Winning out market share over competitors in an online B2B e-commerce space is no easy feat. To achieve success, an organization must have an innovative and functional e-commerce platform with no “set it and forget it” mindset. It’s a hybrid of intelligent design, expert architecture, and catering to your customer. The ones who do it best keep the customer at the heart of every decision. As I’m reminded by the Yoda posters adorning our engineering department, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Here’s a quick hitlist of key ways to serve B2B customers online, and do it well.
- Get to know your B2B customers. Knowing a customer’s personality, likes, dislikes, habits, and trends is an obvious part of e-commerce. There are several ways to learn more about your customers, including:
- Website surveys
- 1:1 customer sessions (online or on the phone)
- Customer council groups
- Developing online personas
- Mapping customer journeys
- These activities should continue throughout the build phase and post-launch to continually ensure that customer needs are being met.
- Keep it simple, and stick to products and prices. The top priority for facilitating B2B e-commerce is to ensure fast access to products and prices.
- Ensure that your search engine is both prominent and predictive.
- Clearly lay out prices and products.
- Include predictive typing.
- Ensure that your navigation bar tells your customers what you sell.
- Offer easy-to-use quote interface for both sales force and customers.
- Invest in great content. High-quality imagery helps reveal both the quality and authenticity of your products. The more your customers have upfront, the more likely they are to order and the less likely they will be disappointed.
- If customers can see the details and craftsmanship, even for commodity products, they are far more likely to purchase.
- 360-degree views and video can generate even more transactions.
- Invest in product specifications and manuals.
- Show availability and shipping speed.
- Don’t forget SEO research; make sure your product descriptions include keyword-rich copy.
- Provide a friction-free check-out process. Be easy to do business with. The check-out process should be:
- Clearly outline purchase, billing, and shipping information
- Have a visually uniform and concise payment and order options
- Easily accessible
- Require minimal information entry from the customer
- Work the way a user would expect
- Test, and test again. Successful B2B website designs are efficient, consistent, and transparent. Relying on outdated designs is why companies fall behind.
- Figure out what current and prospective customers want and need from your site.
- The best way to explore this is with A/B tests of different variations of your layouts.
- Make data-driven design decisions.
In a survey of 357 senior-level executives representing a wide range of functions and industries conducted by Forbes Insights, only 6% said that they are currently capable of seeing the entire breadth of their customers’ experiences. To serve your customer well, you must have a full picture of their journey, from consideration to purchase.
There are a lot of players in the proverbial B2B e-commerce sandbox, but far fewer are reaching their business goal potential. Has your organization taken the B2B plunge yet? How are you successfully serving your online customers? Anything we’ve missed?
Want to get in the game? Contact us to learn how.