We’re over a week into 2019; have you kept up with your new year’s resolutions? If your goals for the year include improving your B2B eCommerce site, we’re here to help! We’ve gathered some common objectives we help customers achieve in the hopes that it will help you check a few boxes off your 2019 to-do list as well.
Resolution 1: Improve B2B Customer Experience
B2B customers purchasing for work are, when it comes down to it, the same customers who also shop the B2C space online for personal purchases. These customers expect the same quality experience across the board, no matter if they are at their desk from 9 to 5, or on the couch at home after work. There are some features you can implement to achieve that experience, going beyond just a modern look and feel.
Intuitive Navigation and Search
One of the best ways to give your B2B customer a B2C-like experience is through search and navigation. Take inspiration from the B2C space and figure out where your customer is trying to go. Restructure your navigation and search functions to ensure that your customer can find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.
Searchers are your most valuable site visitors, so be sure to treat them well. Provide relevant results as well as recommendations to help simplify the purchase process. Keeping things customer-centric as opposed to product-centric will boost the user experience of your B2B site.
Regardless of the industry, customers like to feel as though their shopping experience is somehow personalized to them specifically. One great way to personalize the shopping experience is through product recommendations.
Using info gathered through search results and purchase history, provide shoppers with suggested items that might correspond with other products they are browsing. One way to implement this is through the Rule-Based Product Relations marketing tool in Magento Enterprise. This tool also helps promote cross- and up-sell opportunities, helping to boost the average order value of your eCommerce site.
Content and Product Information
While some aspects of B2B eCommerce may be more complex than those of B2C, it’s still important to help your customers help themselves as often as possible. One simple way to provide a self-service feature to your customers is through quality content and product information.
Catalog info can be difficult to manage, but quality content makes all the difference in a shopping experience. Outfit your site with detailed product images and helpful item descriptions to answer your customer’s questions before they even have a chance to ask them. Another tip is to provide a product comparison feature so that customers can compare items side by side to determine which is the better fit for their needs.
Resolution 2: Evaluate Customer Communication Practices
Effective communication is an easy way to create a relationship with your customers and keep them coming back for more. In a lot of B2B eCommerce situations, your CSR will handle the traditional order placing processes, leaving more complex issues up to your sales team. But, just because so much of the sales process is automated through eCommerce doesn’t mean you need to cut down on your communications with customers. It just means you may find new ways to keep in touch. Emails and chat functions can be helpful in defining the sales process and retaining customers.
The easiest way to integrate these strategies is to use an eCommerce platform that is already optimized for them. For example, Magento has transactional emails available out of the box. These communication points serve as the voice of your company. Whether it’s an order update, password reset, or newsletter, you can automate these emails to further improve your customers’ experience.
These points of contact can go beyond simple transactional emails. Do you have customers purchasing consumables? Why not send them an email reminding them to order a replenishment shipment? Or have your customer sign up for SMS updates on their order progress. Touches like that can make all the difference in your relationships with customers.
Another beneficial communication method is chat. From a quick question to product recommendations, chat is an easy way for your customers to get in touch at a time that is convenient for them. Keep in mind, however, that this option will require staffing to maintain it and respond to queries.
Just because you don’t have sales representatives talking directly to your customers every step of the way doesn’t mean you are shut out from them. Using these alternate forms of communication can maintain that contact in ways that are more intuitive to your customers’ everyday lives.
Resolution 3: Streamline Ordering and Customer Service Processes through Integration
One of the most beneficial things your B2B eCommerce site can do for your organization is take on the burden of order-taking and customer service. Think of the calls that your customer service center gets most often. Regardless of your industry or offering, many of those questions are probably along the lines of:
- Do you have this item in stock?
- What is my price?
- Where is my order?
The best way to answer these questions is to integrate your eCommerce site with your ERP.
It’s important to understand how your platforms work together to create a harmonious system and there are a few things to keep in mind for any integration.
10 Points of Integration for ERPs
Our standard integration strategy looks at ten different integration points and related business logic and processes. The goals of each project determine which integration point is needed, and how it is used within the overall project. Typically, our project use four to six integration points, but we have had projects with only one or two, and projects using all ten.
These points of integration are:
- Inventory balance
- Payment processing
- Order processing
- Order shipment order update
- Order history
Identifying how those data points will be communicated between the ERP and eCommerce systems will define your integration strategy.
A good example of an integration point is inventory availability. The first business decision to be made is whether or not the eCommerce site should expose inventory availability to the shoppers and if so, in how much detail. Not every eCommerce site does, and those that do use a few different methods for sharing this information. Some sites show the actual number of products available, while others share a red, yellow, or green status to indicate availability. Another option is to simply provide ‘In Stock’ or ‘Out of Stock’ identification on the site. These business decisions drive the type of integration required, and how timely the update needs to be.
Using integration points like these, you can set up your site to answer those common questions for your customers.
Do you have another B2B eCommerce resolution not mentioned here? Or is your goal to get a B2B eCommerce project started from scratch? Check out our guide to B2B eCommerce success.