You know that going digital with your product sales means more than just putting an “e” in front of “Commerce.” Each platform and process must be strategically and tactically planned—and tailored to both your business and your customers. With fewer than 10% of B2B purchasing transactions taking place online, there is room for much growth and revenue, which means manufacturers and distributors need to pay close attention to their online customer experience.
B2B Buyers Have Unique Needs
B2B buyers may search online in a similar manner to B2C shoppers—exploring Google and Amazon for the best product options and prices. Alternately, they may be using specific vendors, dictated by an internal organization, end-user, or company policy. In many cases, they are seeking corporate volume discounts, unique product specifications, or the opportunity to set up a recurring order. Regardless of buyer intent or behavior, your site needs to be able to meet these varied and unique needs.
Building a Better B2B e-Commerce Experience
In conjunction with C2 Competitive Computing, inRiver recently published a white paper that addresses the unique approach that B2B enterprises need to take when building their online commerce experience. Although some best practices can be learned from what B2C retailers have built over the past 20+ years, many tools and techniques are particular to the B2B enterprise.
For example, as mentioned above, some buyers may be shopping for volume or corporate discounts. B2B eCommerce platforms must be able to serve up correct pricing based on user ID or email address. As some products become more commoditized due to the influence of online price shopping and comparisons, B2B enterprises must be able to find new ways to differentiate, such as offering complementary products and services to the product being sought.
Differentiating Your Online Experience
Adding value to the purchaser along the buying journey will help you to differentiate your brand and online experience. For example, if you can anticipate the buyer’s needs or make their life easier—and make it easier for them to buy from you—you will reap the reward of loyal customers and increased revenue.
One example is by showing the buyer that you understand their business. If a buyer is shopping for a replacement product that you know will require them to take a machine offline, suggest other maintenance and replacement parts that they may want to take care of at the same time, while the line is down. This will save them time and money in the long run.
Similarly, providing a variety of shipping options will enable your customer to balance budget constraints with business needs. If your customer needs an emergency replacement part to get a machine back up and running, receiving the part the next day could literally save millions of dollars. In contrast, some businesses may be willing to wait for slower “ground” shipping to save money if they are planning well ahead for their needs.
For the B2B seller, none of these scenarios will necessarily be new. However, how they are handled online compared with traditional offline procurement could be very different, and could make the difference between an abandoned cart and a sale. And it is very different from how shopping and purchasing is conducted in the B2C environment.
For a deeper dive into how to display your B2B products online, download our white paper, “9 Tips for Building a Compelling B2B Product Page.” Let us know how we can help you provide a great e-commerce experience for your customers through excellent product information.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver