Successful b2b ecommerce is not just about the great design or smart technology that goes into your website. It’s also down to how well you market your site and ensuring that your customers actually use it. In b2b, businesses can often be resistant to changes in the way they work, so given the advantages of ecommerce for both sellers and buyers, it’s important to work closely with your customers to encourage adoption and use of your online store. Here are a few thoughts on some approaches you can use…
Firstly, it’s a good idea to involve your customers in the development of your new site. Listen to their thoughts, their feedback and what capabilities they’d like to see incorporated. As well as being a worthwhile PR exercise, if customers feel like they have a stake in the way your site looks or functions, chances are they’ll be more likely to use it.
Before you launch your new site, you need to build customer understanding of your online offering and create excitement around the business advantages and added value it will deliver. Get your employees on-board and engaged with what you’re doing first, and consider the best ways to inform, educate and motivate your external audience – from email marketing and social media, to factsheets and animated explainers.
When you’re ready to take your site live, start by launching it to a small number of your most loyal and trusted customers to ensure their buy-in and adoption. Ask them what they think of the site, how comfortable they are using it, and where it could be improved. You can use the information and feedback they provide to enhance and refine your online store, ready for general rollout and promotion to a wider audience.
Before launching to your wider external audience, it’s essential to ensure that your own people are 100% behind the new site. They’re your front-of-house, your ambassadors, and the people who must have confidence in the site to successfully sell its benefits on to customers. You want your sales people to enthuse about it and talk through the features on their tablets or laptops when they’re out seeing customers. And you want your service team to put the site at the centre of their engagement with customers – for example, by answering queries with direct links to the right area of the site, or through live online chat.
With loyal customer early-adopters and supportive staff already embracing a new way of working, it’s easier to scale-up your site launch. You need to communicate your its story, the way it functions, how easy it is to use, and how its state-of-the-art features save time, effort and hassle by simplifying procurement. Clearly flag the major advantages for buyers and use easily digestible video clips to for any tutorials that may be required. Remember to keep communications open too, so that you can continue to act on valuable customer feedback.
There are many different channels you can use to reach customers and prospects and encourage them to visit and use your site – just focus on those that you know they’re more likely to engage with. If it’s email send informative email and special offers, if it’s face-to-face get your sales team in front of them, if it’s by phone start calling, and if it’s social target LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You need to be wherever your customers are!