How to streamline B2B orders without hiring a six-figure engineer

Nearly every brand we partner with comes to us with the same issue: they often have a burgeoning wholesale channel and need a way to streamline order placement and invoicing. 

We’ve found that merchants often want to consolidate their operations using Shopify. However, many up-and-coming brands lack the balance sheet to hire an expensive engineer or a dedicated team to build out a custom vendor website.

When a brand comes to our team at Streamlined with this issue, we typically offer three pieces of advice to begin streamlining their B2B workflow.

1) Focus on your customer experience

Before kicking off the automation process, consider your customers and how they prefer to place orders. It may be worth polling a handful of customers first to see what’s the easiest way for them to get orders going. Based on their responses, you can then direct automation efforts accordingly.

We’ve worked with several merchants that have a large number of customers who still prefer to send an email. No matter how easy it is to self-checkout online, the customers prefer email. 

In turn, the merchant creates B2B orders in Shopify based on each email. If your customers are open to self-serve models, there are a number of ways to streamline order creation within Shopify.

2) Get scrappy before you invest in code

There are plenty of no-code solutions available to help you get started with very little overhead investment. Workflow platforms like Pipedream and Zapier are teeming with integrations. 

At Streamlined we’re particularly big fans of Alloy, which offers a way for tools to connect with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. 

Alloy’s tooling product integrates directly with Shopify so your data is always in sync, invoices are up to date, and every action taken is automatically linked to a Shopify order. 

Critically, Alloy enables you to customize individual workflows while exporting data dynamically. For instance, you can automate Typeform submissions to create direct Shopify orders.

3) Don’t be afraid to innovate

There are a range of creative ways to allow vendors to place customer orders through your store without requiring unnecessary time spent navigating it. 

One creative approach came from Will McQuain at Magic Mind. The Magic Mind team generated QR codes for each wholesale product link and shared it via their price sheet. The store owners wanting to purchase more inventory could scan the QR code from the price sheet. 

Each QR code takes the customer to an otherwise unlisted product page on Magic Mind where the customer can see the wholesale price, place the order and pay by Invoice. 

QR codes allow you to track and analyze data of the scans in real-time. From a B2B re-ordering lens, codes are a prime opportunity to decrease time and effort spent restocking bulk orders.

Moreover, leveraging QR codes allows repurchasing on the spot, saving both you and your vendors time previously spent going through an entirely new reordering process. In tandem, you’ll be able to simplify your invoicing workflow while boosting B2B transaction volume.

Linking Orders to Invoicing

Once you’ve streamlined your B2B order placement workflow in Shopify, Streamlined can help you seamlessly automate your invoicing, payments, and reconciliation process. 

The average SMB has nearly $80k in unpaid receivables, and invoices can quickly snowball and become a collections problem. In similar fashion to streamlining B2B orders, merchants are often directed towards expensive engineers to create a customized invoicing solution in-house.

Streamlined solves this problem head on by automating invoicing and payment workflows for brands, a process that typically requires a team of 4 to accomplish. While traditional reconciliation is useful, dunning and reminders through the Streamlined platform is even better.

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