In order to increase their customer appeal, more B2B ecommerce sites are refreshing their design and functionality to mimic some of the strategies employed by B2C ecommerce sites. For the most part, this is an effective strategy. However, B2B customers can have motivations and needs that are different from their B2C counterparts. In this blog post, we'll cover a few common reasons that shoppers are visiting your B2B ecommerce site – and what changes you can make to better appeal to these users.
B2B customers are often required to compare the cost of materials from multiple vendors before placing an order. Putting your prices front and center can help your customers finalize a purchasing decision. If price is not the competitive factor for your products, be sure to draw customer focus to the valuable differences or features of your products.
If you have technical content for your products (e.g. spec sheets, video demonstrations, performance testing results, etc.), don’t force users to dig for it. Keep your product pages organized and keep your content in a designated area to help customers easily find the information they need.
Ready to purchase
If a customer visits your site intending to place an order, don’t change their minds with a difficult checkout process. If your B2B customers place orders for large amounts of different SKUs, the B2C approach of including lots of product info (like images and descriptions) in the cart can add unnecessary complexity. A better approach may be as simple as an order form with fields for SKUs and quantities.
Making sure that your ecommerce site is compatible with mobile devices is critical for maintaining a good shopping experience – not just for your current customers, but also for new customers who may get their first impression of your brand through a mobile browser. While developing your strategy for mobile users, remember these guidelines for giving your customers the best mobile experience.
Size & Speed
On average, internet connection speeds for mobile devices are slower than desktops. More features and content take longer to load - and this time is emphasized for your mobile users. A feature-rich desktop version of the site is a great idea, you'll need to turn off some of these features on the mobile site to keep loading times down.
Screen real estate on mobile devices is limited. While working on the size and speed of your mobile site, consider how you can simplify the navigation. People love mobile devices because of their convenience, so as a general rule of thumb – the fewer steps it takes to find a product or complete a purchase, the better.
Mobile app vs. mobile website
Depending on the experience you want your customers to have, you may want to invest in an app over a mobile site. Compared to a mobile-friendly website, apps are more expensive to develop, but they can incorporate much more functionality without sacrificing speed. If you decide to create an app, it should provide an experience that is distinct from visiting your ecommerce site. Otherwise, customers will have little incentive to download and use it.
The main function of product pages are to provide users with the information they need to decide whether to purchase a product. There are many types of information you can add to these pages to make them more useful to potential customers, including:
Imagery & Video
Give shoppers something more than standard manufacturer-provided photos – which tend to convey only basic information about a product. In addition to using images that show customers as many models, colors, angles, and other variables as possible, include images or videos of the product in multiple scenarios (e.g. in use, before assembly, in storage, on display, etc.) to give customers more information.
Written descriptions educate shoppers about the product's functions and features, specifications, and advantages over similar products. However, you don’t want to frustrate your users with a wall of text - so keep your product descriptions short and to the point. When possible, try to let your images do the talking.
Whether positive or negative, reviews are an asset for product pages. Obviously, positive reviews reinforce a prospective customer’s decision to buy. Meanwhile, negative reviews give you the opportunity to help consumers who were unhappy with a purchase. Even if they do not respond or change their review, other readers will see that you made an effort and are sincere in your customer service.
For certain types of products (especially in the B2B space), users really appreciate technical product data like dimensions, weight, materials, instructions, and spec drawings.
Shoppers rely on various types of product information in their purchasing decisions. Your product pages should provide this information with as much clarity and detail as possible so customers can comfortably "add to cart" without needing to leave your site and find the information elsewhere – possibly from a competitor.
Returning customers provide the best ROI for ecommerce companies. While there are lots of things you can do to retain customers, it’s important to remember the primary factor that influences whether a customer will continue to order from you: do you provide a good customer experience? To answer this question and make any necessary improvements, you have multiple options for assessing customer experience.
One excellent method is to become your own customer. Contact your company for help with placing an order. Buy something from yourself and evaluate your checkout process. After the order arrives, call customer service to troubleshoot some issues. Go through your returns process. Evaluate what you see from this perspective and ask yourself which areas have the highest need for change.
You can also assess your customer experience by looking at collected feedback. To start, you can analyze the latest product return codes to look for common themes (or, you can decide to implement new codes to get more granular data). If your customer service department uses call monitoring and/or complaint logging/reporting, that’s also an excellent way to find areas of the customer experience that need improvement. Finally, you can always ask your customers for constructive feedback with survey tools.
Don't forget: your competition's offerings and customer expectations are always evolving. Since it's a major competitive differentiator, it's critical to periodically assess your customer experience and make improvements where necessary.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools for growing your ecommerce business. But it's not enough to just have an updated Facebook or Instagram page for your site. To be truly effective, your ecommerce site and your social media presence need to work together. By integrating social media features on your ecommerce site, and ecommerce features on your social media pages, you'll be able to grow the audiences faster than you would by treating them as separate. In this post, we'll look at some social media and ecommerce integration points and how they can enhance each other.
Social Sharing Plugins
This is a standard tactic you are likely already using, but it's a great example of social media/ecommerce integration. If you don't have them already, add social sharing buttons (like the ones at the top of this blog post) to your product pages and content such as newsletter articles, marketing emails, blog posts, etc.
Allowing users to log in to their ecommerce account using their social media credentials makes the registration and checkout process much easier. Social login also allows you to capture data about your website subscribers that you can use to customize your product recommendations and marketing emails to your customers’ interests and preferences.
Many social media sites have ways to funnel users directly to your ecommerce, like Facebook's "Shop Now" buttons and Pinterest's "Buyable Pins." If you use these features, don't forget to track their performance in addition to your other sales statistics.
Because it provides a convenience to most consumers, offering customer support through social media is a great competitive differentiator. It's also an excellent opportunity to engage with customers - even the ones who don't need support. By promptly responding to customer issues on social media, you're demonstrating your commitment to customer service to all your followers (not just the ones who need assistance).