As B2B eCommerce continues to grow & evolve, so will the shopping habits & needs of your B2B customers. Besides this, the demographics of buyers is also changing – more millennials are playing pivotal roles in the purchase cycle. Today’s B2B audience is more tech-savvy.
It is essential to understand these shifting trends so that you can best meet the unique requirements of your B2B customers - ultimately creating a more personalized experience.
In the past, when a generic catalog, cold calls, brochures, pamphlets, & fax would have sufficed. These days such legacy solutions don’t cut it. B2B businesses MUST give their buyers an immersive & memorable experience online – find a way to simplify their buying journey.
"64% of the B2B purchases are now happening online" – DC 360
The online channel is becoming increasingly relevant in the purchasing decisions of most B2B companies. Believe it or not, 7 in 10 B2B companies expect their online purchase volume to rise in the coming years.
Thus, B2B Sellers must create awareness, educate, build trust & keep in touch with buyers to sustain their businesses. A healthy B2B model will attract & retain buyers at all costs.
Equip yourself with the right tools to improve the shopping experience on your B2B website & build long-lasting relationships.
B2B Sellers must shift their mindset from selling to solving for B2B buyers. Engineer integrated experiences – from product to brand to buying. Reduce friction between interest & intent to buy & optimize the buying journey to hit higher sales - upgrade the B2B sites to serve your buyers better.
B2B Model in Place
B2B Buying is more Labor & Time-Intensive. Unlike the B2C market, where buying is more impulsive – in B2B, such is not the case. More decision-makers are part of the B2B buying cycle; therefore, the procurement time is extended.
Instant Purchases are not a thing with B2B brands. In B2C, the turnaround is a lot quicker – since the person evaluating is also the person who ends up buying. On the other hand, a corporate will take its own sweet time to finalize - after all, the investments are massive.
46% of B2B purchases are completed by 2-3 individuals - DC 360
In B2B, a sale rarely happens on the first visit, which is why the sales funnel needs more nurturing. A B2B buyer, researches a lot more, before arriving at something substantial.
34% B2B buyers research at least 4 eCommerce websites when making a 1st time purchase - DC 360
A B2B buyer would also spend more time to validate the details around a concerned product. They are in no-rush – paying attention to all the intricate details before closing the deal. The process involves scanning spec sheets, ratings, brochures, videos, images, certifications, etc.
37% of B2B buyers dedicate a month or more to product evaluation - DC 360
The buyer, at any point in the sales funnel, can become suspicious about the B2B seller’s ability to meet their requirements. Therefore, till the sellers win the confidence of the B2B buyers– the dialogue won’t move ahead.
The Amazon Experience
Amazonization is the impact of Amazon on the way everything around it works. Amazon redefined customer expectations &, in the process, became the dominant force in retail & eCommerce, due to which businesses are trying to be more Amazon-like.
“Amazonization of a business” is a process that evolved by taking hints from the business improvement approach of Amazon. B2B Sellers must find a way to mimic this model & elevate their user interface to Amazon’s level. The constant innovation of Amazon has forced other brands to raise their game.
The objective of following “Amazonization” is to create an eCommerce platform that captures, analyzes and understands every customer touchpoint in the buying cycle. Then optimizes it and later scales it. Through the practice of “Amazon-level” personalization, businesses look to enhance UX.
Amazon put in place a model that was wholly “customer-centric” and thus became the “Platinum Standard” for selling online. This is why most emerging & established companies are copying Amazon’s practices - the impact of Amazon.
The “Amazonization phase” spoiled B2B buyers. The constant influx of customized & convenient buying experiences raised their expectations from sellers. B2B Buyers nowadays seek experiences on par with Amazon.
Following in Amazon's footsteps; brands that offer a strong UX using the vast amounts of buyer data in near-real-time, enjoy deep customer loyalty, conversions & revenue than their industry peers. Also, these brands are the ones that go on to become the “future-ready” or Amazon-ized companies.
Due to this, even when it comes to marketplaces, Amazon Business dominates the purchasing & receives almost twice as much activity relative to other marketplaces (Alibaba & Newegg).
4 in 10 buyers complete more than 10% of their B2B buying on Amazon Business – DC360
The B2B buyers, in their personal lives, also find themselves engaging with Amazon which in-turn raises their expectations from sellers. The diminished UX/UI they get from B2B eCommerce websites results in an immediate letdown & triggers abandonment.
The Need for “Amazonization in B2B eCommerce” has emerged and can’t be overlooked. Its high-time B2B sellers overhaul their selling ways & find a way to consumerize the selling process. Use whatever customer data you possess to derive strategies that optimize the way you sell online.
Fundamentals of B2B eCommerce websites
B2B buyers have come to expect certain functionalities on a B2B seller’s website. In the absence of any of this, your company will likely suffer. Let’s look at all the vital assets that any B2B site must hold:
Ease of Navigation
Recognize the need to provide a seamless browsing experience on your B2B portal.
Enhancing Navigation for B2B Buyers will compel them to explore & refine what they’re looking for by product attribute.
Use Adaptive Search (with Autocomplete), to level-up the search experience. The Adaptive search algorithm is Automated – no manual input required. It uses a technology that learns & adapts to buyer behavior. Allow buyers to navigate better, refine, & narrow down product options.
Make the buying journey as intuitive, interactive, & personalized as possible. Match relevant products to a buyer’s keystroke, guiding the buyer towards a purchase in real-time. The Ability to control search means you can integrate promotional/in-demand/sales items in the search results.
B2B industries like hardware, pharmaceuticals, etc. requiring highly specific product applications, would find it very useful. These industries need a high level of specificity & accuracy in their search results. Beyond this, use filters, hyperlinks, Mega Menu, etc. to streamline the browsing experience.
The B2B pricing is complex in a lot of ways. As the size, scope & value of a project increases, so does the price structure, including the room to adjust some pricing.
Contracted Pricing should be mitigated by including clauses for increases in license fees, labor costs, raw materials, enhancements, upgrades & other miscellaneous expenses. Also, look to address the risk of non-payment & the termination/remedies resulting from it.
Look to keep the pricing as rigid, yet flexible as possible. A lot of this will be decided w.r.t the customer. Some brands make the mistake of giving too many pricing tiers, whereas others provide too few.
Many businesses lose a considerable amount of financial value after pricing has been agreed. This happens through not charging for order changes and cancellations, conceding preferential payment terms, or not applying contractual conditions such as price indexation.
Companies can prevent this by quantifying all value leakage points & by putting in place proper contract lifecycle management measures.
Effective pricing requires balancing the price with the value generated by the customer. As such, differentiated pricing is the key to creating a suitable pricing model.
B2B buyers have come to expect flexible payment terms and payment options. Offer credit solutions (partial payments) and integrate more payment operators on your site to allow a diverse group of people from all over the world to complete orders.
The payment process in B2B is vastly different from B2C. In B2B, credit cards are not a preferred payment. Typically, transactions are through paper, check or ACH. By not permitting businesses to buy on credit (Net 30), you are pushing them to a competitor.
Only 22% of B2B buyers list credit cards as their preferred method of payment - Statista
By extending credit, you are showcasing your company’s financial stability. Ultimately, this boosts your reputation in the market. Not only this but by extending credit, you also establish trust, which makes the buyer more confident & increases future purchases (conversions).
But of course, verify that these businesses are financially stable and not fraudulent. Get them to provide an EIN, DUNS, or SSN, to establish themselves as a legal business. The company that offers “Net terms” will typically win over one that does not.
Connecting with buyers on every touchpoint is vital. The millennial demographic is more reliant on mobile devices to survey a seller’s B2B site. Thus, it is paramount that every seller has a presence on all these channels.
Going Omnichannel is not optional anymore; it’s mandatory. If you wish to scale your business & improve your revenue, then your absence on other devices will dent that vision. Now, you can fulfill the orders from anywhere. Either create a responsive website or opt for a native mobile app.
The interconnected ecosystem means that you can track the customers anywhere. Plus, the data you collect from all the devices gives you better insights into the way buyers are interacting with your brand. You can also quickly drive buyers from one touchpoint to another, with lucrative offers.
Brand Perception & Trust – The Credibility of the B2B brand in the public domain goes onto dictate whether buyers want to associate with you or not. Thus, they need to become more proactive about improving brand status. Be it on Social Media, word of mouth, advertising, or other means.
The presence of Certifications, Trust Logos, Testimonials, Awards, etc. creates a sense of security in the buyer’s mind. Implement this & secure a strong position in the buyer’s mind. B2B investments are massive; a lack of trust can easily discourage the most eager buyer.
Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)
Set the lowest quantity of a certain product that the store is willing to sell. If the buyer cannot reach the MOQ requirement, then they won't be allowed to place an order.
Many wholesale websites require buyers to reach a certain quantity per product to be able to place an order. The eCommerce platform should allow B2B merchants to set other variables like Maximum Order Quantity/product, specific quantity multiples for products sold in packs.
Provide Adequate information to each audience segment to help them make an informed decision & purchase from your business. Create content to engage your target audience with ebooks, infographics & blog posts. If need be, enable a Content Management System.
The presence of rich content on your eCommerce site showcases your brand as an expert and builds trust. Sometimes it can even alert businesses about problems they hadn’t considered. Content is indispensable in this day & age – make it an important aspect of your B2B website.
The emphasis on the value of your products should be visible & well explained from the moment a buyer lands on your store. Actionable content drives your customers to place orders. A/B test headlines, CTA copy, & product descriptions to realize the one that creates the highest conversions.
Set up a program that allows B2B users to create accounts. Set up both subscription-based & one-off purchases to keep tabs on their orders to better understand their buying pattern & target them accordingly to keep them engaged over time.
Such loyalty programs bring in a wealth of new data that you can utilize for your sales & marketing. This also allows you to predict customer needs better & see big-picture trends to guide your strategy.
Offer incentives (discounted prices) for referrals and leverage the buyer’s networks to promote your brand further. Offer rewards and get your extended connections to endorse your business.
Volume Purchase Form & Discounts
B2B buyers often buy in bulk, as such a failure to incorporate a bulk order form will hurt your business. The form will enhance the overall shopping experience by adding a simple, intuitive way to place large orders on your website.
Upon submitting the form, it’ll direct them to checkout. If it’s a Request for Quote (RFQ) form, then all the SKU’s with their part numbers & other variables will be forwarded to the concerned person.
Besides this, you’d also need discount tiers properly setup with quantity thresholds that allow bulk discounts. Then, specify different tiers for discounts based on the customer groups.
Suggest additional items based on the items in the cart. A method often referred to as Cross-Selling or Upselling. Showcase extra merch that can prove useful for the buyer. Your buyer may either discover something that ties with the SKU, or a better version of the same.
Display special offers, even time a few of them, to elevate the panic amongst buyers to acquire the SKU at an economical rate. Entice B2B buyers into placing orders by giving special prices. Buyers will be tempted to procure the product from you than from a competitor.
B2B buyers are always on the lookout for these specials & appreciate the added savings they receive. Give them another reason to trade with your company — which means more orders for you.
Current Issues Affecting B2B Sites
B2B sites are still far from giving the ideal experience that buyers seek. B2B sellers are unable to match the expectations of their consumer base due to a plethora of issues on their portal:
B2B buyers have abandoned carts for various reasons like extra costs, high shipping rates, account creation, and so on. Due to this, merchants stand to lose a significant portion of sales; despite getting the buyer as far as the Checkout stage.
87% of B2B shoppers abandoned their carts during checkout if the process is complicated - PRWeb
As such, it is vital that the seller creates a streamlined experience with the ability of One-Page Checkout, no unexpected rate changes, establish a sense of trust & security (Trust Seals), make available a sea of payment options & enable a pain-free mobile experience.
Not only that, don’t ever give up on the ones that got away. Entice them with better perks to tempt them into order completion. Bombard some Emails their way with discounts/offers that will sweeten the deal & make them return to finish the pending order.
In B2B, try to include a Bulk-ordering option, fewer form-fields & plenty of customizability options to enhance the likelihood of order placement.
Rather than wasting your buyer’s time by re-entering the same details from a previous order, offer a quick one-click reorder function in your eCommerce site. May even give this feature on the Account Page. A “recent order” function allows the ability to buy the same SKU’s all over again.
Poor eCommerce Site experience
Overall site experience can become a deal-breaker for any procurement officer. The User Interface decides the buyer’s retention times in place – when it fails to deliver the optimum experience, the buyers bounce. In most cases, they end up with your rival.
B2B buyers will not settle for a cluttered-messy eCommerce website anymore. The Digital revolution that has disrupted the B2B landscape is causing many companies to look for ways to innovate & remodel their eCommerce site.
Don’t get left behind – Strategize, Develop & Design an aesthetic site that, on a holistic level, informs and eases the way buyers interact with your business.
Insufficient Inventory Info
The products in your database must be as up to date as possible. Remove the OOS items and add all the latest items ASAP. Use an inventory management system to sort your goods, manage orders, synchronize data across all platforms, & improve backend visibility.
Monitor the inventory accurately & get better ongoing control; as B2B sellers now have constant eyes on inventory. What’s more, automation of this sort helps business owners understand how their products are faring. Finally, buyers won’t be disappointed after accidentally adding an OOS item.
Inaccurate product information
This leads to a state of confusion. Upon delivery, when products don’t match the buyer’s expectations, even though they were promised a specific standard/model can lead to devastating consequences for the seller.
Don’t put yourself in this spot. If you promise a set of specs, then ensure you honor that commitment. False advertising can backfire & even cause legal troubles. The spec sheet must be as crystal-clear as possible. Vague & Ambiguous data can lead to doubts & fears.
Inaccurate Shipping Information
Shipping is cited as the top reason for Cart Abandonment in the B2B sector. Today’s global B2B Buyer expects a merchant to be upfront about shipping fees & costs.
Offer Multiple Shipping Options, where possible. Also, ensure post-order transparency, by giving detailed shipping info with delivery time, order tracking & delivery notifications.
Communicate any unexpected changes ASAP; don’t leave your buyers in limbo.
Extend shipping methods, like ground delivery & same-day delivery, alongside B2B-specific ones, like warehouse pickup and LTL freight. However, offer buyer-specific shipping. Do not offer delivery options that aren’t relevant to your buyer. Even utilize Dropshipping to simplify your shipping processes.
Have FedEx, UPS, DHL Express, CargoX, UShip &, etc. to fulfill your consignment delivery. Let the size of the parcel dictate the carrier. Even use a storefront management system like ShipperHQ & manage your shipping requirements, with sophisticated shipping options.
Lack of Self-Service
Give buyers the ability to control, access, manage orders, track, & make changes on the move. Eliminates phone calls & frees your salespeople for more productive purposes.
86% of B2B buyers prefer a self-service portal than talking to a sales rep - McKinsey
Also, these self-care portals should provide staff with the ability to interact with buyers for that extra “human touch.” Over time, your buyers become more familiar with the online ordering process, making it easier for self-ordering without any support on your end.
Lack of Customization
B2B organizations are displaying stock options. Instead, try & sell at different prices based on customer type/group. You want to extend offers based on buyer segmentation. Set different rates & discounts for any product in your catalog & assign these to specific buyer groups.
Beyond this, even look to customize your login page. Buyers should instantly see the brand connection. From the landing page to shipping options, every component must be tailor-made to your buyer’s requirements. Make available more buyer-specific choices.
Fix an optimal experience for your customers, based on the metrics & analytics you uncover. Most buyers need a unique setup that cannot be delivered via shelf solutions.
Craft a buyer persona & then go on to present these buyers with tailored catalogs & ordering options. B2B Buyers nowadays seek eCommerce sessions that are more in tune with their identity.
Always treat your buyers with courtesy and radiate professionalism. Be willing to go the extra mile. For that reason, have in place a chatbot or find a way to be available 24/7. This sort of treatment will contribute to Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Every channel (email, Skype, Messengers, etc.) should be open for communication all the time. A query can pop-up anytime. As such, it is paramount that either a bot or human presence is around to handle it.
Product pricing is often not aligned with the contracted price. The most common mistake is to see the list price on the B2B eCommerce site and not the contracted price.
This makes the purchase process more awkward as every transaction/order needs to go through a price adjustment before the order can be fulfilled.
Also, the varying production rates mean the sales agreements are often mended to reflect the same. This would then cause further conflicts, as the difference from the earlier finalized rates and the new one can’t be easily covered. Which makes it impossible for the B2B buyer to go ahead.
Now that we are at the end of this write-up, you have gained a fair share of insight into the look & feel of a seller's B2B eCommerce site. A B2B seller in this day & age cannot afford to offer a Substandard experience on their eCommerce store. B2B sellers must align with the buyer’s mindset.
A layout too hideous, no product details, no images against the product, no certifications, no chat support & many such reasons have troubled a B2B buyer at some point & increased the seller's bounce rates. Ultimately, the sellers see a massive drop in revenue & profits.
Scaling your B2B eCommerce business doesn’t have to be complicated. What does help is knowing the most efficient & cost-effective ways to do it, along with the key metrics and KPIs you should pay attention to.
If your B2B company is unable to cope with the latest disruptors & finds itself trailing behind competitors, then get in touch with the eCommerce experts Virtina. To create a profitable B2B company, you’d need eCommerce specialists to guide your selling ways
We are equipped with resources & astute designers/developers, who, with their years of wisdom in every aspect of eCommerce across multiple industries & business types, will elevate the quality of your B2B eCommerce website — partner with Virtina to raise your topline revenue & profits.
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