The needs and expectations of business e-commerce customers differ from those of consumers. Companies, for example, don’t always prefer a shipment to arrive in two days, but they do need it to arrive on-time and in the quality and quantity promised. Forrester predicted that by 2019 the B2B e-commerce market would be worth twice that of the B2C market. With investment rising fast, a TMS for parcel shipping can help B2B e-commerce organizations scale their operations more profitably to help meet this demand. Consider some unique aspects of e-commerce fulfillment for B2B companies.
The critical importance of being on-time.
Inherent urgency is ever-present when dealing with B2B customers. While consumers rarely want to wait, outcomes are typically less impactful when an order arrives late. For businesses, entire manufacturing operations can stall when critical components fail to arrive on time and assembly lines grind to a halt. B2B customers need dependable deliveries to reliably help them replenish parts and products to prepare for sales cycles, and a TMS for parcel shipping ensures real-time visibility for all vested parties and full transparency of order status even as a package moves from carrier to carrier. Unexpected delays trigger customer notifications, and more proactive steps can be taken to resolve the issue. So, what matters most when shipping to B2B customers? What can be done to keep deliveries arriving on time and customers well-informed?
Nurture your relationships with carriers.
Developing relationships with carriers should be a top priority. These relationships allow shippers to better serve B2B customers by keeping shipping costs and fees low and ensuring reliable on-time deliveries, but many B2B shippers don’t need a huge carrier network. Often, less is more. Due to the nature of B2B e-commerce, work typically falls into a routine or cycle in which inventories need to be replenished at somewhat-regular intervals. Many B2B customers prefer to work with a smaller group of the most dependable carrier services, rather than including as many options as possible.
Don’t get caught up on the bells and whistles.
Dependable, consistent on-time execution and order status visibility will keep B2B customers happy, but many will never request or need expedited shipping. Since B2B shipments tend to be much larger, expedited shipping can be cost prohibitive. Plus, business customers rarely need this, opting instead to plan ahead to avoid incurring these costs. Same-day and even next-day delivery are even more rare in this environment. B2B customers also don’t need locker pick-ups, in-store pickups, and other communal delivery options. With top requirements being consistent on-time delivery and order status transparency, B2B customers mostly need suppliers to be very good at the essential elements: shipping large deliveries in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Engage in regular feedback.
Also important in B2B shipping, receiving feedback from business clients helps ensure their satisfaction. Receiving this feedback makes it easier to identify problems early while they can still be addressed proactively. While a consumer may order from a business only once, B2B customer relationships tend to represent more orders and higher order values. With a propensity to replenish stock of parts, supplies and products, these relationships should be nurtured and developed over time, because losing one B2B customer can negatively affect the bottom line well into the future. Investing time to collect feedback and proactively address any problems that may arise can pay big dividends in client retention.
Invest in the right TMS for parcel shipping.
Clearly, the stakes are much higher for mastering the B2B shipping experience; it is important to realize what to seek out in a TMS for parcel shipping. It should of course improve the status of carrier procurement, fulfillment operations, customer service, and finance, but not all solutions are created equal. Make sure to seek out a TMS for parcel that provides a host of helpful features, including:
- Real-time delivery status updates and visibility to proactively respond to potential problems and deliver superior customer service
- Full integration and real-time “best fit” selection of carrier services, including global carriers when necessary
- Full carrier compliance
- Rate simulations and what-if analyses
- Performance reporting and analytics to fine-tune transportation strategy
To discover how Logistyx’s TMS for parcel shipping can better serve B2B customers and shippers, contact us today.