The best sales opportunities sometimes arise between businesses. Large transactions, regular customers, dependable partners – being a player in the Business to Business market can pay off. An important factor supporting your B2B success is found in your ePages online shop standard feature set. The ePages Blog will show you what’s available.
The most important features in your online shop for a B2B scenario are:
- Separating your customers into various customer groups – make special offers to various customer groups and individuals and make special shop features available to them.
- Handling of gross/net prices – define which tax model customers experience: whether they are presented gross-prices net-prices in your shop. Use different tax models for different markets.
- Simplified order process for returning customers – offer your regular customers the option of filling out order forms and using shopping lists to simplify order placement.
- Connection to other systems via web services – get to know our new shop products, ePages Flex and ePages for SAP Business One. Both support connecting business-management software to your online shop.
The login – sort your customers
When doing direct sales to end-users, it’s best not to limit access to your shop. But it is sometimes quite different in a Business to Business scenario. If you want to offer special prices to certain customer groups without making this public to everyone, it is better if the large customers and the small customers only see their own prices. To do this, you need to separate your customers as soon as they enter your shop.
Your ePages online shop provides several features to help you with this task. For example, if you want to make sure that only your known partners and customers can access your catalog, just limit shop-access to registered customers only. Anonymous visitors are not able to register themselves; they need to ask for an account via the contact page. The customer can only enter your shop after you have created an account for him in your shop back-office.
You can find the setting to block shop access for anonymous visitors in the menu item called „Settings/User management”. Choose the “Sign in” tab.
Another possibility is to allow potential customers access to the shop, but to allow only registered customers to create a shopping basket. You can find the necessary settings in the menu item called “Settings/Basket settings”.
If you allow baskets only for registered customers, visitors will be asked to register or log-in as soon as they try to place a product into the basket. Additionally, you have the option to block newly registered customers from ordering until you have given them permission to do so. You can read more details further down in this article.
In the „Registration“-tab, you can decide which data you want new customers to enter when they register at your shop for the first time, and which of those fields should be marked as “required”. Good to know: during the registration process, your customer’s VAT-ID number field will be checked for correct syntax and country of origin.
Customer groups, price lists and discounts – making individual offers
Offer your good customers and bulk purchasers discounts on their orders. Assign them to particular customer groups and offer them a variety of discounts, using price lists and discount schemes. In order to do this, proceed as follows:
To create a new customer group, choose the “Customers/Customer groups” menu item.
Create a new customer group, such as for regular customers. To assign a customer to this new group, choose the menu item called “Customers/Customers”. Click on the customer’s number in the list, and choose the “Customer account” link.
Now you can not only assign the customer to the customer group, but also – as mentioned above – decide whether you allow him to place orders. Further customer-specific features found here are the choice of tax model – whether to show gross- or net-prices to this customer, as well as adding an internal comment about the customer in the “Internal note” field. With the “Confirm now” button, you can also mark the customer account with a time-stamp which documents the last time you confirmed the accuracy of the account’s data. Note: the customer will not be informed of this action via E-Mail.
In order to set up price lists and discounts for the various customer groups, change to the „Products/Price lists” menu item. Here, you can add a new price list and its valid currency, as well as a time period for which the price list is valid. In the “Price lists/Advanced settings” page you can decide if you want to display the discount prices during each visitor’s whole visit to the shop, or to restrict display of special prices to the shopping basket. Be aware, though, that if you display discount prices everywhere, the performance of your shop will suffer.
Click on your new price list in order to change its parameters. Using the “Customer groups” tab, you can decide which groups should benefit from this price list’s discounts.
If you want to make the price list valid only for certain individual customers, you can use the „Customers“ tab. Be aware that each customer group and each individual customer can only be assigned to one price list.
Now you can click on the “Shopping basket discount” tab to define a minimum basket-price threshold as well as a general discount on the basket. You can choose between a percentage-discount or a fixed price (“Absolute value”) discount. The “Minimum amount” defines the minimum price of the basket needed before the discount takes effect.
It is also possible to create discounts for individual products, by assigning your price list to each desired product individually and then defining a special discount or set of scale-prices per product. To do this, choose the “Products/Products” menu item. Choose the product code for which you want to assign a discount, and then click on its “Prices” tab.
You can choose between “Bulk discount” and “Value discount”: you can either define discounts dependent on the amount of ordered products, or use a price threshold to define when the discount takes effect. For both types of discount, you can assign one or more price lists, each with its own discounts for that product.
Read in the second part of the article how to handle with Gross/net-VAT in your ePages shop and how to make it even more comfortable for your business clients to set orders by using the order form and shopping lists.
Volker Schwarz studied German, History and Politics at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. From 2004 to 2009 he worked as a freelancer for several marketing and communications companies in Hamburg, including e-commerce companies. Between August 2009 and December 2011, he worked as an online editor at ePages.