(This is a guest post from our friends over at Hawksearch, a search platform that leverages advanced machine learning and pattern analysis to identify the best search experience to deliver to both your B2C and B2B users.)
The eCommerce industry has had explosive growth in the past few years. Ad Week recently stated that millions of dollars of business are conducted every 60 seconds on today’s eCommerce websites. While B2C online selling is still ahead, the great news is that B2B eCommerce is growing exponentially every year. In fact, B2B eCommerce is rapidly becoming a critical marketing channel for many industries, including manufacturing and distributors. There is no question that B2B eCommerce will create the opportunity for these businesses to see significant sales and revenue growth.
Selling online for B2B companies such as manufactures and distributors has really changed the way business gets done, especially when compared to traditional methods. In this blog, we are going to look at how B2B businesses can really benefit from eCommerce and how companies can harness the latest technology to achieve real online success.
How eCommerce Is Changing The Way B2B Business Is Done
For many years, B2B companies conducted business largely by working with a sales representative and a catalogue of products. While this method worked and moved a lot of product over the years, it was a time and labor intensive process. Catalogues would go out of date, inventories could change at the spur of the moment and it was necessary for there to be numerous and repetitive interactions between the sales person and the buyer in order to get a transaction finalized.
In B2B eCommerce today, a company’s on-site search platform plays a critical role in modernizing the traditional methods of buying and selling. An effective search tool provides customers with the ability to search for products, in an organized and user friendly fashion.
How Search Platforms Can Drive Sales For Manufactures and Distributors
- Personalized & Relevant Search Results – Utilizing such technology as visitor targeting (known information about a shopper, as well as prior purchase history), on-site search tools today are able to return personalized search results to site visitors. The satisfaction level of shoppers is greatly increased when search results are tailored to their specific needs. More relevant and accurate search results lead to increased conversions.
- Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence – Machine learning is a technology that utilizes artificial intelligence in order to analyze a huge amount of data about the shopping trends and behaviors of site visitors. Modern search engines can evaluate this large storehouse of data, which allows them to make very accurate predictions about which products shoppers would most likely want to purchase.
- Recommendations Tool – This feature, found on some search products today provides B2B eCommerce sites with the ability to suggest additional products to buy that are not part of the initial search results returned from a query. Recommendation tools are powered by the insights gained from the buying predictions made by machine learning and artificial intelligence. A recommendations tool unleashes the power of suggestive selling by giving shoppers alternative buying options. By placing headers on site landing pages such as “also viewed” and “more like this”, you are giving buyers more choices to purchase products that already appeal to them. Suggestive selling through this method greatly increases the chance of conversion.
- Federated Search – Some B2B sites have thousands of products contained within them that are not only sourced from various places, but also often live on different platforms. When evaluating which on-site, search product solution to utilize, a B2B business will want to make sure that their chosen search engine is capable of federated search. This technology ensures that the search tool is indexing the entire website, not just bits and pieces of it. If product information is housed on different platforms, federated search gives site visitors the benefit of a comprehensive search experience, not just a partial view. The down side to incomplete search results is that a shopper can’t buy a product that they don’t get the opportunity to see.
B2B eCommerce is completely changing the way that manufacturers and distributors do business today. The traditional methods of selling to customers has worked successfully for many years, but online commerce is making the process more streamlined and efficient. B2B websites can greatly benefit by search engines that provide personalized and relevant search results that lead to conversions. In addition, by utilizing machine learning and a recommendations tool, manufacturers and distributors are now able to predict buyers’ shopping patterns like never before and essentially “upsell” with a much greater level of accuracy.
If you would like more information about how Hawksearch can help take your B2B eCommerce sales to a new level, click here.