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Commerce & engagement

3 good reasons why B2B companies should invest in portals


Portals are nothing new – they’ve been around for about two decades, first in the form of intranets and extranets that primarily aggregated and provided information. But already in the mid-2000s, the first implementations of B2B portals combining eCommerce and self-service capabilities came into existence.

Instead of being just informational or transactional, B2B portals today are more and more service-oriented and value-driven. Whether they’re geared towards customers or partners, modern B2B portals are built to provide a single digital touchpoint for stakeholders to conduct their business with the company.


The benefit of a single digital touchpoint

The goal of a single digital touchpoint means a transformative project that brings together all the interactions a customer or a partner might have with your company. The starting point for many of the companies investing in these initiatives is the fact that they serve their customers in silos – different business areas within the company have their own touchpoints and services.

This in turn means a fragmented and heterogeneous customer journey/experience where services have their own logins and passwords and their own views of the customer relationship. This means that companies can’t create a 360-degree view of the customer, let alone act on that view.

But customers and partners expect a harmonized customer journey that clearly communicates that the company knows who they’re servicing, selling to, or working within a value chain. This requires that B2B companies are relevant, personal, and striving to provide the best possible customer experience.

Key business drivers

The key business drivers for modern-day B2B portals can be categorized into three separate high-level goal themes: Customer experience, efficiency, and growth.

1. Customer experience

Today, customer experience is perceived as a critical factor when it comes to making it on the market, retaining customers, increasing their share of wallet, or deriving the most value from a value chain partnership. Customer experience in B2B is not dictated by face-to-face interactions in the way it used to be. Even in more traditional industries, such as the steel industry, a growing share of the customer journey is digital.

And as mentioned, customers and partners in B2B now expect that the companies who engage with them know who they are, what’s the nature of their engagement with the company, and what they want now and might need in the future. Companies need to be relevant.

It’s not a coincidence that many of the industry forerunner companies highlight the goal of “the best customer experience” in their strategies.

In practice, a better customer experience can be as simple as more convenient tools for ordering and interacting with the company or presenting information and data in digital formats – in other words helping the customer to conclude their work in the best possible way.

2. Efficiency

Efficiency comes in many forms. You might have noticed that a lot of B2C companies, especially in the finance and insurance industries, have invested in directing the majority of consumers into digital self-service channels. This means investing both in building up the data and understanding of an individual consumer as well as in the ways of providing them with what they need – whether it’s just information for troubleshooting via a chatbot or an easy way of renewing a subscription. Consumers get what they want without the company having to resort to human intervention. That’s efficiency. 

The same rings true in B2B as well. We’re seeing a lot of companies aiming to direct the majority of their customers to service themselves. This enables a company’s salesforce or support organization to allocate more time to customers that require it – typically the ones that are the most valuable.

Efficiency also comes through automating processes such as order processing and streamlining processes between value chain actors. Having all or most of the interactions between parties through a digital touchpoint also enables companies to efficiently gather masses of data that, in turn, enables efficient, data-driven decision-making.

3. Growth

Growth is the thing most companies are undoubtedly after. As with efficiency, there are multiple ways of achieving this. Ecommerce plays a pivotal role in the internationalization and/or direct-to-consumer strategies for many companies. Rarely is providing the means to buy enough though. 

After-sales, or what happens after accomplishing the initial sale, is crucial and doesn’t limit itself to delivery either. What’s valuable is how a company services their customers after the delivery. Depending on the industry and products sold, this can mean different things. In B2B this can mean providing installation services, handling warranties, providing user support and user training, and repair/maintenance services.

As mentioned, companies typically have several systems in their digital landscape to handle different parts of the customer journey. When we’re talking about bringing every interaction into one digital touch point we’re talking about portals.

One excellent example of how a portal can act as a pivotal element in successfully entering and growing through new markets is iLOQ. iLOQ operates sales through their 1600 partner-strong dealer-partner network. At the core of their successful collaboration with their partners is the iLOQ Portal, which enables the efficient onboarding of new partners globally and – more importantly – supports the partners in selling and servicing the iLOQ product portfolio.

Again, we’re talking about providing a single touchpoint for the entirety of the collaboration between iLOQ and their dealer partners, contributing to all three stated business drivers: customer experience, efficiency, and growth.

Taking the step towards a B2B portal

The portal initiatives we’re seeing are typically neither small in scale nor simple in nature. We’re talking about initiatives that typically arch over the whole organization – including different business areas as well as different functions. Consequently, the list of different internal stakeholders is a long one. Strong change leadership is crucial for these projects to succeed.

Yet, things like complexity or size aren’t stopping industry front-runners from moving forward with these initiatives.

We’ve been the partner of choice for many global companies realizing their portal vision. If building a portal is a goal in your organization as well, we’ll gladly discuss how to best move forward.