When b2b customers buy online, they tend to adopt a different approach to b2c customers. There’s little emotion in their purchasing decisions, they are logical, practical and based around choosing a supplier they can trust – a supplier that ticks the most boxes in relation to product and cost, offers the most flexibility, and delivers the best service.
That’s why the b2b eCommerce experience needs to focus on communicating as much useful information as possible in the shortest time, while creating an overall impression that inspires confidence among buyers. With this in mind, here are a few things to consider that might help you develop a more successful approach to b2b eCommerce.
Business-to-business eCommerce platforms need to incorporate sophisticated processes and technology capabilities to support the configuration of complex pricing options, different product combinations, varying contract terms and multiple payment options. You need the ability to set individual business rules and create workflows that deliver account-specific pricing, approvals, and governance processes.
In fact, the ability to offer a highly personalised service through your site is key. According to Gartner, by 2018 b2b companies that use personalisation effectively on their eCommerce sites are forecast to outsell competitors that fail to use the same levels of personalisation by nearly a third. The display of personalised information for b2b buyers is usually facilitated by the need for them to log in to a site in order to make a purchase.
Once they’re logged in, you know who they are, where they work, what they do and what they’ve previously bought. The system can easily access their complete profile, so with the right technology (such as a platform that integrates with business accounting systems like Sage or Pegasus) it should be straightforward to enhance the customer experience and improve the customer journey.
For example, this could include the creation of a customised catalogue, individual pricing, specific discounts and tailored promotional offers. Targeting content on your home or landing pages can help to drive engagement, so the ability to segment customers by industry type or job role is also a useful feature. In addition you might want to offer a short-cut re-order facility based on previous purchases, and the ability to pay invoices or check account details.
Fully integrated b2b eCommerce solutions like those mentioned above should be a strategic priority. Integration enriches the customer experience with increased visibility into the supply chain to provide a consolidated omnichannel order history, integrated order processing and on-demand reporting. Automating the dialogue between your eCommerce platform and your business systems provides customers with a real-time stock position, while cutting the time required to display and update online product catalogues. So as well as improving customer engagement, you also improve operational efficiency.