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.
There comes a time when ecommerce start-ups must take a serious look at their future growth. Breaking in to the biz can be easy, but success requires careful planning. A third-party fulfillment provider can lend you their experience and infrastructure to help you develop a strategy for efficient expansion - but you need to make sure they align with your business goals, brand objectives, and growth potential. To help you find the right 3PL provider that's in-tune with your goals, keep the following elements in mind.
Your logistics provider should be as flexible as your industry – able to grow and scale its services alongside your business. At Fulfillment Works, experienced account managers lead dedicated warehouse teams to master all aspects of our clients’ fulfillment needs – including their unique products, customers, and shipping policies.
Data is king, and you need to be able to access it even as your ecommerce site changes and grows. Ideally, a 3PL provider should have no problem integrating your current technology and software solutions to keep everything working seamlessly. Our online fulfillment management platform has limitless integration potential.
When your goal is strategic growth, you don’t want a fulfillment company who think of you as just another tenant renting warehouse space. In other words, you don’t want a 3PL provider – you want a 3PL partner, who understands your brand, business, and fulfillment challenges. At Fulfillment Works, we believe in providing a customized level of service. We have helped ecommerce companies both large and small reach their goals for growth. Contact us today with your specific challenges to learn exactly how we can help.
More and more websites are adding subscription order services for their customers. The model may benefit your current ecommerce site, or be the major feature for your next business. In either case, subscription fulfillment has some challenges that you may not come across in standard fulfillment operations. Fortunately, fulfillment providers like yours truly are uniquely prepared to tackle these challenges.
Take order volume, for example. Because of the predictable delivery cycle for orders, subscription fulfillment is subject to peaks and valleys of volume. One week, your warehouse is packing and shipping like mad to meet the subscription deadline. The next, everything is quiet as you prepare for the next subscription offering. Predicting volume from subscription to subscription can be difficult, so it's critical to have flexible warehouse space for storing inventory and sufficient labor for fulfilling orders. Because they work with multiple customers, fulfillment providers have the flexibility to scale space and labor to accommodate volume fluctuations easily.
It’s also important to get the logistical timing right for subscriptions. Subscription boxes are often promoted extensively in social media, so you’ll want to synchronize arrival dates so that subscribers in different shipping zones receive their orders at approximately the same time. This requires close communication and negotiation with carriers. Logistics is an area where Fulfillment Works excels – we help you to optimize your distribution network to reduce transportation costs and work with multiple carriers to negotiate competitive shipping rates.
Additionally, fulfillment providers are invested in warehouse management systems and data analyzing solutions. When you find the right fulfillment partner, you can leverage their resources without the overhead investment. As a result, you’ll be able to improve inventory management and process orders faster - ultimately, enabling you provide a better subscription service.
There are LOTS of moving parts under the hood of a well-oiled ecommerce operation. Try as you might, unpredictable situations are bound to occur. To help customers with common questions, have your shipping and returns policies outlined on your website. In most cases, an FAQ-style page allows you to clearly state your policies in a format that customers will understand.
When developing this content, your customer service staff should be able to provide frequently asked questions that are specific to your business. At minimum, you’ll want to address the following general areas:
Shipment lead time
Most online customers assume that their orders ship out the same or next day. If your average lead times don't fall into that timeframe, you should explicitly state how long it takes an order to ship. Otherwise, you may see a higher number of calls from customers asking about their order status.
Military destinations require customs forms for deliveries and restrict on the types of items they will accept. Plus, not all carriers deliver to military addresses. Clarify whether you ship to military addresses, which products are eligible for military delivery, the carrier used for military shipments, and any additional rules or restrictions.
Packages can be returned as undeliverable if the address is wrong or incomplete, or if the recipient refuses to accept delivery. Make sure your customers understand that it takes time to process packages that are returned as undeliverable - which can impact how long it takes to re-ship or issue a refund.