Guest post by Marketing Strategist Jillian Hufford
More B2B merchants are embracing eCommerce selling. They’re shifting their online strategies to accommodate B2B buyers who primarily shop online and want a B2C-like experience. B2B merchants are learning that must embrace new technology and tactics to meet these new customer expectations.
Whether you’re new to online B2B selling or not, here are top tips to focus on to ensure you sell successfully.
1. Focus on Personalized Customer Experiences
Just like B2C, B2B buyers are looking for personalized shopping experiences. According to a recent survey, 50% of B2B buyers identified improved personalization as being a key feature for suppliers that they would want to work with.
What is personalization exactly? Online personalization is using what you know about your customers to tailor their interactions or experiences with you. For example, you should have a history of purchases, visits, locations and more. This type of information can be used to make meaningful product recommendations, promotions, email marketing, content marketing, or speeding up the check-out process. There are a lot of possibilities that start with gathering and acting on important customer data.
The goal is to make personalized experiences that encourage customers to make more purchases with you over your competitors.
2. Knowing Your Customer Buying Habits
There’s been new research available that shows the demographic changes in B2B buyers. As the market matures, more Millennials than ever are now involved in purchasing decisions. It’s no surprise then that a new demographic has its own set of shopping preferences. Hint, they want more B2C-like experiences like those they’re used to when shopping online for personal reasons.
To appeal to new B2B buyers, think about these areas:
- Detailed product pages with high-quality images
- Slick website navigation for product searches
- Fast, intuitive check-out processes
- Online product searches on marketplaces
- Mobile site-responsiveness
Your eCommerce site shouldn’t just be a portal to serve existing customers. Instead, your site should attract new buyers and turn them into loyal customers.
3. Growing Research Phase
According to the B2B Buyer’s Survey Report 2018, 45% of buyers stated that they “are spending more time researching purchases” compared to last year. What does this mean for B2B sellers?
You need to think about the content you’re providing customers and when. Many buyers are doing research on their own – whether its your website, blog, marketplaces, product pages, or customer review sites.
The key is delivering the right content to the right people at the right time. Understanding how a content marketing strategy works could be vital in your company to providing better content for customers throughout the research phase.
4. Upgrading Your eCommerce Platform
Online selling is no longer an afterthought for B2B. eCommerce is a long-term strategy to meet your business goals. Realizing this, many B2B sellers are looking to upgrade their eCommerce software. It’s no longer good enough to use third-party plug-ins for your ERP, legacy platforms, or B2C-software to try to make it work to meet your modern B2B needs.
Online B2B selling has unique requirements like customer-specific product catalogs, terms accounts, and price levels that demand certain functionality out of their eCommerce software. Luckily, there are more B2B-specific eCommerce software than ever before.
When evaluating B2B eCommerce platforms, you’ll want to consider:
- Responsive Design
- Self-Service capabilities
- Payment options
- Product catalog management
- SaaS vs Open Source software
Choosing the right platform takes time and research since it’s an investment in the long-term success of your business.
5. Integrating Your eCommerce Platform
Once you choose or upgrade your eCommerce platform, B2B merchants should also consider how that platform integrates into the rest of your business systems like an ERP or suppliers’ databases. System integration allows you to sync data between systems and automate key processes like inventory synchronization, order fulfillment, financial reporting, and product catalog syndication.
Without integration, most merchants stick to manually keying data from one system to the next. For example, they’ll take an online order and hand-key into the ERP for processing and then they’ll hand-key the shipping/tracking and inventory updates back into their eCommerce platform. You can see how a process like this is slow and prone to errors that can result in shipping the wrong item or the wrong address.
It’s important to know that some eCommerce platforms are easier to integrate than others. A cloud-based system with a strong API will be easier to integrate than proprietary software. As you evaluate eCommerce platforms, consider how it will integrate into your other systems and what process you’ll want to automate to ensure your operations are running smoothly.
Improving Your B2B Online Selling
While B2B online selling experiences growth, sellers still have a lot to learn when it comes to pleasing buyers. Hopefully these tips can help you choose what areas of your business to focus on.
nChannel empowers retailers, wholesalers and technologists with integration tools to sync data and automate processes between their eCommerce, ERP, POS and 3PL systems from inventory synchronization to order fulfillment and supply chain management.
About the Author
Jillian Hufford joined nChannel as their Marketing Strategist. Using both her writing and analytic skills, she assists the Marketing and Sales teams. Jillian performs competitor market research, provides analysis of key sales metrics, and writes informative posts on multichannel commerce trends.