The checkout flow is the most critical part of any e-commerce implementation. It is directly responsible for driving sales and contributing to the business’s bottom line.
Modern B2B customers do not have the patience for a confusing checkout process involving multiple pricing details and a tiring registration process. The checkout flow must be streamlined to provide a distraction and interruption-free experience.
In B2B digital commerce, customers usually need to register before buying from the store. That is especially true when a credit check needs to be performed, a contract signed, and pricing negotiated. Thus, no checkout for guest customers became a default approach. At the same time, it is proven by multiple studies that forcing customers to sign up for an account decreases conversion rates. Anonymous checkouts are especially important for first-time customers.
In most cases, B2B merchants can find a middle ground and support guest checkouts by limiting the site’s functionality. That can be achieved by limiting the range of products and payment methods available to non-registered users.
Although guest checkouts improve the user experience for first-time customers, there are obvious drawbacks for merchants. Email addresses can only be used for shipping notifications, not marketing. That makes sending customers your newsletter, promotional materials, and shopping cart notifications more difficult. But these shortcomings are negated by the fact that a faster checkout equates to more sales, and if you provide great value and a good user experience to customers, they will return.
Having guest checkout does not exclude an opportunity of getting customers to register. After winning customer trust with the first order, it will be easier to convince a customer to register to get better pricing and payment terms.
For registered B2B customers, shipping and billing information is usually known and could be prefilled to simplify the checkout. Depending on the role, a buyer may not even have a right to modify it.
Available payment and shipping methods can be buyer-specific or contractually defined. We will cover this in more detail in the Payment section of the course.
Many B2B buyers want to specify the required delivery date to fit into their production schedule.
When designing the checkout flow for your business, you may need to include additional fields to collect extra data or additional steps in the checkout flow. The ecommerce system may need to make additional calls to other internal systems to verify customer credit, register an order in ERP, check available inventory, and calculate the shipping cost or expected production time for make-to-order products.
Sometimes, customers want to split their order and deliver it to multiple locations. That is very common in B2B commerce when a buyer is placing one order for multiple business locations or requesting delivery on different dates. This process is called Split Shipment or Split Delivery. A customer should have the option to add an additional delivery address and then decide which items to go where.