Online shopping has been popular in the B2C market for over a decade. While eCommerce has been slower to take hold in the B2B sales sphere, it is now the most effective way to sell a B2B product.
Fully transitioning to an online sales team or adding an online store to your existing brick-and-mortar storefront can be daunting. Here are nine necessary B2B eCommerce strategies to implement today.
Have an Easy-to-Navigate Website
As of November 2021, B2B eCommerce sales surpassed in-person sales for the first time. eCommerce is now the most popular way products are sold, with the number of online sales projected to increase even more over the next decade.
Just as an appealing physical store is important for in-person sales, a clean and easy-to-navigate website is essential for an eCommerce business. The path of least resistance will always be the most appealing when it comes to the buying process, so any perceived website difficulties will hurt sales.
A straightforward, user-friendly website is one of the fastest ways to retain existing customers or attract new online business. Conversely, a clunky or confusing website will send your target audience into a competitor's arms. A positive online experience will make or break a client relationship.
A successful eCommerce business will have a commerce platform that makes all necessary website channels accessible. Product offerings with clear product descriptions aren't the only things that should be obviously visible. Avenues for reaching customer service representatives, information for bulk orders, and unique and engaging content should be easy to find from the landing page at a minimum.
Elements of a website, such as a drop-down menu or labeled category links along the header of every page, make it difficult to get lost on an eCommerce platform.
Create a Strong Mobile Platform
It is assumed that most B2B eCommerce sales are taking place on computers, but current stats paint a different picture:
- 61% of B2B buyers say they use a mobile device to research products and 40% of B2B revenue is generated from mobile-supported websites and applications.
- Well-crafted mobile platforms can increase sales speeds by 20%.
- More than 90% of surveyed B2B buyers said that a positive mobile platform impacted a sale they committed to. The same percentage of individuals said a positive mobile purchasing experience would make them much more likely to buy from the same company again.
With more jobs taking place at home and on the go, many buyers are using phones and tablets to research and purchase items. Business websites optimized for mobile devices and tablets are critically important in creating a positive buying experience. Customers increasingly expect a mobile-friendly platform when they buy online.
Many B2B eCommerce companies are using free education to increase sales, find new customers, and solidify themselves as knowledgeable in the field in which they're providing goods. There are multiple advantages to having a blog or education portal where customers can learn information relevant to their industry.
Sharing accurate information that is also helpful will lend credibility to your eCommerce business. People are drawn to others who are trustworthy and knowledgeable in their field of expertise. Providing a wealth of knowledge on your eCommerce platform will solidify a good impression and can boost your brand image by associating your brand with proficiency.
Other information, such as your business model, information about your specific supply chain, and success stories from your customers, can also be showcased as part of your educational information. This will bolster your image and can be helpful to customers at the same time.
Education will lead to increased traffic due to SEO hits. The more information you provide on your website the more opportunities there are for new customers to be led to your website. Creating content around key search terms and industry-specific vocabulary will drive more individuals to your eCommerce platform as they seek information from search engines.
The term "algorithm" is thrown around a lot in modern times and even joked about frequently. The fact of the matter is that search engine algorithms take into account multiple elements when ranking search results. High-quality, credible information has an increased chance of moving you up in search engine rankings. If your website has a large volume of valuable content you are strengthening one of the factors used in deciding who is ranked where in the millions of search results for a single searched term.
Increasing engagement on your website is one of the most important eCommerce best practices because more traffic translates into more sales.
Providing helpful information online about your product and industry will do more than just draw clients to your website; it will showcase credibility, and engage them. It provides an opportunity for you to stand out from your competitors. Free information that can help someone, whether they are a client or not, creates a positive impression.
Don’t hide information behind required contact information or mandatory account creation. Potential customers will frequently not take this step and navigate to a business that doesn’t require any personal information to access educational materials.
While your ulterior motive is to garner more business through the information you share, that should not be obvious. Clients want to learn without feeling like they are being sold something. Provide helpful information with minimal or no pitching. Make your writing sound altruistic and it will pay off.
Free education also opens up the opportunity to build customer relationships. Allowing customers to comment on posts or share their own success stories in an online space that you host creates a community with you at the forefront. This also gives you the opportunity to leverage customer insights when providing new education, creating new product sheets, and crafting content marketing.
The bottom line is that free information will often create potential customers from buyers who might have never known you existed. Education also requires less direct interaction from your sales team. 90% of purchasers won’t respond to a cold call. Bring them to you through educational material that ranks highly on search engines.
Education can also create sales that don't end up taking place online. Information on the internet can lead to more in-person traffic or direct contact with a sales representative.
Have a Functional Search Feature
Few things are more frustrating than a search engine that provides unhelpful or entirely unrelated information when searching for something precise. Make sure you have an intelligent search feature that provides relevant and useful information.
An intuitive search feature will connect customers with products and information with minimal effort. This can take time and money to get right. A lazily put-together search function may be worse than a nonexistent search function.
Invest in a program or individual who can integrate a reliable site search feature into your eCommerce platform. This will also likely entail a system for inventory management that can provide up-to-date stock availability within search results.
A well-configured search engine can instill confidence and create a positive experience that will set you apart from competitors. It can also increase sales by showcasing your products to the right buyers based on the needs they express through their searches.
Save Client Info
Help customers save time for future purchases by allowing them to save sales information to your eCommerce store system. Customers should be able to view their purchase history, shipping details, purchase orders, and previous methods of payment in their account information.
Billing and shipping information should auto-populate for return customers who have agreed to have their information saved. This will speed up the customer's buying process and add to a positive buying experience.
Saving information from past purchases is helpful for larger customers or in situations where customers have unique buying agreements. If customers have been offered customized pricing or a discounted price, often switch between payment options, or regularly do bulk ordering, then they will benefit from detailed purchase information when they come back for a repeat order.
You can utilize saved client information for content marketing as well. A one-time customer can become a repeat customer from emails sent from saved client information. Allow customers to subscribe to a newsletter, notifications for future sales, restock alerts, and information about how you can meet their business needs.
One of the more subtle benefits of saving client information is that it helps customers receive personalized service even though they might never meet your sales team face-to-face. Though they are doing self-service online purchasing, their saved information harks to earlier times when an employee in a store would remember client details and know a customer's buying history and personal information. Saving client information helps make the eCommerce customer journey feel personal despite the technological device that facilitated the transaction.
Have an Integrated Payment Platform
One of the largest benefits of adopting an eCommerce sales platform in the B2B world is immediate payments. It is possible to leave behind the lengthy invoicing and future payment due dates entirely with online commerce platforms. This is favorable for both companies and customers. Having an integrated payment platform simplifies and streamlines the sales process.
Many buyers prefer multiple payment solution options. Mobile wallets, ACH payments, major credit cards, and local payment methods are all supported in many payment platforms that can be effortlessly added to your existing website with no extra coding. Some will allow wire transfers for payments and international payment options as well. You can also add subscription payment options for products that need to be frequently replenished.
The ability to pay for items at the time of purchase creates a quality customer experience and solidifies a positive buyer's journey from start to finish. Not having an integrated payment platform can devalue the superior parts of your eCommerce platform.
Have a Clear Online Identity
Creating a brand image for your business is important so customers know who you are and how you fit into an industry. Consistency is key when you want to increase brand awareness. This can be difficult if your business is large enough that you have more than one employee contributing to content marketing, but it is important to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Logos, brand bibles, a clear business model, uniform color schemes and fonts, and the general voice of your business can all create an image of who you are as a company. Whether you realize it or not, there are likely companies that you recognize instantly because of the continuity of their branding. Even if you're at an archery range and it isn't intentional, a red bullseye probably brings Target to mind. This is because they have created a strong brand image that is unmistakable.
Your website, social media channels, blogs, email marketing, and any other online information should be the same in tone and style across the board. Don’t confuse clients about who you are by not having a unified online front. Be so consistent that a customer will recognize your logo without seeing your name or will know your content because of the language and tone used.
Provide Detailed Product Descriptions
Customers should never doubt what you are selling. I think we have all had an experience where we received something in the mail that was different than we were expecting. This is often because the details provided left enough gaps that our mind filled in the blanks and created inaccurate details. Make it easy on prospective buyers by having detailed information so they know exactly what they are purchasing.
Seeing is believing with B2B eCommerce. Product pictures are extremely important. They can help create desire and improve customer satisfaction. If you sell an item with a variable, such as color or material, include product images for every style. When relevant, model your product offerings on a person or in the environment it will be used.
In addition to photographs, include specifications. Dimensions, materials used, and what is included are all details that will help a customer know definitively if your item is what they are looking for. Photos provide customers with a solid foundation, and the fine print strengthens it. Digital commerce thrives on high-quality descriptions because it helps create as close to an in-person shopping experience as can be achieved through a website or application.
Be Easy to Contact
Even if you have done everything right and have checked all the B2B eCommerce best practices boxes, you will still have customers who need to contact you for information. Make it easy for them to do so. Some businesses fail to make their contact information readily available and it is highly frustrating for customers needing assistance.
You don't have to have a direct phone number for the CEO listed on your website, but you should have all viable contact methods including in an accessible place. Including realistic time frames for replies is helpful for setting expectations, and by extension forestalling frustration. This can be mentioned on your webpage or in an auto-reply if you are using email or chat.
Making your contact information user-friendly will save employees time and make things easier for customers. If you have multiple departments, consider listing specific contact information for each team as opposed to a generic phone number or email address. This will save someone from spending multiple hours a day forwarding emails to the right party or passing on phone calls to the correct department.
You will likely have to field more phone calls and respond to more emails if your information is easily accessible, but you will also be creating a better customer experience.
B2B eCommerce Best Practices Will Increase Customer Satisfaction
B2B eCommerce is only going to increase over time. Finding ways to set yourself apart from other businesses in the online sphere is important. Just as it is with person-to-person sales channels, eCommerce platforms should add to your goal to create an exceptional customer experience. Following the tips in this article will help you create an eCommerce platform that will increase customer satisfaction and sales.
A well-thought-out digital commerce strategy will increase revenue from all sales channels, not just the eCommerce ones. Web Canopy Studio provides services that can help you optimize your eCommerce business systems and incorporate the tips from this article. Fill out a project request to be contacted by a member of our team.