When you decide to switch to B2B eCommerce, as well as creating a website there are a number of other factors you need to consider and address before you’re ready to make the move. Think about the changes you’ll need to make to operational systems and process to accommodate an automated sales procedure where customers can access product information, real-time stock availability, and place orders 24/7.
They’ll be some adjustments you can action internally, but other requirements may need to be incorporated into website functionality or integrations with exiting business systems. Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues.
Pricing – it’s critical that you’re able to present the correct price to every customer, every time. It’s often the most difficult part of a website build and also relies on the correct information being input at the start of the process.
In our experience, when moving to eCommerce, a lot of companies take the opportunity to review their entire pricing strategy in order to reduce complexity and streamline their approach. This can make establishing and maintaining your eCommerce site much simpler and easier, while also cutting build time and reducing the risk of errors. Where, for example, account-specific pricing is an important consideration, it’s vital to work with an eCommerce technology partner that has a strong track record in integrating sites with existing business and accounting systems.
Delivery – uncertainty and unexpected changes in delivery cost or timings are the main reasons why B2B customers abandon their cart at the checkout. What’s more, if your customers currently enjoy personalised delivery terms, you can’t rely on manual offline calculation of delivery timing and cost every time an order is placed.
Again, in our experience, in transitioning to eCommerce, many companies take the opportunity to review and streamline their delivery policy. In doing so, these companies aim for a standardised price and time for delivery within different product categories. It’s also important to be clear about stock availability – be upfront if a product is unavailable and tell buyers when it will be available again. And if you can’t standardise cost and timings, make sure to include customisable delivery options for each buyer.
Product information – buyers need easy access to all the product information required to make an informed purchase decision. It’s an area that you can’t afford to skimp on. You can get the product information you need for your site from a variety of sources, including transferring it from an existing catalogue and re-purposing, transferring it from an existing b2c site and adapting for a B2B audience (including adding details such as minimum volumes and discounts), or going directly to the product manufacturer and customising their content for your needs.
Make sure you include all the information your customers may need – consider all the questions that buyers ask before they buy. If you’re selling complex technical products, you may need to provide more information such as detailed specification sheets or CAD files. Your product information content will continually evolve, so don’t expect everything to be perfect on day one!
Product images – good quality, accurate product images are really important for online B2B buyers, and pack shots are also useful in helping them identify the products they’re looking for. You have a number of options for sourcing the images you need – from using manufacturer-provided photos, to hiring a professional product photographer, to creating all your images in-house. There are pros and cons for each option, depending on the nature of your products, their size and the detail that needs to be captured. These days, smart phone cameras usually provide the quality necessary for website or promotional use, but if you’re not familiar with taking your own product shots, it’s worth seeking professional advice on getting the lighting right, and also ensuring that the images are consistent in style and composition.
When you’re preparing images for your site, remember they all need to be the same ratio and the same size – although you may need to create different sizes for each image (thumbnails, product page and zoom, for example). Images will need to be paired with the correct products, either by uploading each picture to the product listing, or by using a naming convention to bulk upload at the same time. Your eCommerce website builder will be able to advise on the best way to upload photographs for their system.