The industry’s rapidly evolving and nowadays B2B buyers are looking to make purchases with the same ease and convenience as they do in the B2C world, online. But these two models are different and B2B sellers must create a digital strategy with these differences in mind to ensure loyalty and a seamless buying experience. B2B buyer’s expectations are changing and knowing these 5 best practices for B2B eCommerce will make a big difference in choosing the right strategies to accommodate their needs.
Ultimately, as a vendor, your role is to provide a buying experience that’s effortless and makes your customers’ job easier. B2B buyers don’t have the time or desire to sift through hours of research and catalogues when they likely already know exactly what they want.
If you think about what makes a great B2B buyer experience, it comes down to three things: accessibility, efficiency and education. Everything you implement into your strategy should be providing one of these three things. Buyers need to access your site easily, on any device. They need the efficiency of being able to check order statuses, re-order regular products, track deliveries when they need it and have the ability to learn about new or better suited products recommended based on their past requirements.
Keep these 5 best practices in mind:
- Keep it simple. Don’t let your buyers get bogged down in giant catalogues of products that are impossible to navigate. The same rule applies for product names too. Product ZV23 might make sense to you, but likely means nothing to your customer. Vendors with easy-to-use search functions and re-order functions such as one-click re-ordering or subscription services for regularly used products will greatly improve your buyer’s experience.
- Information generates confidence. Buyers become loyal when they build trust and the fastest way to instil confidence is to include quality information on your site. Think detailed product descriptions, technical specifications, reviews, related product suggestions, etc. Many successful sites even go the extra mile and include live chats, how-to documents and/or videos and the like. Don’t overload your buyer with information, but think about what’s useful to them when making a purchase (especially for a first-time buyer). Having the right information available can also reduce the risk of problematic or incorrect orders.
- Optimise for B2B specifics. As mentioned earlier, B2B buyers buy differently than B2C, so the site needs to reflect this. Different buyers will have varying contract prices, workflow approvals, etc. When configuring your site, create it so that buyers can log in and only see what products and pricing applies to them. Most B2C platforms aren’t able to manage this level of complexity so it’s essential that vendors work with a B2B focussed platform that handles your requirements as part of its configuration, not customisation.
- Use the data. You’ve invested in creating a game-changing B2B eCommerce platform, now let it work for you. The customer data and insights you can gain through your platform is likely more valuable than any data in your CRM system. This information will help your sales team uncover smarter ways to create customised recommendations. Purchasing history can be used to decide on new product bundles, content searches can dictate the creation of new service offerings, and more.
- Empower your sales team. Your eCommerce platform is not a replacement for a sales team, it’s designed to help them. Having self-service options like order status checking etc is great for your buyers and it eases the admin workload from your sales team, freeing up their time to create better, more strategic relationships with high-value customers.
As mentioned in point 4, allowing your sales team to utilise the data you have, gives them insight into the accounts they manage. Look for a platform that lets your sales reps log in and see exactly what they see, including the ability to create and/or edit orders on their behalf of their client. By identifying what customer data is most valuable to your sales team, they’ll develop better client relationships and ultimately sales.
Effective B2B selling is about anticipating the problems your buyers might have and solving them before they ask. By understanding the full customer purchase journey and solving the biggest challenges at each buying stage, you’ll be on the path to success.