Authentication in B2B E-Commerce

Authentication, or user identity validation, can sometimes get a bad rap. In an era of “We need it yesterday” B2B buyers need to procure items quickly and so they provide their personal information for easier access. But they also want personalized experiences. So let’s shift the narrative, and their online ordering expectations, from “we’re fast” to “we’re efficient, and offer unique B2B experiences tailored to you.”

B2B E-commerce will reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the United States by 2023, according to Forrester Research. Those companies that bring great, personalized user experiences to their online customers will get a better fair share of those dollars.   Anyone can browse a website anonymously but offering an authenticated view for registered users will unlock the potential of valued experiences for your customer as well as growth and loyalty to your business.  


Value Creation for B2B Customers

Your organization, and your data specifically, do the heavy lifting when tailoring the procurement experience of a B2B buyer, whose transactions can be lengthy and complex. When users create a profile, they can reap the benefit of data-driven results and simplify their work in these ways:

Narrowing search and finding availability: The burden of navigating thousands of products can be alleviated with authentication and customer context.  High-volume search results become a sub-set of choices, based on buyers’ past purchase behaviors. This reduces time and increases accuracy. In addition, the buyer’s product choice may be available, but not in time to meet specific job demands or from a desired location. It is the authenticated user who gets access to real-time inventory levels from locations closest to a preferred pick-up location or in some cases, closest to the actual job site. Moreover, B2B personalization is also about managing through customer terms & conditions, not influencing a buyer’s personal preferences. There may be restraints on shipping products to certain destinations, and products may not be delivered via certain carriers due to freight and route constraints. Inform the product selection process upfront and you’ll save a buyer valuable time.

Detailed Information: Authentication gives users access to customer-specific part numbers, pricing, discounts, or specialized services. While some of that information may be available to anonymous users, the merchandising of content may be more personalized to an authenticated user. Does your customer habitually pull an MSDS safety sheet when landing on a product detail page? He or she might see that information at the top of the page as an authenticated user. And that’s value when time is money.

Security and Privacy: At a more granular level, your customers may have multiple employees utilizing your website for procurement, but not all employees need the same level of access to product data or pricing.  With an authenticated view, users can be assigned user roles with varying access and permissions, based on their roles in the buying process. One authenticated user may be able to directly submit orders on behalf of their organization while another user may be granted permission to submit a request for a purchase.  This makes it easier for them and you.

Approvals: Since not all employees may be entitled to complete the purchase, personalized procurement focuses on gaining approvals in line with employee-specific spending allowances. Personalization in B2B gets required approvals faster and reinforces the value of deep buyer and seller relationships that organizations have built over decades.


The Virtuous Cycle – Value Creation for You

The benefits of authentication can flow back to your organization too. Authentication allows you to collect data and create digital profiles of customers. Users are no longer ambiguous IP addresses browsing your website, forcing you to hypothesize on the steps they take.  

Clarity and Specificity; Authentication provides you with information on a buyer’s type of organization, their industry, their role within their organization and countless other data points that can then be used to tailor your website to their specific wants and needs. Do you find that you are attracting a specific buyer type? That may be good business intelligence for segmentation.

Marketing Effectiveness: Authentication gives a competitive edge for prospecting or creating a loyalty loop, as well. When users authenticate, you can leverage that data to tailor content, products, and services to better meet their needs. Analytics may show their choices along the customer journey or buying cycle, and that information can make your organization smarter. Do you have a group of customers that may be price insensitive? You could be missing out on margin by offering discounts too soon, one of the biggest mistakes that ecommerce clients make. But knowing the right time, and even if it’s necessary, is one high-value benefit of authentication.


A Successful Case Study from Xngage

Xngage was privileged to work with a $2Billion supplier who completed a digital transformation of their website, helping with both buyer and seller interactions to create value for customers. Xngage helped to:

·        create a modern, intuitive design for conversion

·        personalize user experiences, from customer-specific order guides to tailored promotions

·        store, update, access and provide real-time product data to buyers and internal teams

·        handle complex transactions, e.g., large product lists, multiple locations, and checkout flexibility

·        integrate business intelligence for helping the Client’s sales and service teams


With these changes, the Client’s customers could quickly and effectively procure items in real time, in their desired geographic region, from the distribution point they needed, with up to 1000 items in one order. And as authenticated users, they will have that information stored within their customer-specific order guides for their next buy.  The sales and customer service teams will also be able to chart their sales history and have solid information available for any follow-up calls.


Have we convinced you yet in the power of authentication? Does our interpretation of “personalization” in B2B resonate with your needs? Contact us to discuss your project needs.

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