E-commerce is rapidly increasing in popularity. By 2040, it’s estimated that 95% of purchases will be facilitated by e-commerce - that’s across both B2B and B2C. And B2B sales appear to be increasing faster than B2C, with B2B sales surging by 18% in 2019 in comparison to 16% for B2C retail.
As the industry’s evolving so quickly, it’s clear you need to up your e-commerce strategy game if you’re going to keep up. Or better, stay ahead. There are two key areas you must consider: tactics and tools. And within that, there are 11 considerations:
- Add more detailed, accurate production information
- Make on-site searching easier
- Optimise for mobile
- Improve your customer service
- Offer flexible ordering and pricing options
- Make it easier to find customer testimonials and reviews
- Don’t underestimate social media marketing
- A CRM to manage your customer data
- An ERP to centralise your data
- A PIM to manage the products/services displayed on your website
- A CMS to ensure a seamless online experience
With any tactic you choose to implement, you must keep customer experience (CX) in mind. And the majority of B2B leaders agree, with 90% believing CX is key to their companies’ strategic priorities.
1. Add more detailed, accurate production information
Clear product information help your customers in their decision-making process. Think high-quality images, interactive media, accurate stock levels - anything to correctly represent your product/service.
2. Make on-site searching easier
Customers don’t have time to scroll through hundreds of product/services listings. Improve their user experience by making it easier for them to find the listings relevant to their needs.
For example, personalise search results based on your customer’s search or purchase history, what they’ve previously interacted with on your website or what similar customers have found useful.
3. Optimise for mobile
Like B2C customers, the B2B audience also enjoy the convenience and freedom of researching and purchasing products/services on their phones. It’s not just about creating a slick mobile user interface; it’s about also ensuring mobile users can access the same features as they can on desktop.
For example, the same intuitive search capabilities, filling out forms easily and speaking on live chat.
4. Improve your customer service
Customers are four times more likely to stop purchasing from a company or brand after just one bad experience. So, provide excellent customer service by offering a range of ways for your customers to reach out to you, such as live chat and a chatbot (ideal for serving customers outside of working hours).
Then, ensure either the query is resolved the first time or if the query has to be passed around, ensure that each customer service representative knows the product/service history without needing to ask the customer again.
5. Offer flexible ordering and pricing options
As you know, B2B customers have complex needs and particular product/service specifications they’re looking for. Try to meet them halfway by offering some degree of flexibility, such as with your ordering and pricing options.
For instance, bespoke packages and a variety of payment options (monthly, quarterly, annual retainers etc) can go a long way towards closing that sale.
6. Make it easier to find customer testimonials and reviews
Most B2B customers aren’t looking for a one-off relationship. They want a longer-term partnership but they want to be sure they’re making the right decision. Enter case studies, customer reviews and testimonials, with over two-thirds (67%) of B2B customers relying on peer reviews.
Your next step is to ensure these materials are easy to find on your website.
7. Don’t underestimate social media marketing
A B2B customer experience by Accenture found 58% of B2B customers use social media as a research channel. So, don’t neglect your social media channels.
Share a mixture of materials (such as blog posts, eBooks, case studies and product demo videos), host live webinars/discussions with other thought leaders on Instagram and Facebook, post polls and more - all to show off your expertise and drive engagement.
Complement your e-commerce tactics with the right tools…
8. A CRM to manage your customer data
When it comes to customer service, you need to be giving customers the answers to their questions as fast and accurately as possible. If you have to pass a customer query onto another customer service representative, the second rep should have all the information gathered by the first rep. In other words, the customer shouldn’t be repeating themselves - the second rep should pick up where the first left off.
That’s where a CRM is most beneficial as it brings customer information into one place. Centralised customer data means your teams have a 360-degree view of customers and are empowered to provide increasingly personalised experiences.
9. An ERP to centralise your data
Siloed data is no good for business productivity and efficiency. If you can integrate your e-commerce platform with your ERP, you’re enabling information to flow smoothly and freely between the two systems. No more data redundancy, human errors and productivity losses as a result of employees searching in multiple places for the information they need.
Your customers also gain more autonomy, such as viewing accurate stock levels, automatic notifications on order status changes and more, which boosts their experience and satisfaction.
10. A PIM to manage the products/services displayed on your website
Managing multiple product/service lines and their accompanying data isn’t easy. A PIM system simplifies this by bringing the task into one place. You can view all of the products/services on your website and make edits as required (e.g. updating product descriptions, adding or removing photos, videos, etc).
With the right PIM, you can enhance your customer experience and satisfaction as your product information can always be kept accurate and up-to-date.
11. A CMS to ensure a seamless online experience
Make sure your website (AKA your digital shop window) is always looking and performing its best. With a CMS, you can optimise your website content according to fast-changing customer trends and ensure your brand is relevant and outperforming the competition. You can also monitor your customers’ online activity, such as how they navigate around the website, and use that knowledge to ensure your site navigation is as convenient as possible for your customers.
The best CMS platforms will not only be user-friendly but also allow you to tweak your content without the need for coding or developing knowledge.
Interested in more advice on the best e-commerce strategies?
The 11 tactics covered in this blog are just the beginning. Digital experience experts Optimizely joined us for a webinar to discuss how to formulate a winning B2B e-commerce strategy.
In the webinar, my colleagues James and Thamar, and Nazanin from Optimizely coveredall things e-commerce tactics, from the differences between B2B and B2C strategies and examples of businesses who are doing it right.
Click the button below to watch the video!