(This is a guest post from our friends over at121eCommerce, a seasoned Magento Professional Partner and web development agency specializing in B2B and B2C eCommerce.)
We all have to grow up sometime.
For some of us it happens gradually- we get a little taller, a little stronger each day.
And for some of us it happens overnight- you wake up one morning only to find out you no longer fit into your clothing.
It’s not that different for B2B eCommerce companies.
According to Amazon, B2B eCommerce was worth $829 billion in 2016 – and by 2023, it’s estimated to grow to a market size of $1.8 trillion.
In other words- it’s time to grow up.
So, how can you make sure that your eCommerce website is ready for this spurt, and ensure that it’s easy for B2B shoppers to use your services? In this guide, we’ve put together a few tips you can use to improve your website and shopping experience.
Learn more below.
1. Optimize Your Omnichannel & Mobile Shopping Experience
First and foremost, you’ll want to optimize your website’s omnichannel eCommerce experience. This means providing a unified experience across all shopping touchpoints – including smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
More shopping than ever is done from mobile platforms, and this is not only limited to B2C (Business-to-Consumer) shopping. B2B users are also becoming more likely to shop from mobile platforms, particularly as it has become standard for enterprise software and productivity applications to support tablets and phones.
94% of workers have a smartphone, and 91% of corporate employees are using “at least one” enterprise mobile application, with 21% using “dedicated, department-specific” mobile applications. In addition, 57% of mobile shoppers say they won’t recommend businesses that have a “poorly developed” mobile platform.
Clearly, it is essential that your website deliver a seamless B2B-optimized shopping experience. You should place all relevant product information, ordering tools, mobile payment systems, and chat/communication systems at the fingertips of your customers.
Whether you’re using Magento, Shopify, or even a custom eCommerce platform, you need to perform user testing and make sure you’re delivering a truly excellent omnichannel and mobile shopping experience.
2. Implement B2B-Focused Shopping Tools On Your Website To Streamline Ordering
The needs of business shoppers are different than those of everyday consumers. An end consumer (B2C) may purchase a single box of latex gloves from an auto supply store, while a dealership (B2B) may want to purchase 500 boxes of gloves, along with a bulk shipment of oil of different grades, dozens of pairs of safety glasses, brake fluid… and other such products in a single order.
For this reason, it’s very important to implement features that allow B2B customers to quickly place bulk orders on your website. Magento, for example, allows customers to purchase items by directly entering the SKU, or even importing a list of SKUs that can be translated into a purchase order.
Another alternative would be to enable bulk ordering directly from your standard shopping user interface. For example, you can use an extension like Rapid List Ordering on your Magento website. This tool enables one-click ordering and simplified product navigation for eCommerce customers. It reduces the time spent ordering individual items, and makes it simple to order and reorder frequently purchased items.
By enabling these types of tools on your eCommerce platform, you can make it easier for B2B customers to get the items they need while minimizing friction and maximizing conversion rates.
3. Provide Net 30 Terms & Invoicing When Customers Check Out
Most companies prefer net 30 terms and invoicing for larger purchases, as this helps maximize their cash flow and makes it more convenient to order the items they need. Depending on the eCommerce platform you use, this feature may be available by default. But in most cases, you’ll need to use a third-party extension or add custom code to your eCommerce website to enable it.
Offering invoicing and purchase orders to your customers can be very beneficial for your company. Your clients will be able to spend more money on products because they won’t pay right away, resulting in higher sales.
Of course, it’s important to verify the credit of businesses when you extend these terms. Most third-party extensions and tools that allow purchase orders and net terms will allow you to do this automatically.
4. Deliver Informative & Educational Resources To Customers While They Shop
Compared to B2C marketing, B2B marketing should be much more focused on providing informative and educational content to customers. A recent study found that 44% of top-performing B2B companies have a centralized content marketing group.
In addition, 66% of B2B companies focused on “prioritizing… audience’s informational needs” over their “organizations sales/promotional message.” When we look at the top-performing B2B companies, this jumps to 88%. Clearly, putting your customer’s informational needs above your own branding and sales-focused content is worthwhile in B2B eCommerce.
Compared to B2C commerce, B2B commerce involves higher dollar values per order, longer-term business relationships, and more repeat orders. Given this fact, it’s no surprise that B2B customers want to develop a thorough, comprehensive understanding of your company’s products or service before making a purchase.
5. Consider Implementing Customized Pricing For Individual Customers
Another useful change you can make to your eCommerce website is to customize pricing for individual customers. Some platforms, like Magento Commerce, provide this as a built-in option for your store. Others may require you to develop a custom feature or extension to enable per-user pricing.
As you may have already gathered, per-user pricing allows you to customize the prices of your items for individual customers.
For example, if you have a customer that often bulk-orders a particular item, you can customize and lower the price. You know they will be a repeat buyer and so you will be able to stay profitable even with a lower margin. In contrast, new customers or businesses that place smaller orders will pay higher per-unit prices, since you may not be sure if they will continue to shop with you.
The biggest benefit of this is increased customer loyalty. You can let customers know that you are dropping the prices of some of your items for them, and thank them for being consistent shoppers at your store. Showing them this appreciation makes it more likely they will shop with you in the future – and encourages them to stick with you.
It also increases their “switching cost” – they may not know if they can get the same deal at another eCommerce store, so they will be less likely to explore other vendors, and less likely to stop shopping at your store.
6. Make It Easy For Customers To Contact Your Team & Get Answers To Questions
Just as you should focus on informational, educational content about your products, you should also make it easy for customers to contact you and get answers to their questions about your products. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Q&As about products – Post answers to questions about your products publicly on each item’s page. This way customers find answers without contacting you directly. Chances are, many of your customers will have similar questions, so this is a great way to enhance customer knowledge.
- Chatbots – Chatbots are a seamless way to integrate communication throughout your entire website. Customers can quickly get automated answers to their questions, or request a connection to a live customer service representative – all without leaving the page they’re on.
- Contact information on each page – Having an email, phone number, contact form, or another such method of contact on each product page can be valuable, particularly if you encourage customers to get in touch if they have questions.
When you implement these methods of customer contact, you need to make sure that you do your best to answer questions and connect with customers as quickly as possible.
B2B customers, in particular, need to feel listened to – and expect rapid turnaround times for their questions. 86% of B2B customers are “more likely” to pay more from a vendor that offers a “great customer experience,” and they spend 13% more on average to buy products from such vendors.
7. Don’t Forget About Customer Reviews & Testimonials
Finally, let’s touch on one of the most often-overlooked aspects of B2B eCommerce – product reviews. While product reviews are sometimes seen as something that’s only important for B2C consumers, this is not the case.
Only about 43% of B2B companies say they have product reviews on their websites – and only a further 20% say that they are seriously considering adding any.
However, a full 93% of customers say they are “more likely” to consider purchasing a product that they’ve read positive reviews about, and there’s no reason to believe that this doesn’t apply to both B2B and B2C customers.
Whether your eCommerce platform already has a customer review feature or you need to add it with a third-party or custom extension, adding customer reviews to your products can be very helpful – and help build customer trust, boost conversion rates, and enhance your bottom line.
Follow These Tips For A Better B2B eCommerce Experience – And More Sales!
With these 7 tips, you’ll be able to improve the B2B eCommerce shopping experience, and sell your products and services more effectively. So think about how you can implement one, several, or all of the above features with your eCommerce platform. You’re sure to benefit from more sales, a better customer retention rate, and much more!
Read more articles about B2B eCommerce:
- How to Choose the Best B2B eCommerce Platform for Your Business
- B2B eCommerce: Native B2B Platform Vs Repurposing B2C
- Should B2B Merchants Sell on Amazon or Their Own Webstore?
- Why Manufacturers and Distributors Should Sell Online
- Get Your B2B Sales Team On Board for Your eCommerce Migration
- How to Navigate B2B eCommerce: Go-to-Guide for Manufacturers and Distributors for Getting Online