According to Gartner, 77% of B2B buyers state that their latest purchase was complex or difficult. So there’s a clear opportunity to be taken advantage of, if you can implement a seamless B2B buying experience that puts your company ahead of the competition.
However, creating a seamless buying experience takes more than simply adopting the newest shopping capabilities; understanding which technologies and processes will work for your business model, and who the right providers are to procure them from, can be challenging.
So, how can this seamless B2B buying experience be created? Let’s take a look.
Preparing for a B2B Commerce Solution
To create a smooth, reliable, and positive ecommerce experience, the first step any business must take is to ensure that they understand their customers and how they make purchases.
Once this has been done, you can set your sights on the bigger picture. A successful B2B buying experience brings together a myriad of components that must work together. Distributors, retailers, partners, and dealers are all involved, and must combine effectively to create a seamless buying journey for customers.
We believe that there are four questions to take into consideration when wanting to best serve your stakeholders. They are:
- Where do your customers prefer to shop and how?
- What are the key functions in the buying process that customers need to complete?
- What information is critical at each stage of the buying process?
- Which systems need to be connected and what systems do the distributors and retailers use?
Getting Started: First Steps
The primary consideration when improving your buying experience is to consider the customers’ needs and desired outcomes. In addition, you need to think about how fulfilling those needs can be operationalised internally. As with most business ventures, the early stages of creating a B2B buying experience involve asking questions. When formulating your plan, there are a few key matters you need to be considering:
- Who needs to be involved? Which internal stakeholders are needed? (These projects often require marketing, sales, IT, and customer success teams.)
- What will each team own? Who will be accountable for deadlines and what’s the ideal timeline?
- What’s the budget? (This needs to cover the entire process, including maintenance and upgrades.)
- How are you going to measure success?
These questions are vital in laying out the scope, structure, and implementation of your B2B sales offering. They are also important for selecting the right technology to meet both your business’s and your customers’ requirements. Get clear answers to these and you’re off to a good start.
Determining Requirements - B2B Functionality
Once you’ve asked yourself all the necessary questions, you can turn your attention to specific requirements. The B2B customer journey may be more complex than simple B2C transactions, but B2B clients have the same expectations as any other customer. They’re looking for a smooth and uninterrupted experience.
Therefore, you need to consider your customers’ point of view, while also thinking about specific B2B functionality, that will improve their buying experience.
This could include:
- Reordering capabilities
- Integration with other systems
- Pricing and personalised catalogues
- Bulk ordering
- Advanced workflows
- Self-service account management
When it comes to ecommerce, different audiences are going to have different requirements and expectations. If you’re planning to engage with different audiences and provide them with the experience they need, you must take all of these factors, and more, into account. Then, you can measure the success of your efforts; platform analytics can help inform whether these audiences are able to find information or perform the functions they need.
Using The Cloud
Evolving technology means that the cloud is at your disposal to make use of better solution management. Many organisations are now choosing cloud solutions as they can give your business the flexibility it needs to adapt to changes and grow as a result. Cloud-based solutions often rely on more robust cybersecurity measures, better protecting your data.
The implementation is also simpler with cloud and PaaS services. With the implementation made easier, potential issues that come with maintaining the infrastructure’s security and upgrades are resolved with ease.
However, if your organisation cannot adopt a cloud solution, on-premise solutions are always a viable option.
Considering Ease of Use
To figure out what works best for you, there are a multitude of things that your business should be asking itself, with an eye on saving time and energy later on down the line. Would your needs be fulfilled by a point solution, for example? Point solutions focus exclusively on a specific part of the ecommerce experience if you’re not overhauling the entire platform.
Either way, it’s also important to keep ease of use in mind once a platform is implemented. Low-code and no-code solutions mean that business owners are able to build a buying journey without the involvement of IT, allowing non-technical staff to build workflow automation functions intuitively. This may also help your team work faster and more efficiently.
While a low-code approach can offer a multitude of benefits, it’s also crucial to consider security aspects. Ensuring that all handling of data and information is up to data privacy laws and requirements established by the PCI Security Standards Council is a must. Showing your customers that their data is safe in your hands builds trust in your company and the process.
Evaluating Commercial B2B Solutions
Finding the best solution for your business isn’t easy, but narrowing down platform options based on your specific criteria can make things a lot easier.
Once you’ve got those nailed down, we’ve identified some useful questions that your business can ask themselves to evaluate possible contender platforms. Let’s take a look at them.
Can the system deliver solutions easily or not?
You need to completely understand what it is you want to do and what it is you’re trying to achieve. This may be empowering customers to use a self-service purchasing method or personalising content on your website, for example.
How is the system set up for supporting changing business models? Is there room for expansion in the future?
Ensuring that the platform allows your business to scale and is able to handle an increase in the number of customers, sites, and products is important.
Is the solution easy to use for people outside the IT team?
Having a solution that is non-technical and easy to use means that business users can easily manage the system without the help of others.
Remember also that you need to consider these IT practicalities in light of your current architecture and where you want to be - e.g. how your current tech stack will integrate with the new solution, what your front-end experience strategy is, and whether the system will support it and allow for go-to-market strategies.
Delivering Your Seamless B2B Buying Experience
The creation of a seamless B2B buying experience is vital in ensuring your organisation’s continued success and growth. While it may seem like creating a seamless B2B buying experience is simply answering a long series of questions, this process plays a key role in ensuring success of the end result. It will help you evaluate what you need, as well as how your business will operate with the solution on a larger scale.
Understanding your customers to deliver a smooth and reliable B2B buying experience will in turn help you meet your organisation’s own B2B goals, and put you in the small group of companies that are successfully achieving them. Your bottom line, and your B2B customers, will thank you for it.