B2B e-commerce businesses are expected to be the biggest area of e-commerce growth in the next four years, with 73% of today’s B2B buyers being millennials who typically prefer online purchasing, according to Merit. This is one of the main reasons why the growth of B2B e-commerce has taken place so quickly.
This highlights the need for companies to evolve their digital commerce strategy to ensure they’re delivering competitive experiences. Customer expectations have changed significantly in recent years, particularly in the wake of the pandemic and lockdowns which have acted as a driving force for increased online sales. It’s important to note that customer experience is no less important to the B2B industry as it is with B2C.
Tips to Learn From Successful B2B Companies
1. Focus on Customer Experience
Experiences that a customer has with a company leaves a lasting impression and it’s crucial for these to be positive to maintain the patronage of customers in the long term. A B2B website should offer an intuitive experience, focused on convenience and simplicity of use, to ensure buyers are able to easily find what they’re searching for. In addition, leveraging customer data can help tailor content based on buyers’ preferences including product recommendations and assisted selling. Making customer experience a priority for your business cannot be neglected and requires a detailed, carefully planned strategy that addresses all stages of the customer journey.
2. Optimise Content on B2B E-Commerce Sites
Many B2B websites fail to make the experience of their customers one of their highest priorities, which can have a negative impact on the way that their portal is frequented and used by retailers.
Detailed product information must be included on websites, a factor that has become increasingly important over the last few years as more buyers have shifted to performing online research before making any purchases. In fact, more than 70% of B2B buyers were researching more than 50% of their purchases online before making an offline purchase back in 2014, based on a survey conducted by Forrester. This is only expected to increase with easier access to product information from B2B companies, providing companies an opportunity to stand out among their competitors.
With the rising proportion of B2B buyers being millennials, B2C companies have recognised that it’s a priority for this demographic to access e-commerce sites on the go. Therefore, they’ve continued to optimise their websites across mobile, desktop, and tablet, and there is no reason why B2B sites should not be able to do the same. Responsive design will ensure buyers have seamless experiences regardless of the device they’re on.
3. Consider the Entire Buyer Journey
The buying experience only makes up one part of the entire buyer journey. Although it is of vital importance, the other stages must not be neglected. The post-buyer journey has the potential to influence a customer’s decision to make repeat purchases, and making the right moves at this stage can serve to retain this buyer as a regular customer.
This is crucial for businesses, as it costs five times as much to attract a new customer compared to retaining existing customers. Excellent customer service is another opportunity to engage with customers, helping to create loyalty and present new products and services. This could include providing access to documentation, timely responses to service requests, and providing self-service options which unify their entire experience.
4. Choose the Right B2B E-Commerce Platform
The requirements of a B2B company’s customers should be the foundation for choosing the most suitable e-commerce platform that will set the foundation for success. There are a number of important features that all good e-commerce platforms should include such as mobile compatibility, optimal user experience, machine learning, automation and compliance.
The additional B2B complexities should be taken into account when deciding on an e-commerce platform. The inclusion of advanced features and functionality will be a crucial advantage in enabling businesses to meet their buyer expectations. Recognising that B2B digital commerce focuses on known users and longer relationships (in comparison to B2C experiences which prioritise casual browsing for individual users) provides an understanding of why using B2C platforms for B2B e-commerce is less than ideal.
For example, with more complex product offerings, sales or service representatives can be especially valuable for B2B buyers as they’ll often prefer that personal touch and reward it with long-term loyalty. To achieve this, a solution is required to enable the sales and service teams to use the digital commerce site as a tool for customer context so they’re able to proactively respond to customer needs. This can be achieved much more easily with a dedicated B2B-first approach.
Why Using a B2C Platform for Your B2B E-Commerce Is a Bad IdeaDownload the Whitepaper >
How Can You Achieve B2B E-Commerce Success?
A customised and seamless online purchasing experience is essential for B2B companies to win over buyers. B2B-first commerce technology that comes complete with modern, automated features including self-service options is what truly enables B2B commerce businesses and sets them up for success.
Flexibility, scalability, reliability and ease of use are four key elements to a successful B2B e-commerce platform. Focus on finding a platform that enables you to deliver the best service to your customers, offering advanced functionalities and features that meet your individual business needs.
Take a look at these 6 must-have B2B e-commerce features that will help ensure you provide digital experiences that meet customer expectations.