With expectations of digital experiences at an all-time high, here are 10 powerful benefits of launching and maintaining a comprehensive B2B ecommerce website for your organization.
Our personal shopping experiences have shaped our expectations for B2B buying experiences. Consumers have become accustomed to seamless, Amazon-like shopping experiences in their personal lives. According to a 2018 Forrester survey, B2B buyer appetite for digital ordering tools is increasing. More than 70% of B2B buyers find buying from a website more convenient than buying from a sales representative.
A report by McKinsey states the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have triggered a permanent digital transformation in the B2B market. Data shows that 80% of B2B buyers don’t plan to go back to in-person sales even after the pandemic.
Heightened expectations for powerful digital experiences are causing some manufacturers and distributors to panic. Most of them are realizing that to survive, they have to create a more robust digital commerce offering.
Though B2B buyers’ expectations have been impacted by the experiences they are used to in their personal buying lives, B2B and B2C ecommerce have important distinctions that companies must understand if they want to succeed. B2C ecommerce is all about maximizing sales. Though business-to-business ecommerce drives revenue, it is also about enabling your team and your customers to be more efficient.
Business-to-business ecommerce websites provide a way for your customers to purchase your products online, and a host of other benefits to your organization. Imagine your customers, dealers or distributors seeing both their online and offline orders in one place, managing their orders, budgets, seeing their pricing and available promotions through an online experience. Also, with the integration of a purpose-built B2B ecommerce digital experience platform, businesses can maximize efficiency, increase sales and improve customer experience.
Here are 10 powerful benefits of deploying an ecommerce site with an engine built specifically for B2B:
10 powerful benefits of a branded B2B ecommerce website
An effective B2B ecommerce digital experience platform will enable your organization to grow and scale easily to meet market demand and customer needs, by opening new sales channels and continuously reaching new market segments.
By creating and testing compelling content for your targeted B2B buyers, you can deliver value and quickly respond to changes in the market. Also, by adopting extensible B2B ecommerce cloud solutions, you can revamp your existing technology and significantly improve your marketing and merchandizing capabilities.
2. Improved efficiency and productivity
Through integration to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other back-end business systems, ecommerce provides marked efficiencies for B2B organizations. Since customers can order online at their convenience, businesses can focus on the actual customer service functions rather than simply being order takers.
Also, automated ordering and workflows eliminate the need to reconfigure data in independent systems, thereby reducing the possibility of errors. This further improves the efficiency of shipping processes and increases order throughput.
3. More Customers
A B2B ecommerce site with public-facing catalog pages is a powerful tool to reach new B2B customers. Your future buyers not only prefer to shop online, but will demand it. As B2B buyers head online to compare products and find the best prices, manufacturers and distributors can leverage the power of search engines to connect with them. By developing a responsive B2B ecommerce site with rich SEO-friendly content, you can locate new visitors and convert them into customers.
4. Improved Brand Awareness
A B2B ecommerce platform provides your business with an online presence, thus giving you control over your brand. This allows you to promote, grow and strengthen your brand both locally and internationally.
Although other external B2B market channels may generate additional brand awareness benefits, your branded ecommerce website is the main marketing tool for a sustained online presence and visibility.
Developing SEO-friendly content for your ecommerce site is a fast way to improve your site’s search engine ranking and improve the likelihood that your target audience will know who you are.
5. Increased Sales
A B2B ecommerce site not only helps you reach new customers, it also allows you to easily implement an automated cross-sell and upsell recommendation program. With this, you can increase sales by offering relevant suggestions to customers on the site and encouraging them to purchase related items, or items with more features and functionalities.
A well-designed ecommerce platform provides the right information to your customers, thus facilitating the ordering process. Also, by providing self-service capabilities, B2B ecommerce websites allow customers to order or reorder easily based on previous purchases, including negotiated prices and personalized preferences. This not only increases sales, but also improves the mean order values.
6. Analytics capability
B2B ecommerce provides a perfect platform for organizations to launch comprehensive analytics campaigns. Through ecommerce, organizations can easily measure and evaluate marketing campaigns, sales effectiveness, product mix, inventory turns, customer sales effectiveness and customer engagement. Google Analytics offers ecommerce tracking, but integrating analytics with your ERP as well gives you much more valuable data with actionable insights.
7. Customer-centric experience
Amazon.com sets the standard for providing an exceptional ecommerce experience and today’s online shopper expects an Amazon-like experience whether they are shopping for business or pleasure.
While there are certainly differences in experiences for retail shoppers and B2B buyers, B2B organizations still need to employ intuitive design, rich content and interactive functionality in their websites in the way of product recommendations and trends based on previous searches, merchandise based on holidays or themes and easy access to past orders, account settings, profile and wishlists.
8. Exceptional customer service
Ecommerce provides an exceptional opportunity for B2B organizations to improve their customer service initiatives. Ecommerce sites can provide access to self-serve portals with customers’ account, order, history and tracking information. Through integration with an organization’s ERP system, a robust ecommerce site can display customer-specific products, services and pricing based on customer login credentials.
9. Improved sales engagement
Your physical sales team will also benefit from the launch of a comprehensive ecommerce effort. A B2B ecommerce site or portal will improve your sales teams’ visibility into customer orders, pricing and history while traveling or working remotely.
With automated inventory management and order tracking, you can synchronize data across your ecommerce channels and provide accurate updates to your customers. This is a proven way to promote transparency, ensure faster delivery and improve customer experience.
10. Multi-site capability
While acknowledging that today’s shopping tendencies are mostly non-linear, it is important to provide an omnichannel experience to your customers with a B2B ecommerce platform. Usually, B2B buyers move from one device to another and across multiple platforms as they search for the products they need.
Launching channel-specific or co-branded ecommerce sites is easy with the right B2B ecommerce platform. This capability allows you to offer co-branded websites or microsites for each of your distributors or key clients as well as allow for sites that cater to a specific international audience by presenting content in alternate languages or currencies.
Digital experience platform for B2B ecommerce site optimization
Using the right B2B ecommerce platform is the key to an improved customer experience and increase in sales.
Optimizely’s Digital Experience Platform is a centralized, scalable B2B ecommerce platform that allows businesses to create and optimize ecommerce operations across multiple digital touchpoints. The platform is a combination of the content cloud, commerce cloud and intelligent cloud solutions.
Need to maximize sales by creating a seamless digital journey for your most valued customers?
B2B is not B2C – 10 Differences in eCommerce
Download our eBook, B2B is not B2C: Top 10 Differences in eCommerce, to learn more about the distinctions between B2B and B2C ecommerce.