The digital customer portal: strategic building block of an efficient digitalization strategy

The digital customer portal: strategic building block of an efficient digitalization strategy

Many people are talking about the importance of digitalization and the opportunities it offers for SMEs in particular. But what does a successful digitalization strategy actually involve? And, more importantly, where do you begin?

Digitalization is not only a multi-component project but also a process of continuous improvement. Implementing this process in an incremental manner reduces its complexity. Companies embarking on a digitalization project should therefore focus initially on particularly important and critical scenarios. One crucial component in any project is a digital customer portal. A typical portal offers user-friendly web-based content and shopping options with easy navigation features, extensive product information, intuitive ordering functions, and a modern checkout process.

To achieve maximum value, the concept of digital customer interaction should be an integral part of your overall corporate strategy and involve all business units.

Digital B2B customer portal in the cloud

The traditional B2B model has reached a critical turning point. Until recently, most B2B companies built their sales and customer service around piles of printed catalogs, an army of sales representatives, and heavily staffed call centers. Today, however, the typical B2B customer does their product research and ordering online—often via their smartphone. At the same time, markets are becoming more competitive with the emergence of new domestic and international players. Faced with these developments, it’s essential that SMEs establish a digital portal where customers can research and order products. Thanks to the cloud, this digital transformation can be completed in a few days—rather than the months or even years it once required. It’s no longer necessary to hire additional IT staff, for example, or to expand existing in-house infrastructure. Using cloud-based solutions, SMEs can now try out new ways of doing things without huge up-front investment. They can start off small and grow their cloud solution to match their business needs. In addition, the cloud offers greater transparency and flexibility when designing e-commerce projects. As a result, businesses can avoid major investment with long return cycles and only pay for what they actually need.

Many SMEs already rely on Intershop

Papier LIEBL, a mid-sized wholesaler specializing in office equipment, office supplies, IT equipment, and packaging, has digitalized its sales channels and expanded nationwide across Germany. By implementing a digital order channel, Papier LIEBL has positioned itself within its sector as an early adopter of new technologies. The company is actively responding to changing expectations, especially those of emerging generations of “digital natives” working in procurement, and eager to involve its staff in the process of digitalizing its business model. By integrating its digital channel with traditional B2B ordering formats, Papier LIEBL is using this opportunity to expand its customer base and set itself apart from domestic and foreign competitors.

Zamro, an e-commerce spin-off within the ERIKS Group and a leading international provider of machine components and services, created and launched – together with Intershop – a digital customer portal in just five months. For Zamro, the main aim of the project was to simplify ordering—typically a complex process in its industry. The focus was on a perfect understanding of customer expectations in order to create an exceptional customer experience with comprehensive product information and fast, reliable delivery. In contrast to current norms across the B2B sector, the catalogs, products, and prices in Zamro’s new online store are all fully transparent. Potential customers can view this information without first having to register. Thanks to Intershop’s fully integrated order management solution, Zamro also has the tools it needs to orchestrate orders, payments, and invoices across multiple systems and suppliers.

Are you also planning to implement a powerful digitalization strategy? Learn how Intershop can help you create your digital customer portal with both, the speed and security you need. Have a look here: http://www.intershop.com/cloud-commerce.

Drazena Ivicic

Senior Product Marketing Manager

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