One of the biggest misconceptions about B2B commerce is that it should mimic exactly what we’re used to as consumers. While there are some aspects you want to carry over, copying and pasting the consumer buying experience to the B2B space can lead to poor initial sales results and a bad return on investment.
For example, building a pure-play e-commerce website—where customers add products to a shopping cart and proceed to checkout—is simply not the best way for many B2B companies to start their digital sales journey. This approach often requires a heavy upfront investment without any guaranteed results, relying on untested assumptions.
So what’s the alternative? Start with a quote cart. Your company will see faster time to value with ultralight upfront costs, all while prioritizing what your customers really want.
In this guide, we outline what exactly a quote cart is, how it works, and the benefits it brings to both your customers and your business. Let’s dive in.
How the quote cart works
The quote cart combines the familiarity of online shopping experiences with the complex reality of B2B commerce. It’s the best of both worlds: buyers add products to their quote carts the same way they would add products to a shopping cart. But instead of checking out, they fill in the information to submit a request for quote (RFQ).
In other words, you replace “add to cart” with “request a quote”
With HeadQ’s quote cart, you can keep tabs on all your quote requests through the system’s quote view. You’ll stay on top of things with instant notifications for new RFQs, ensuring you never miss an opportunity.
The best part? Adding a quote cart to your existing website takes just five minutes—no coding or software installation needed—and it’s free. In a couple of hours, you’ll be ready to start marketing your products and services.
While traditional e-commerce solutions can be expensive and complex, the quote cart is easy to use and cost-effective. It’s a simple first step towards digital sales, and you can always add more self-service options down the line when you’re ready.
Leila Koistinen, Co-Founder at Coco Invest, shares the benefits: “What I love about HeadQ is that we didn’t have to create a separate website for our shop, sparing us months of effort in building the store and driving traffic there. Instead, we’ve been able to leverage our existing traffic, turning it into a robust source of high-quality quote requests.”
Why your business needs a quote cart
1. Provide a smooth and efficient buying experience
Everyone knows how an online shopping cart works. The quote cart gives your buyers the same familiar shopping experience they’re used to, but in the B2B space. At the end of the day, B2B buyers are people, too. Whether they’re buying HVAC equipment for their company or groceries for the week, they want an easy transaction experience.
With a quote cart, customers can browse through your products, compare options, and choose exactly what they want—just like they would on any e-commerce site. The only difference is that instead of directly making a purchase, they request a quote.
2. Give buyers more autonomy
Today’s B2B buyers appreciate—and expect—the convenience of self service. In fact, 83% of B2B buyers prefer to shop online, and buyers report making lower-quality purchase decisions when the process was primarily led by sales reps. Simply put, no one wants to book a meeting to find out pricing.
The quote cart is a powerful tool since it allows customers to buy on their own terms, wherever and whenever they want. If your buyer is in a different time zone or their working hours don’t align with your sales team’s availability, they can still request a quote when they need to. This flexibility not only empowers buyers, but also streamlines the whole sales process. Plus, your customers will get a great impression of your brand.
Sanna Kärsämänoja, Director of Communications and Marketing at Täsmä, explains how their customers took advantage of flexible buying opportunities: “Customers can build their own packages online at their convenience and buy when it’s most convenient for them. 25% of the orders came outside office hours and during weekends when we were not able to serve our customers.”
What’s more, once your customers start using your quote cart, it’s easier to introduce the next version of self-service tools like B2B checkout, customer-specific pricing, and more.
3. Make it easy to buy complex and customizable products
The world of B2B buying can be complex. Your products might be highly customizable, making it impossible for your customers to buy directly online. Fortunately, the quote cart supports even the most intricate, configurable products, while reducing complexity in the sales process.
HeadQ’s intuitive quote request system, for example, accommodates complex pricing structures like location-based pricing. Your customers can easily browse online and configure the products they want according to their precise requirements, then request a price quote.
4. From cart to quote: Respond to RFQs in no time
Tired of ridiculously long email exchanges when sending customers quotes? The quote cart makes it easy to respond to quote requests in just 30 seconds, as all the essential information is right there in the RFQ.
Consider this scenario: A buyer is interested in your products, but needs the green light from higher-ups before making a purchase. Once your sales rep shares a formal quote, the buyer can quickly move forward with the purchase, avoiding any unnecessary delays.
Companies like Presto, for example, have sped up the buying cycle, improved their closing rate, and made their sales reps’ lives easier with the quote cart. Tarja Vilmi, Head of Product Management & Marketing at Presto, explains: “The Quote Cart functionality significantly enhances the customer experience, affording buyers greater autonomy, while simultaneously providing us with the opportunity to structure product pricing to our advantage.”
5. Reduce costly errors
Say goodbye to pricing mix-ups, compatibility issues, and lost emails that often result in costly mistakes. The quote cart tackles these issues by providing a structured platform for RFQs, gathering all the information you need at once.
When to use a quote cart
1. You don’t want to show your prices publicly
If you work in a competitive industry, sharing all your prices online can comprise your negotiating tactics. On the other hand, you can hinder your growth potential by keeping your products fully hidden.
This is where the quote cart comes in: it lets you introduce self-service options to your B2B website without needing to reveal your pricing. As customers add items to their quote cart, they progress further along their buying journey.
And you decide how much pricing transparency you want to give—you can still show pricing for certain products as you see fit.
2. Your prices fluctuate
Do you work in an industry where your prices vary by day or week due to changing material costs or market fluctuations? Wholesale price inflation, for example, rose by 0.7% in August 2023—the biggest increase in more than a year. These price swings significantly affect your product costs.
With the quote cart, buyers can submit RFQs and receive up-to-date quotes, allowing them to make informed decisions aligned with the ever-changing market landscape.
3. You want to strike a balance between personalized service and self-service
Enterprises often need a balance between personalized sales assistance and self-service. Customers should be able to make routine purchases themselves online, but for more complex deals, your sales reps should step in to make the process easier.
The good news is you don’t have to choose between a fully self-service or rep-assisted model for your business. A quote cart lets your sales reps handle larger deals, and lets customers reordering familiar products serve themselves.
Embrace the future of B2B buying
If your sales reps are spending too much time answering emails, contact forms, or phone calls to give price quotes, you can replace this manual work with a quote cart.
By bridging the gap between self-service and rep-assisted models, the quote cart is reshaping the way B2B companies handle their buying process.