B2B eCommerce solutions often focus on repeat business with customers who have an established and sophisticated buying cycle. The frequency of repeat orders, credit lines and customer-specific contracts has lagged behind its B2C counterpart in terms of uptake and development.
Despite this, many companies are now discovering an important eCommerce secret – your B2B customers are primarily B2C consumers who expect a buying process that is as familiar, simple and intuitive as B2C eCommerce.
Exceeding Expectations with your eCommerce Solution
B2B eCommerce solutions should function as part of a multi-channel approach that afford customers:
- 24/7 ordering with ease-of-access through self-administered customer portals
- Product availability, details and visualisations that aid in product evaluation
- Point-and-click ordering, re-ordering and contract renewal
- Order statuses and order tracking
- Personalised interfaces that utilise B2C merchandising through product recommendations etc.
Your existing ERP and CRM systems are an oft-overlooked goldmines when it comes to providing the kind of data needed to enhance functionality and optimise the conversion funnel through features like intuitive user portals. These can provide recommendations, related products and simplified buying processes as well as guided selling in the form of instructions, auto-fill forms, on-line support and feedback channels.
Secret 1: Use B2C Merchandising Methods to Acquire New Leads
Those with sophisticated buying cycles are still fickle creatures where the web is concerned; use this to your advantage:
- The option of ordering through a Guest account means you retain details without customers having to commit to registration – this will help you acquire many new leads.
- Formulate an organic and paid SEO strategy based on CRM data – these solutions make it easier for potential customers to shop around.
- Use new customer order history to generate recommended products, personalised offers and discounts on related products
Secret 2: Optimise Ordering Through Self-Administered Customer Portals
Make all steps in the buy process as simple as possible, giving clear instructions and providing click-to-dial and click-to-order features. And remember, the more options you give customers, the more accurate your information.
- Allow customers to manage, update and track orders so your customer services team don't have to.
- Create buyer preferences, such as preferred methods of contact and shipping as well as areas of interest and expertise
- Provide the means to create re-orders and to easily renew contracts, freeing up your customers to consider other products or services
Secret 3: Becoming a Familiar Face
Just like in B2C commerce, loyalty is generated through trust, approachability and an enduring customer-supplier relationship. These solutions can sometimes remove that essential element of the human touch, which is why features like click-to-dial functionality are important.
- Provide staff photos and bios alongside means of contact
- Personalise, personalise, personalise; from a welcome message upon logging in to a user account to follow up emails asking for reviews of the service provided, let your customers know they are as valued as they would be in any B2C relationship
- Don't neglect tactics like email marketing, tailoring things like newsletters around CRM data
Even with the prevalence of repeat business, customers still expect the kind of functionality and features of any other form of eCommerce. B2B eCommerce is as dependent on responsive, personalised and intuitive processes, and your existing CRM and ERP systems are often the first port of call when it comes to optimising B2B eCommerce solutions.