Even though the B2B users that comprise an account are regarded collectively as a business, your top business priority is the convenience and satisfaction of the individuals. After all, business interactions happen between people, and people make business decisions and buy products behind the technological curtain. Prioritizing user management allows you to kill two birds with one stone: improving user experience and strengthening your customer relationships.
So, what exactly is user management in B2B? What does it involve? How does it work?
Before we get on, it’s important to understand the difference between B2B and B2C users because good user management involves accommodating the user’s decision-making process.
In B2C, an account typically belongs to a single user who makes their own decisions and shops for personal needs or pleasure.
In B2B, on the contrary, the account structure is complex and involves multiple business units and individuals; decision-making is systematic, and shopping is someone’s job.
What Is User Management in B2B?
User management in B2B ecommerce is the process of creating and managing user accounts. This includes setting up user roles and permissions, as well as managing account settings. User management is a critical feature for businesses, as it allows them to control who has access to their data and what they can do with it.
Difference between User and Account Management
Users are individuals who can access the platform on any level. An account, on the other hand, may contain multiple users.
In B2B, you may notice that the terms user and account management are often used interchangeably.
In this article, we’ll be talking about both individual users of accounts and accounts collectively. However, the primary focus of this article will be on managing individual users within business accounts.
Differences between User Management in B2C and B2B
At first glance, it would seem that there aren’t many differences between B2B and B2C user management, there are a lot of factors that are profoundly different.
User management in B2C
User management in B2B
Users and customers are synonymous.
The business designs, sells, and interacts with the customer, who is both paying and using the product, within the available UX/UI.
It’s extremely unlikely that the customer’s expenditure is controlled by a third party.
Users can skip the registration process.
There’s no account granularity.
There are no workflows to approve.
The buying process is short and straightforward.
While individual B2B users might be end-users of products or services, they are rarely the customers.
A business account in B2B doesn’t belong to an individual but the entire organization and is managed by multiple users.
Registration is mandatory. Additional vetting might be necessary.
In B2B, user roles are granular and restricted by job responsibilities.
The procurement process involves multiple parties and several approval stages and can take a long time.
In the next few sections, we’ll go over the entire process of user management in B2B, including user registration, approval workflows, and permission management.
B2B eCommerce User Registration
The user management starts with registration. In contrast to the straightforward B2C registration process (that sometimes can be bypassed altogether), B2B registration is more complex and may involve several steps, including some performed offline.
A business user is more than just an abstract entity; they are a business partner who must be verified and onboarded.
B2B user registration might look like this:
After a company submits registration details to a B2B ecommerce platform, a qualification and verification process begins. The seller’s representative calls back to confirm the details and asks for more information to identify the client (or to ensure their solvency).
After verification, the client is onboarded as a business partner. The user who initiated the request is identified as an administrator with user privileges to add other authorized users.
The administrator logs into the business portal and creates user profiles for individual users and business units such as teams, departments, branches, and so on. The authorized users can be assigned different roles and have varying access levels and permissions in accordance with their job functions and responsibilities.
Administrators (or anyone else with relevant permissions) can create order templates and manage orders and other users (edit user details and add or remove users).
Approval Workflows in a B2B eCommerce Platform
An approval workflow is a standard business process that requires responsible individuals to sign off on a purchase at a certain stage.
A typical approval workflow will consist of multiple touchpoints with checks from different stakeholders.
The number of stakeholders is often directly proportional to the risk and value of the purchase.
Your B2B ecommerce platform should allow administrators (managers) of buying organizations to configure customizable approval rules for users to appraise and approve orders based on order value, the number of items, shipping costs, and other criteria specific to the customer’s business.
Including customizable workflows into your B2B ecommerce platform is a significant step forward to an all-encompassing self-service portal, which is a great way to increase customer satisfaction and reduce the collective effort required to control the workflow offline.
You can also add other features like push notifications to speed up the approval process eliminating barriers and reducing the time it takes for customers to order.
Self-Service Portal Best Practices in B2B eCommerce
Six Steps of a Simple Order Approval Workflow in B2B eCommerce
A simple order approval workflow may include the following six steps:
A user places SKUs in the cart and proceeds to check out.
The user enters shipping and payment details on the checkout page and hits ‘Submit purchase order.’
AI determines if the order qualifies for approval based on an assessment of value, number of SKUs, and shipping costs.
Approvers are notified by email/push notification.
Approvers act on the notification and approve or reject the order.
In case of successful approval by all involved parties, the order is submitted.
Customers should be able to specify the rules and conditions that trigger additional stages of approvals. For instance, if the order value exceeds $15,000 or the number of items exceeds 100 SKUs, the people responsible for order management receive a notification for an additional check.
Each rule might need its own thresholds and approvers, for example:
If the value of the purchase order is less than $10,000, it is automatically approved.
If the value of the purchase order is more than $10,000 but less than $15,000, it must be approved by the purchasing manager.
If the value of the purchase order exceeds $15,000, it needs to be approved by both the purchasing and the financial manager.
Your B2B ecommerce platform needs to account for such granularity and allow account administrators to set up rules and approvers from their dashboards without manual intervention from your developer team.
Access Levels & Permissions in a B2B eCommerce Platform
Permission (access) management allows administrators to define what users can do within their accounts and grant or revoke permissions to perform specific actions.
Because businesses tend to have multiple decision-makers and users with varying job responsibilities, it’s crucial to allow access to information on a need-to-know basis. For example, business partners may prefer some user groups to view certain pages but not edit them. Similarly, your business partner may prefer to limit access to catalogs to warehouse users who do not have catalog-related roles.
The B2B ecommerce platform must allow administrators to configure user roles and grant or revoke permissions.
Typically, B2B ecommerce solutions have predetermined roles that can be further customized to reflect the tasks users perform within the ecommerce application.
For example, Virto Commerce permission management starts with assigning roles to users, where roles are just a collection of permissions. This way, a single role can be assigned to multiple users, or multiple roles can be assigned to a single user. Again, depending on the ecommerce solution of your choice, the permission structure may vary.
Possible permissions may include:
Managing accounts (permission to create, remove, or edit accounts).
Managing roles (permission to create, remove, or edit roles).
Managing orders (permission to create, delete, or edit orders).
Managing catalogs (permission to create, delete, or edit catalogs), categories, and SKUs.
Managing price lists (permission to create, delete, or edit price lists); managing item pricing and import jobs (permission to import price lists).
Because the customer lifetime in B2B is longer and transaction values are much higher, there’s fierce competition for clients. To stay ahead of the market game, your business needs to provide a better user experience than your competitors. Your platform should allow your customers to manage routine tasks independently, while salespeople and developers deal with bigger issues.
The user experience design must overcome the critical steps in the buyer’s journey. Your B2B ecommerce platform must make it easy for customers to self-service and place orders without getting stuck on their way to checkout.
A Few Takeaways on How to Improve User Management
Providing a good user experience and allowing your customers to manage their users according to their internal policies is a dramatic step forward in doing B2B ecommerce the right way.
Design an easy and straightforward user registration process
Design an experience that works for each type of user (accountant, operator, logistics manager, etc.)
Design for multiple jurisdictions and business granularity (department, branch, etc.)
Design seamless approval workflows and interactions between approvers
Allow users to manage access levels and permissions
Give customers a way to manage orders and reorders
Needless to say, solutions need to be adapted on a case-by-case basis. Because of the diversity of possible scenarios, your B2B ecommerce platform needs to be flexible and extensible. Virto Commerce is both. You can design any module on top of the standard package.
Virto Commerce is an open-source ecommerce platform that’s based on Microsoft technologies. It is cloud-based and API-driven, so it is scalable and flexible by default.
Virto’s headless nature allows businesses to extend their digital ecosystem with multiple channels and tailor them to specific market requirements. The solution’s modular and composable architecture allows IT teams to create new functional components quickly and integrate them seamlessly into the ecommerce platform.
If you are interested to learn more about how Virto Commerce can help your business achieve outstanding user management and customer experience, you can schedule a demo now. Our experts are always ready to help!
What are the benefits of good user management in B2B ecommerce?
There are many benefits of good user management in B2B ecommerce, including improved security, compliance, efficiency, and customer experience.
For example, with user management, businesses can control who has access to data and what they can do with it. This helps to improve security and prevent unauthorized access. User management also helps businesses to meet compliance requirements through tracking user activity and auditing logs. With user management, businesses provide a better customer experience; customers can manage their accounts and incorporate their internal policies independently and seek help only when absolutely necessary.
What is user registration B2B ecommerce?
User registration is the process of registering and onboarding new users. A user registration system is typically a form or a profile page that requests information to create a web-based user profile or account.
User registration can be either required or optional. Required user registration is when businesses require users to create an account before they can access data. Optional user registration is when businesses allow users to access data without creating an account.
User registration can be either public or private. Public user registration is when businesses allow anyone to create an account. Private user registration is when businesses restrict account creation to only certain users.
User registration can be used for authentication, authorization, or both. Authentication is when businesses use accounts to verify user identity. Authorization is when businesses use accounts to control user access.
User registration can be used to store user information, such as name, email address, phone number, and so on. This information can be used for marketing or customer support.
What is an access management B2B ecommerce?
Access management is a data governance process used to ensure that the right users get access to an appropriate system or information while invalid users are prohibited from accessing them.
Access management in B2B ecommerce allows administrators to grant or revoke user access to information and actions, as well as define what users can do within their accounts.
What is an approval workflow B2B ecommerce?
An approval workflow is a logical flow of activities to process data that pauses until the designated individual approves the data. Automated approval workflows can speed up the process, reduce bottlenecks, and increase productivity at work.
An approval workflow in B2B ecommerce is a sequence of tasks with appropriate controls to ensure the accuracy of a specific business process and the security of shared data. eCommerce approvals can be set up, changed, and refined by an administrator or another user with an appropriate level of permission.