Why is flexible shopping cart important for B2B?

Anatolii Iakimets

October 29th, 2020

B2B buyers increasingly prefer to procure goods and services via digital channels and demand convenient, streamlined purchasing experiences that rival B2C experiences. These B2B purchases can often be tricky - going beyond merely adding several items to the cart and checking out. Customers require the ability to make purchases for multiple departments, order large quantities of items, and quickly add items from existing lists.  This blog post will discuss complexities associated with large organizations' purchasing processes and why a powerful cart is vital to address those complexities. We will use a fictional company named Alpha as an example.

Company Alpha manufactures and sells energy drinks. It promotes its drink across multiple channels, including racing and music events. The company is a medium enterprise, and it has the Sales, Marketing, Operations, Finance, and Human Resources departments, but no purchasing department. All purchases are done by respective departments as needed and approved by managers.

Megan is an event manager, and she has several events upcoming. The events are scheduled to happen one after another, but the preparation will overlap. For each of the events, many items need to be purchased, including merchandise and consumables. The events are for different brands, each with its brand managers who will approve items for each of the events separately. There are several challenges in this seemingly simple task.

Parallel purchasing processes

The preparation process for the organization's events is run parallel, so the purchasing process should also be. If it is not, it can create challenges for Megan. She either has to check out items in batches as they get approved, which can make getting volume/value discounts harder, or finish the process for one of the events before going to another, which can compromise the overall preparation process. And what if the second event is rescheduled after the third one and only half of the items were approved? Megan has to empty the cart and refocus on the third event and then start the purchasing process for the second event all over again. It can make a reasonably straightforward process very chaotic.

To ensure that everything is purchased on time, Megan would want the events' buying processes to be parallel. This way, she could maintain three separate lists of items for each of the events, approve them in parallel and add them to the cart as they get approved.

The problem can be solved with multiple carts functionality. It allows Megan to maintain multiple independent carts in parallel. Megan can find required items on the commerce platform for a specific event, approve them with the respective brand manager, and add them to the respective cart. Once all the required items have been added to the cart, it can be checked out. If any of the approval processes get delayed, there is no impact on the other events. The process becomes much more streamlined, and user experience improves for Megan.

Re-ordering large quantities of items

One of the other challenges that Megan faces in her day to day work is re-ordering of items. Sometimes she needs to order some of the items she used in one of the previous events—the information on the item in one of the presentations stored on her desktop. To order the item again, she has to find it on the website, which can be not easy if the product selection is large or has to find a previous order in the order history. This can be even harder with a large number of orders, each containing multiple items. The problem becomes even more prominent if numerous items need to be re-ordered, for example, from an excel spreadsheet. Imagine trying to add manually 50 items, each with a different quantity. No fun at all.

This challenge can be addressed with bulk order functionality. It allows Megan to simply enter the SKU number into the web interface to add an item to the cart. On top of this, Megan can copy an excel spreadsheet with all the details to immediately add multiple items to the cart. It is a straightforward functionality that dramatically improves user experience.

The above examples demonstrate why having a flexible cart functionality is extremely important for B2B businesses. It allows you to streamline purchasing processes and improve user experience. Making purchasing easy makes it more likely for the customers to buy more from you, increasing customer loyalty and Customer Lifetime Value. Elastic Path industry's most flexible eCommerce cart for both B2B and B2C purchasing, and made it even more potent for branded manufacturers who aim to drive higher conversion rates and revenue.

If you want to learn more about how Elastic Path can help you drive growth in B2B business – don't hesitate to contact us.

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Anatolii Iakimets

Anatolii is a Product Marketing Manager at Elastic Path, where he is responsible for the telecommunications and media industry.