet, this usually doesn’t happen this way when your store is made of pixels and measured in bytes.

But think about it: you would welcome a customer that has just walked in to your store with a smile, right? And you’d probably offer to help them so as to find what they’re looking for. In the exciting world of e-commerce this welcoming process is called onboarding.

What is Customer Onboarding and Why Does it Matter

Customer onboarding is a structured and methodical way of briefing your customers about your B2B portal. This is meant to show your customers around your platform using specific content, while focusing on its main tools and key functions. Ultimately, this process is all about supporting your customers as they learn how to navigate around your B2B online store.

Why it is important to do so? Numerous researches have shown that the first experience your customers have with your online service sets the tone for your entire relationship with them. Even more, successful onboarding can significantly increase customer profitability. This merely means that a poor and confusing onboarding experience may harm your business. In other words, a smooth onboarding process is essential for your business’s growth and sustainability.

6 Best Practices for Successful Customer Onboarding

It is now evident that proper customer onboarding is a great tool to boost both customer satisfaction and your revenue. And though it may seem like a mountain of workload to you, below you will find a few ways that pave the royal road to successful customer onboarding. Specifically:

#1. Onboarding starts with a word

If you have recently switched to online e-commerce, it is important to let your customers know about this new update in the way you will be taking their orders. So, go ahead and notify your customers using an introductory email. Are you more of a people person? Give your customers a call to share your news or instruct your sales reps to spread the word to them.

#2. Paint clearly the pre-onboarding process

When you’re sharing your news with your customers, it is important to give them a thorough breakdown of the process required before loging in to your e-commerce platform. For example, let them now that you will be sending them the address of your online B2B store, along with their username and password via email or message, and follow up on these messages to make sure they’ve received them.

Our customers keep raving about this platform | B2B Wave

#3. Show off your goods

One of the most effective and engaging ways to ensure a successful customer onboarding is to set up a demo of your digital ordering platform with your customers. This demonstration can be performed by you or by your sales reps.

By walking your customers through your B2B platform,they will feel more comfortable to use your portal as they will be exploring this new territory with you by their side. You will also get to showcase to each customer specific features and functions that will be useful to them – a great way to show them how deeply you understand their specific needs and how your new platform can fulfill them.

During your demo you can make sure the customer onboarding process teaches the customer a specific skill and ensure that they understand how they can use your online service to their ultimate benefit.

Walk your customers through your new B2B ecommerce platform to ensure their onboarding is smooth.

#4. Take a test order

You may have chosen to spend some time demonstrating your e-commerce platform to each customer or you may have sent them extensive information on how to you use it. Yet, do you really know if they understood the basic functions of your product? This is where verification of your onboarding process comes in.

How you can make it happen: one idea is to ask your customers to place a test order on your platform so that they can experiment with this new process. Another idea would be to place a test order for them and let them modify it on their own.

Either way, verification of your onboarding scheme comes with many benefits for you and your customer. And here’s why: for you customers, verification can significantly boost their confidence when ordering online. For you and your business, verification is key to improving your onboarding material and processes. And, considering that successful onboarding can indeed increase your sales and revenue, this is probably something worth investing your time and effort in.

Take a test order from your B2B ecommerce portal | B2B Wave

#5. Convert Offline Orders to Digital

So you may have demonstrated your B2B online store to your customers, yet you may see that some of them keep refusing to let go of their offline ways. You wouldn’t let a man drown in the (digital) sea, right? To help your customers get accustomed to your new platform and convert them to digital, you can load their open offline orders to your platfrom form ther –  and then let them take it from there. This is one of the most effective ways for your buyers to get their feet wet and for you to turn onboarding of less digital-savvy customers into a breezy and smooth experience.

By following this one-step-at a time process, your customers can get on board with your new platform at their own pace- just make sure you are there to support them will they learn how to… swim.

#6. Test your Process Out

The entire customer onboarding setup may be unexplored territory to you. It may even fill you with anxiety and cause you sleepless nights. We feel you – we have been through that and we have learnt one valuable lesson: test it till you make it.

Setting up your onboarding format and strategy requires time, effort, and high confidence. So you get your feet wet in the deep blue and unknown customer onboarding sea by introducing your B2B online portal to your closest customers and get their feedback on your process. That way you can start building on your confidence and understand more clearly what the experience is really like for your customers and what they are likely to look for, like, or find difficulty with.

Finally: Give buyers the “perfect” incentive

You may have successfully completed your onboarding process, yet how can you ensure that your old customers will immediately start using your shiny and new e-commerce platform to place their orders?  A great way to drive adoption of digital orders is to create incentives for your buyers and encourage them to take the leap into your B2B digital world.

Saving on shipping or a special discount can act as the “perfect” incentive for your customers to adopt your B2B e-commerce platform.

What could that incentive be? A reward in the form of special offers or discount coupons. Both can encourage your customers to use your B2B online store. As such, they can accelerate usage of your e-commerce platform once their onboarding has been completed.

And always remember: onboarding can be a very powerful weapon for you to increase your sales and build a strong and solid relationship with your customers. Plan your process right, train your buyers, provide them with the support they need and you will have nothing to fear!

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B2B Wave is a user-friendly software that allows B2B wholesale distributors and manufacturers to easily set up their ecommerce platform, accept orders online, communicate with their customers and boost their sales.
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