We all know that B2B eCommerce isn’t going away anytime soon. But just because you’re aware of it doesn’t mean your company is excelling in it. How can you ensure that your B2B eCommerce site continues to grow with changing market trends and continue to be successful? A recent study from Magento focused on the growth of B2B eCommerce around the world included some recommendations to help grow your B2B eCommerce business.
Build the Business Case to Secure B2B eCommerce Investment
This is for those in the industry who are still starting out on their B2B eCommerce journey. In their study, Magento states that “companies are generating a growing proportion of their revenue directly through digital channels, but that there is an opportunity to drive significant incremental eCommerce sales further. Investment in B2B eCommerce requires a business case based on the top and bottom line.”
In order for your B2B eCommerce site to be successful, you need support from the entire organization. We’ve found that there are three key things to do when building support: define the strategy, engage the sales team, and crown your champion.
Define the Strategy
It’s important to ask a few key questions up front:
First, what is the site intended to do? Is it intended primarily to increase revenue, decrease costs, or improve customer satisfaction? These should be ranked in order of importance, with only one of these ranked as number one.
Does it align with the company mission and vision statements? Without that alignment, the project will not receive the support of the executive team, or anybody else in for that matter.
Can you measure the success? A B2B eCommerce site needs to have clearly defined measurements of success. This allows the project team to have explicit targets, allowing them to evaluate options and make decisions along the way.
Prior proper planning allows everyone within the company to understand the scope of the project, when each milestone will be completed, and most importantly why the project is being done in the first place. This sets a foundation and creates alignment within the company, so that everybody is working towards a common goal.
Engage the Sales Team
Often the sales team, particularly in a B2B environment, sees the new eCommerce site both as competition as well as a ‘toy’ that the IT department is playing with. Of course, neither is correct, and both views can be contagious within the organization. Given this, the project team must engage the sales team early and often to rally their support for the new site. Typically, once the sales team understands how the site aligns with the corporate goals, and how the site can specifically help them, they will embrace the project and the new site.
Crown Your Champion
B2B eCommerce projects touch almost every part of the organization: sales and marketing, operations, finance, and especially IT. There must be a champion for the B2B site; naming an eCommerce director will help to drive the project through to launch. Also, this key leader will ensure that the site is nurtured and continues to grow once it has been launched.
Ensure You Have eCommerce Technology that is Fit for the Purpose
“B2B eCommerce vendors need to deliver across a wide range of capabilities, from security and billing to content management systems and merchandizing. Ensure your technology platform offers the marketing-related functionality you require.”
One key part of your B2B eCommerce project will be picking the right tool for the job. You shouldn’t use an ill-fitting platform for your B2B eCommerce site.
We’ll admit that we’re biased when it comes to platform choice. After years in this industry, we’ve worked with enough bad options to know the good ones when we see them. But, ultimately, it’s the client’s decision and we can only help you make the most educated choice that you can.
Using a Platform as a Service or On Premise option is our top recommendation when it comes to launching a B2B eCommerce site. This option gives you the most flexibility and opportunities to integrate with services and tools, allowing you to have a site with everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Our On Premise platform of choice is Magento, which not only gives you access to an entire community of developers and third-party extensions, but provides triple redundancy, meaning your site won’t go down. That security is a lifesaver in an industry where downtime can cost your business significant money.
Plus, Magento has been singled out as a leader in the B2B eCommerce sphere by Forrester.
Focus Religiously on the B2B Customer Experience
As we’ve said before and as the Magento study states, “your business customers are consumers like everyone else. They have growing expectations about the ability of B2B companies to anticipate their needs and personalize the experience in a world where the tech giants and leading consumer brands have forced everyone to raise their game.”
B2B eCommerce shouldn’t be boring. There are a number of strategies you can use to ensure that your customers have a great shopping experience that keeps them coming back.
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.
These are just a few of the ways you can set up your B2B eCommerce site for success. Check out the full Magento report to see all of their recommendations.