B2B buyers comprise a unique set of consumers. Unlike B2C, B2B buyers are often faced with large, complex purchases that are impacted by multiple decision makers doing a large amount of research. Traditionally, B2B purchases would be made through sales reps, fax orders, or customer service representatives. Now, we are seeing a migration of B2B buyers toward online purchases instead of traditional buying methods. In fact, Forrester reports that 68% of B2B businesses prefer online research as the primary method for researching a purchase. With that kind of B2B consumer majority seeking to purchase online, you have a unique opportunity to position your product or service.
Build up the presence of your online products
The B2B channel shift presents an opportunity to take control of your product’s online presence. Use these tips to optimize your eCommerce site for B2B buying:
- Make your product easy to find. Make sure your site is structured in a way that prominently positions your product and allows for easy navigation. Your eCommerce platform should be optimized for search relevancy, filters, and sorts. Remember, listing your product features is important, but you also need the right data! Make it easy for consumers to compare products online, especially those with heavy technical specifications that cause differentiation.
- Provide rich product information and imagery – Displaying your product online gives you an opportunity to showcase the benefits and features in all their glory, so you want it to make an impact.
- Copy, imagery, and alternative views – Provide a rich description which anticipates any questions a B2B buyer might have. Be sure to use high-quality imagery that illustrates alternative views.
- Video and virtual product demonstration – Did you know that 70% of B2B buyers watch a video at some point in their buyer’s journey? Video content is highly valued by buyers doing research and helps to showcase your unique offering in action. Virtual product demonstrations are another easily accessible way for B2B buyers to see your product perform.
- Customer reviews and product ratings – Consumer reviews and ratings can do much of your sales work for you. If you have a strong product and exceptional customer support, these reviews can be a great asset as B2B buyers seek to weed out less favorable options.
- Product manuals and how-to guides – Online manuals and how-to guides communicate a dedication to excellent service and provide resources for buyers after purchase. Supportive literature helps to establish trust in your product.
- Optimize your product for mobile-friendly search In a world that is largely driven by mobile devices, your products must be optimized for mobile search if you hope to remain competitive. Forrester reports 65% of B2B buyers use smartphones to research work purchases.
Incentivize online B2B purchases
B2B buyers will come into contact with any number of competitors in their online research. One way to set yourself apart is to offer incentives.
- Free shipping – Free shipping is a powerful promotion. Consider the sweeping presence of Amazon whose free shipping with membership has transformed the eCommerce landscape.
- Pricing discounts and special promotions – Price is a hefty consideration as buyers seek to meet budgets and discounts/promotions could help differentiate you.
- Free trials – Buyers like the comfort of knowing that they can try something before they’re committed, especially when buying online.
Personalization and online tools drive B2B buyers
B2B buyers aren’t buying for leisure. They are busy consumers looking to solve a business problem. For this reason, B2B buyers want a wealth of online tools they can use for self service. These tools can optimize your eCommerce site for B2B buying:
- Tracking orders and shipments
- Access to quotes and purchase history reports
- Viewing and direct payment of invoices
- Online chat
- Managing of company credit
Implement AI and Machine Learning into your B2B toolset
B2B buyers face big, multi-faceted purchase decisions all while being burdened with day-to-day tasks. These large purchases often require that users collaborate while researching appropriate products, prices, and payment options. These experiences have always been possible, but with emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning, B2B buyers gain a powerful toolset and a simplified user experience. AI and machine learning make it possible to automate elements of your eCommerce site for B2B buyers:
- Customer-specific price lists and assortments
- Online request for quote (RFQ)
- Purchase approval workflows
- Quick order forms
- Support for subscriptions/replenishments
- Product configuration
- Pre-approved product lists for other buyers
- Buyer setup within their organization, such as assigning roles, permissions, and buying thresholds
- Program points and status tracking
The B2B user experience
User experience plays a key role in taking advantage of the B2B channel shift. It’s essential that you provide a streamlined experience at every touchpoint. Research by McKinsey reports that B2B customers “will regularly use six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey, and almost 65 percent will come away from it frustrated by inconsistent experiences.” This problem often arises from a disparate brand experience as buyers switch channels. It’s important to supply the same view of customer information to every single person who may have contact with a B2B buyer, such as sales people and customer service representatives. With the right eCommerce platform, you can easily standardize your content and align expectations for a consistent experience.
How is your B2B customer experience?
Are you losing business due to dated design or user experience? Work with us to optimize your site for today’s busy B2B buyers.