Sally’s long week at work ended with binge watching her favorite series on TV drowned in a bucket of popcorn. She lazes around all weekend working her way through her favorite shopping sites, buying stuff she had been procrastinating for a while. Sally relaxed and feels thoroughly accomplished and pumped to start the new month ahead at work on Monday. Sally has worked hard, is now beginning to reap the fruits of a successful business set up a few years ago. She goes early to work on Monday, gets ready to order the customary supplies for the month ahead. So what do you think Sally was going to do? Call the vendor who she always struggles to catch hold of at that early hour? Go hunting in her practically paperless office for catalogs to order from? Or call around peers for help on good deals? For all you know she probably wants break convention. Get over with a simple mundane routine bulk order. Sally will look for that convenient B2B ecommerce customer experience that helped her get rid of her personal shopping chores successfully over the weekend. Will she find what she wants?
The rise in expectations of a B2B buyer
If you thought that an average B2B buyer today stuck to convention, as a B2B brand owner this is probably your first step towards gross negligence. Forrester said that B2B ecommerce market is estimated at $1.1 trillion compared to the B2C market, which is at $480 billion.
The accelerated growth of B2B ecommerce is only justified however; for the buying community here overlaps with B2C where superior evolved buying experiences reign. B2B buyers today are therefore aware; they are clear needs for online simply because they are aware of the B2C space.
So now Sally would prefer to ideally help herself online with simple self-serve online portal as against looking calling a vendor negotiating prices and the regular rigmarole from there. A robust B2B portal would help sally find more information, note fine print, research, buy and further manage her accounts from there.
All right you do realize that your audiences are out there waiting for you to put up your best show yet. Unsure if you can still succeed? Here is what you may have likely overlooked.
Common B2B misconceptions
It is but a fact that B2B businesses are yet to realize the complete potential of ecommerce; now this could be due to several reasons. The leadership rung still believes that not only implementing ecommerce is expensive but all that follows remains complex with costs riding over a projected revenue gain. While this stands at the base what follows are a series of other mistakes B2B brands commit in their endeavor to succeed online.
- The B2B buyer is yet to mature.
But of course you are dealing with the new generation buyer whose powers and preferences you cannot fathom completely yet. But you do know that their preferred method of transacting has surpassed the conventional processes and for the nth time as we insist, they have stepped in from the B2C realm. Bear in mind that almost all the winning features of B2C can be translated into B2B thereby dramatically influencing customer experiences.
- B2B Ecommerce will reveal the pricing structure.
With the growth rate in B2B we have just mentioned above, cut throat pricing techniques margins hitting new lows simply to gain a bigger chunk of buyers are inevitable. While caution to safeguard pricing techniques cannot be compromised, a web store front will not snatch your privacy away. Web stores can offer the option of viewing prices when the buyer logs in. While this not only restricts customers viewing the entire pricing structure, access can also be restricted to showcasing the applicable and negotiated pricing for a specific user. The B2B site can also be simply to allow product visibility enable product visibility for those without a login and encourage them to call for prices.
- B2B ecommerce does not foster long term relationships
Long term relationship with the B2B buyer is conventional; for there are bulk and repeat orders that occur periodically. Forging strong B2B bonds also ensures that competition is not a threat really, with “deals” closed over dinner’s visits and trips by family owned businesses. Web stores can still be transformed with live 24*7 chats, presence on social media or a variety of other options to connect. With this, customer service is a lot more continued and moreover is welcomed by the B2B community at large.
- B2B ecommerce is incapable of handling custom orders
A custom order mostly based on the longevity of the relationship is most often perceived to be against the ecommerce norm. Let us say that you work with a Magento B2B setup, there are add-ons or extensions, tools and variants that can be incorporated. Sales quote for Magento is a classic example of such a tool that allows creation of online quotes straight from the shopping cart.
- Scalability is not feasible with B2B ecommerce
Building a highly scalable B2B platform is more often pushed to the back burner by B2B brands. Brands build shopping cart platforms without too much thought into the future despite having an aggressive growth agenda on the cards. This directly impacts ecommerce functionality at each stage of growth ultimately coming in the way of the company’s ability to scale its platform.
Above all B2B firms direct focus on to beating direct competitors, when the actual market is hogged by the massive online marketplaces such as Amazon, Google, eBay and Alibaba. These giants have already established and transformed B2C buying experiences that is slowly steadily catching up on B2B as well. After all the B2B buyer already familiar, they use their sites apps and completely is at home with all interfaces. They know that no matter what his expectations will be met by them. Sally is no exception.
Evolved B2B ecommerce customer experience – Here is your 7 point action plan
It is imperative to bear in mind and keep competing with your own customer expectations; delivering exceptional online buying experience is that which can sustain your B2B selling strategy. Doing away with legacy tech infrastructure and investing in what will meet evolved customer demands will propel your brand towards a win each time.
- Make B2B ecommerce an informed reassuring buying experience
Your content is indeed the lifeline of your B2B ecommerce experience. With missing information like product sizes, ingredient lists, or demo videos, the user will simply look elsewhere. This simply leads to the customer choosing another purchase funnel outside of your own. Today B2B user experiences mean ability to obtain detailed information and ability to track real time data on products and services made available. If it means deploying a robust product information management system in the B2B portal, it is about time B2B brands thought about it.
Free unrestricted information exchange establish trust and then this way the deal can be closed out faster.
- Focus on offline to online shift
Millennial buyers are about efficiency and speed in transactions; the chances of speaking to a sales representative or using a phone to close out a sale is slowly decreasing. On the contrary the chances of a purchase during a service call by the sales representative are pretty much growing. With adequate publicity on the launch of an ecommerce channel, you can even drive your most valued customers into preliminary testing so as to train, educate, and gain valuable feedback.
- Leverage the ability to nurture leads through the B2B buying journey
A typical B2B buyer journey is long and therefore there exists a bigger window to explore potential to sell more to the same buyer in the process. Rich content in the form of informative material related to the product help consumers make informed decisions, establishing communication after first level information is shared helps hit the iron when it is hot. The buyer feels a lot more connected with the brand, the interest builds and also increases the chances of connecting with a sales person from there. Read our blog on how to leverage on CRM for your B2B business.
- Woo your Omni channel audiences
According to MarketingProfs, “98% of buyers are doing at least some online research on work-related purchases that they make offline”. Today the conversion funnel ideally takes off from there, a website experience that transmit contextual consistent and accurate content is therefore imperative. The role of the B2B salesman is not redundant as yet, what is more important and sustainable is the ability to be able to complement and feed prospects into both online/offline channels.
Aggregating and organizing data across applications within the business set-up will help establish an integrated system. Now this will enable uniform sharing of data which is crucial to ensure a seamless buying experiences across different channels. For more information, do read our blog on omni-channel experience in B2B ecommerce.
- Merge your ecommerce efforts with concurrent business processes and teams
Working in tandem with all channels and support functions is that which will accelerate growth. The B2B digital channel needs to be structured and weaved into an existing set up such that it furthers the overall efforts of selling. It is therefore important to first review the current support structure, align roles and resources in line with what is expected from the digital channel.
- B2B mobile commerce
Mobile commerce was 30% way back in 2014 and the figures have been growing ever since. B2B mobile commerce throws open a window of opportunity by means of operating outside the usual confines of a traditional desktop browser, brands can belt out push notifications, social integration, and mobile payments also addressing some unique requirements of B2B. Such as say- B2B orders are most often repeats; post the first order the likelihood of repeat orders from the same customer climbs with the help of a convenient mobile app.
- Usability of your B2B e-store
The web UX of your B2B e store is that which drives conversion; failing which most of the time users fail to complete the website action. B2B customers today demand seamless website performance across all interfaces, customized features, self-service options in short a web experience on par with what is found on B2C. Optimized web displays, user controls and proactive upgrades of customer-centric features (read personalization) can turn around conversions online.
The crucial role of partner like i95Dev
What lies beneath an evolving B2B ecommerce experience is ensuring that you function with a seamless IT environment that only drives operational efficiency first. Your existing B2B web store build a unified eco-system for the bottom line- uniform exchange of data across applications that directly impacts B2B buyer experiences.
Team i95dev has strong experience and knowledge in the B2B realm as it helped deliver B2B experiences to clients across the world. i95dev has successfully deployed Magento commerce with cutting edge add on functionalities exclusively for B2B.