Web Portal Types: Definition and examples
What is a web portal?
A web portal provides organisations with a secure, centralised platform to enable its customers, trading partners, suppliers, and employees to access, organise and interact with information and documentation that is relevant to them. Web portals can be designed to meet specific business requirements and cater for end-user needs such as providing training and onboarding documentation or invoices with payment processing capability.
Web portals can be grouped into either horizontal or vertical portals. Horizontal portals provide a diverse range of information and services that are relevant to a large audience. Vertical portals focus on specific business and user requirements.
By understanding the different types of web portals, you will be able to determine which web portal solution best meets your business objectives.
Why use a web portal?
We often get asked why do I need a web portal? The need for your business to develop or deploy a web portal template may be sparked by a specific process bottleneck or an increased customer demand for self-service access to information. Key drivers can vary depending on the type of business and its individual requirements. The key indicators that you should evaluate include:
- Multi-location offices or premises e.g. warehouses, distribution centres, national or international offices
- Remote workers or field-based operatives
- Increase in demand from customers or suppliers for documentation and information
- The need for external contribution to data and existing processes to improve the management of suppliers and retail partners
- The need to provide scalable IT licensing options across the business
- To increase the visibility into critical information and data to improve management decision-making
- The need for additional modules to existing business systems without changing existing services
What are the different types of web portals?
When identifying the right web portal software for your business you will need to consider the type of web portal that is most suited to your requirements. This includes considering web portal users and their needs and planning the web portal development and implementation processes. As mentioned above, web portals can be either horizontal or vertical portals. Each has its own specific purpose that can be used to transform the way you serve information or documentation to a user.
Vertical web portals
Vertical web portals are often designed to aid a specific business function and can become the focal point for organisations to effectively communicate with their employees, customers, or trading partners. Common business functions and applications that are often used alongside a vertical portal include ERP and CRM systems, warehouse and distribution management, HR, accounting and service management.
Vertical portals may have the ability to aggregate data from other services or applications, however, this is not their primary focus.
Vertical web portals simplify the way specific documentation or information is served to the end user. A vertical web portal will provide both internal and external users to your organisation with the ability to access, modify and contribute to processes within that given application. This means that implementing a customer portal will enable your customers or suppliers to quickly read, add or amend their details, track their order status, or arrange payments online.
Horizontal web portals
Horizontal web portals are designed to serve users with aggregated data through a single interface. Depending on the use case and requirement, this aggregated data may be obtained from one or multiple applications.
Horizontal web portals can improve user productivity by allowing users to read, write or merge information with multiple applications by removing the need for secure logins. A horizontal portal example may include Google, where many users can easily access and perform a web search, access email, view maps and edit documents. In a business case, a horizontal portal may be the preferred option when compiling management reports from multiple business systems such as month-end reports or sales team KPIs.
Types of web portals with examples
Web portals provide you with the ability to bring people and information from multiple sources together enabling different departments to improve communication and enhance customer and trading partner relationships. Common web portal examples include B2B portals and B2C portals such as:
1. Customer Portal
A customer portal provides customers with direct access to information, documentation, additional services, and support. A customer portal is designed to improve customer experience and satisfaction by offering self-service capabilities and a centralised platform for interacting with your organisation. When deploying a customer portal, you will need customers to create an account so that they can access, process, and edit the required information and resources. Customers will be able to:
- Account management: Update their details including address, telephone number and user preferences
- Order status updates: Track order status, view order history and access shipping information
- Support and troubleshooting: Access a knowledgebase or FAQ section, raise a support ticket or engage in a live chat
- Billing and payments: Access billing and process payments, manage billing preferences and download invoices
- Programmes and initiatives: Access rewards or loyalty programmes
2. Returns management portal
A returns portal, also known as a returns management portal, allows your customers to initiate and manage product returns or exchanges. This enables businesses to streamline and automate the returns management process to reduce manual administration costs. The common features and functionality in a returns management portal include:
- AReturn initiation: Allow customers to initiate the returns process including; items for return, the reason for return, desired resolution (refund, exchange etc.)
- Return approvals: Automatically generate a return authorisation and track the return status
- Shipping labels: The ability for the customer to print a return shipping label
- Tracking and status updates: Allow customers to track the progress of their return through access to the portal or automated email and SMS notifications.
- Refund and exchange processing: Facilitate the processing of refunds or exchange processes with automated status updates
- Communication: Enable customers to communicate with a customer service representative
3. Product Information Management Portal
A product information management portal, often referred to as a PIM provides Product Managers within an organisation with a centralised platform to manage its product catalogue and distribute product data across various marketplace, sales channels, and touchpoints. Its primary focus is to optimise product information management processes to ensure data accuracy and catalogue consistency. A PIMs core features and functionality include:
- Data centralisation: A single source of all product information including data from multiple sources such as suppliers, manufacturers, internal departments, and external systems into a centralised database.
- Data enrichment: Ability to enhance product data through workflows including editing descriptions, specifications, images, and videos. A PIM will enable you to categorise products, manage variants and define relationships between products.
- Data quality: A PIM system can help you to safeguard data quality and governance and ensure consistency across all sales channels and marketplaces. A PIM can include data validation, error detection and data governance workflows to maintain consistency.
- Channel syndication: PIM systems facilitate the distribution of product data to multiple sales channels and platforms. This can include B2B eCommerce portal websites, marketplaces, mobile applications and print catalogues. It will enable you to easily publish consistent and up-to-date product information across all desired locations.
- Workflow and collaboration: A PIM can also provide you with workflow and collaboration functionality. This will help you to define user roles and permissions, task management, version control and workflow approvals when publishing product catalogues.
- Integration: PIM systems can be fully integrated with your existing business systems and applications such as an ERP, CRM or eCommerce systems. An integrated PIM ensures data consistency across all platforms and systems, save you time and administration costs.
- Local and regionalisation: A PIM supports the management of product data for different markets and regions. This can include translation, regional pricing and compliance with local regulations.
4. HR Portal
A HR portal, also referred to as a Human Resources portal or an Employee self-service portal provides employees with access to various HR related information and services. Its features and capabilities vary from company to company, however the most common features include:
- Employee information: Employees can view and update personal information such as address, emergency contacts and banking information.
- Employee history and performance: Allow employees to access their employment history and performance reviews.
- Benefits and compensation: Allow employees to access documentation on benefits packages such as health insurance, pension information etc.
- Payroll: Enable employees to access and download wage slips and P60s.
- Holiday requests: Simplify the way employees request holidays with automated management workflow approvals.
- Attendance: Increase the visibility of time sheets, sickness and attendance records.
- Training and development: Provide access to company training resources, courses, and certifications.
- Employee documentation and policies: Streamline employee onboarding by enabling employees to download and access company policies, handbooks, procedures and other HR related documentation.
5. B2B Supplier Portal
A B2B Supplier portal enables business to business organisations to improve communication and streamline processes with suppliers and trading partners. The key features and capabilities found in B2B supplier portals can include:
- Supplier onboarding and management: Simplify the way suppliers register and include qualification processes, document submission, and allow your suppliers to easily manage, edit and update their details.
- Purchase orders and invoicing: Issue your suppliers with purchase orders and enable them to acknowledge receipt, update order status, submit invoices, and track payment status.
- Inventory: Providing your suppliers with inventory levels in real-time will help them to plan production, manage inventory, and ensure delivery of goods and services.
- Communication and collaboration: Improve communication and collaboration with suppliers by allowing them to submit enquiries and receive notifications and updates. This will help you improve supplier relationships and reduces support call time and resource.
- Supplier documents: Simplify access to supplier contracts, specifications, compliance standards and policies.
- Performance and compliance: A supplier portal will often include additional metrics or scorecards to monitor performance. Depending on your own processes and requirements this may include on-time delivery, responsiveness, and compliance with their contractual obligations.
- Analytics and reporting: This capability will enable you to easily track supplier performance and order history. This will help you gain insights to identify opportunities for improvement.
6. Intranet Portal
An intranet portal, also referred to as an internal portal is for your employees and other authorised personnel within your business to improve communication, collaboration, and the day-to-day sharing of corporate information. In addition to having access to internal training and policy documentation the common elements of an intranet portal can include:
- Company announcements: Keep employees informed of organisational news, events, and department changes.
- Document and file management: Employees can access and collaborate on documents and easily store, organise and manage policies, procedures, forms and templates.
- Employee directory: Provide contact information such as personnel email and extension numbers of individuals within the business.
- Team and project management: Allow employees to collaborate on projects, track progress, assign responsibilities and share project-related information.
- Collaboration tools: The ability to include message boards or chat functionality to exchange ideas and knowledge sharing.
7. Partner Portal
A partner portal can also be referred to as a channel partner or vendor portal. It streamlines collaboration and communication with external partners such as distributors, resellers, or suppliers. A partner portal allows partners to access relevant information, resources and tools provided by your business. Some key features and functionalities of a partner portal may include:
- Partner onboarding and management: Include partner registration, qualification processes, document submission and the ability to update their business profile with contact information.
- Sales and marketing support: Assist partners in sales and marketing activities by providing them with self-serve company branding guidelines, email templates, pricing information and additional marketing material.
- Lead management: Allow partners to receive and track sales leads and opportunities created. Partners will be able to update lead status, assign ownership, and track the full sales cycle.
- Order management: Provide your partners with real-time visibility into order status, inventory availability, shipment tracking, and order history to streamline the order management process.
- Training and Certification: Provide your partners with training resources and certified programmes to help them improve their knowledge of your products or services.
- Documentation: Simplify access to contracts, agreements, policies and guidelines.
- Communication and collaboration: Allow your business partners to exchange messages, submit enquiries, request support, and receive updates or email/SMS notifications.
- Performance tracking: Allow partners to access their performance data and sales KPIs through an intuitive dashboard.
Enterprise portal development services
Here at Applications Platform we provide you with market-proven enterprise portal development services that have been tried and tested in a wide range of B2B business scenarios. Our enterprise-level web portal solutions are fully integrated with your existing business systems, powered by low-code technology.
Our Professional Services team helps you to simplify the portal development process including planning, development, customisation and deployment to help you go to market quickly, on time and within budget.
If you’re looking to transform your business through B2B portal software, download the datasheet below or call us on +44 (0) 330 99 800 50.