Self-Service Everything, Raising the Bar on the B2B Experience

Buying what you want online with a few clicks isn’t just for individual consumers anymore. With the consumerization of IT, business-to-business (B2B) customers—including the world’s largest companies—are increasingly expecting more self-service options for fast, frictionless transactions.

That’s why Dell Digital’s Global eCommerce Experience organization has kicked off a three-year effort focused on making everything we can self-service across our ecommerce sites, including Premier, one of the leading business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce sites in the world.

Premier serves thousands of commercial partners and customers—from medium-size businesses to multinational companies—transacting billions of dollars in annual business with Dell. Some use a commercial ecommerce portal and others transact with Dell via an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, i.e. an auto procurement system such as SAP or Oracle.

We recently launched self-service capabilities to enable these customers to create their own standard configurations for Dell products, self-sign-up to create a Premier page for their own store and the ability to retrieve quotes online 24/7 via a self-serve Quote-to-Order solution. And that is only the beginning.

A new generation of B2B expectations

It used to be that B2B customers, particularly those that use procurement systems to purchase IT products online, had extremely low expectations when it came to their buying experience. They were used to having to deal with sales representatives to onboard new services, upgrade security or create product configurations. Delays were part of the process. They didn’t really expect a stellar customer experience.

The dawn of human-centric IT service management software, however, began to raise the bar on the B2B buying experience. More recently, B2B tapped into the ever-escalating, user-experience demands of the online consumer market for fast, easy, seamless consumption. B2B consumers now want more.

Driving this new phenomenon is the fact that many next-generation leaders of these commercial businesses—the Gen Zers and millennials—are accustomed to easy web consumption in their personal lives and want their business transactions to follow suit. They don’t want to talk on the phone to conduct basic B2B transactions. They just want to be able to do it themselves.

Dell Digital’s Global eCommerce Experience is all for fulfilling that demand for our B2B customers. We want to take self-service ecommerce to the next level, to not only help customers drive ease of doing business with us but also help us achieve efficiency and speed.

Standard configuration liberation

One of the first Premier transactions we tackled in our self-service push was Standard Configurations, the process by which companies customize the features and options they want on often-bought, customer-validated products at negotiated prices.

Previously, a company would have to call a representative to establish new standard configurations spelling out the features and options for, say, laptops to be available for a given project team to consume. The multi-step process to get a quote and then get a new standard configuration added to their dedicated Premier page was complex and time-consuming.

In response to customer demand for a more seamless experience, the Global eCommerce Experience team used Dell’s agile methodology to develop a self-service solution that eliminates all manual touchpoints between the customer, sales rep and the Premier account team. Instead, Premier users can create standard configurations on their own using a simple online experience to select the products, features and default options from the Dell System Catalog. This fully automated creation and validation process provides standards ready to purchase within minutes.

Premier launched a pilot for self-creation of standard configurations for about 1200 U.S. customers earlier this year and will be working to expand this capability to additional segments of customers globally. These configurations are extensively used in Premier.

More self-service milestones

We have also successfully launched Premier page self-onboarding in the U.S., allowing existing offline or new customers interested in our ecommerce capabilities to create a Premier store on their own. An automated validation and identification process eliminates all manual touchpoints and speeds up the onboarding and ultimately shopping experience.

To get real-time information on B2B orders, our new order status tool for Premier lets users track and manage Dell Technologies orders using self-service capabilities and visibility via a single customizable view.

In 2018, the eCommerce Experience team created a B2B self-onboarding solution that lets commercial buyers connect their procurement systems to Dell’s product catalog in minutes instead of the weeks and months previously required.

The eCommerce Experience team plans to develop many more self-service features over the next three years. Our end goal is to enable a large percentage of our commercial run rate business to be conducted completely online without the customer having to seek human intervention.

The idea is to have our B2B customers talk to a representative to establish an initial contract and then be able to handle their orders themselves via self-service, either through our website or through our electronic data interchange (EDI) and application programming interface (API) platforms. (See my previous blog on our API strategy.)

Using the power of modern Dell-on-Dell solutions and human-centric design, our teams are able to make rapid progress on delighting ecommerce customers and letting them focus on their core. Our vision of self-service everything is central to our goal of furthering ease of doing business while providing more efficiency and speed.

Find out more about how Dell is reimaging how IT does business at Dell Technologies: Our Digital Transformation.

Harsh Acharya

About the Author: Harsh Acharya

Harsh is responsible for driving vision, strategy, and execution for Dell Digital’s Global eCommerce Experience organization. The mission of the organization is to drive customer centric and data driven capabilities at every touchpoint in the customer journey while transforming technology and processes to increase the speed of innovation for Dell’s Consumer and B2B customers across the globe. Prior to this role, Harsh led engineering and product management functions for, where he drove expansion of the new responsive platform as well as new shopping, checkout, loyalty, and payment capabilities across multiple regions. In his previous roles, Harsh led engineering and product management functions for numerous products across Dell’s digital commerce experiences. Harsh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Gujarat University in India and a Master’s degree in Information Systems from Texas A&M University Harsh lives in Austin with his wife. They love traveling around the world, trying new cuisines, and learning about new cultures.