84% of B2B decision makers see the increasing digital expectations from their customers and partners as a top external threat. That’s why your e-commerce strategy matters, even for manufacturers that may attribute much of their profits to returning customers and referrals.
Your customers are expecting more from you regarding their digital experience so you must give them what they want or their eyes will wander to your competitors. Here are five strategies and tactics that can help you succeed in B2B e-commerce.
- Ensuring your website is streamlined and user-friendly
- Providing self-service opportunities
- Making it easy to do business with online
- Offering an exclusive, personalised experience
- Being customer-centric
1. Ensuring your website is streamlined and user-friendly
Your business’ website is one of the most effective ways to reach out to your B2B customers. That’s what a survey by Episerver (that looked at the B2B digital experience) found - 24% of B2B businesses in the e-commerce sector ranked their website as the top marketing channel to help them reach their customers.
Maximise the potential of your website by ensuring it’s user-friendly, straightforward and streamlined. Here are some considerations to illustrate what we mean:
- High-quality product imagery
- Detailed, accurate product descriptions
- Inclusion of other media to support your products/solutions (e.g. video demos, interactive imagery that allow customers to view a 360-degree view of the product etc)
- Simplified navigational menu
- A search bar
- An uncluttered design so website visitors can easily find what they need (and you can direct their attention to what you want them to notice)
Check out some more elements that make a successful e-commerce website here.
2. Providing self-service opportunities
When asked how B2B companies can make it easier to do business with online, 41% of customers admitted wanting self-service functionality. It makes sense - modern-day customers want the peace and freedom to research and explore their options alone.
As well as not trusting salespeople, B2B customers don’t want to reach out to a company and have to wait for a response. Put yourself in their shoes - would you want to have to wait 1-2 business days for a response to a query as (theoretically) simple as putting together a CRM tech stack?
Plus, not only will self-service functionality please your customers, it can also boost your customer-facing teams’ productivity. They may receive fewer customer queries and can focus on helping the customers who really require their attention.
3. Making it easy to do business with online
Speaking of making it easier to do business with online, if you can simplify your customers’ buying journeys, you improve their experience with your brand and boost loyalty. A streamlined website (that we mentioned in an earlier point) is an example of this.
Another is a short, straightforward payment path. Your customers don’t want to have to jump through many hoops to check out. They want to pay and they want to pay right now. Each step you add raises the chance of shopping cart abandonment so you want to keep the checkout process short and sweet.
4. Offering an exclusive, personalised experience
Subjectively, 91% of B2B customers think they receive a better experience when a website is personalised to them. Objectively, 93% of B2B companies can attribute personalised content to revenue increases. The point we’re trying to make? Personalisation is worth it.
Some ways you can offer a personalised experience include:
- Product/solution recommendations tailored to the individual customer (e.g. based on their purchase, search and customer service history)
- Recommendations based on what customers of similar profiles have purchased/interacted with
- Greeting your customers by name when they return to your website
We’ve written a blog post on how manufacturers are using personalisation which you can read here.
5. Being customer-centric
Almost a quarter (24%) of manufacturers believe the digital experience they offer doesn’t meet their customer expectations. And yet, customer-centricity is vital to protect the long-term viability of your business.
Here are some ways you can keep your customers at the heart of your manufacturing operations and decisions:
- Invest in the digital experience - what kind of experience do your customers want to see on your digital channels e.g. website and social media? The messaging on your website is a good start
- Design your products/solutions with your customers in mind - what pain points/challenges are your customers wanting to solve and how can your products/solutions help?
- Improve your products/solutions with your customers in mind - similar to the above but as well as creating new products/solutions, don’t forget to improve your older ones too. Not every customer will want a brand new product/solution; some may want an updated version of the one they already have
Is your manufacturing business’ e-commerce strategy on track to succeed?
In the e-commerce space, B2B businesses say their digital experience is a top factor that differentiates their company from competitors. Despite this, there’s still room for improvement. For example, not all the tactics being used by B2C businesses can be ‘copied’ by B2Bs because there are differences between the two types of customers and their buying journeys.
To ensure your manufacturing business’ e-commerce strategy is primed to get you the best ROI, check out our ultimate guide to e-commerce for manufacturers. We cover what the 21st century B2B customer is looking for and tips to help you build the perfect strategy to suit your business.