This article was contributed by Hawksearch Partner, nChannel.
It’s no longer a secret that eCommerce presents a tremendous opportunity for B2B sellers. Many know that the space has projections to grow to $1.2 trillion by 2021 in the U.S. alone, making it twice the size of the B2C industry.
And just like the B2C industry, B2B online selling is a competitive space with demanding customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying eCommerce out for the first time or you’re looking to improve your current offering, you need top tips to follow on how to win online.
5 Tips to Win in B2B eCommerce
Not long ago, online selling was an afterthought for B2B sellers like manufacturers. Their websites weren’t much more than simple online portals for existing customers to place repeat purchases. Today though, B2B sites are turning into something much more.
With the many advantages of B2B online selling, merchants are turning their eCommerce sites into an integral part of growing their business. They’re using online selling to focus on increasing revenue and acquiring new customers, even by selling direct to consumers!
If B2B sellers want a piece of the $1.2 trillion eCommerce pie though, they’re going to have to think differently and sell outside of their comfort zones. Here are our top tips for B2B merchants selling online to properly prepare for success.
Think like B2C
Not unlike B2C, B2B buyers (especially Millennials) are turning to the internet more and more to research and buy products for their companies, just like they would for themselves.
74% of B2B buyers report searching at least half of their work purchases online.
If you want to get their attention, you’ll have to think like B2C sellers and find answers to these questions.
What search engines are they using to find products? Are they starting on marketplaces like Amazon? How are they using mobile devices throughout their search?
Once potential buyers land on your site, how easy is it to find products? How long does the checkout process take? How fast can you deliver? Are there different payment options available? How easy are returns?
These challenges are not unique to B2C, B2B sellers need to prepare for the same. It’s all about providing an intuitive customer experience online.
Choose the Right eCommerce Platform
While you might experience some of the same selling challenges of B2C, B2B merchants do have some unique challenges to overcome online like account terms and customer-specific pricing. Unfortunately, not all eCommerce platforms are equipped to meet the specific needs of B2B sellers. Knowing this, many B2B merchants are looking to upgrade their current eCommerce platforms if they have them.
57% of B2B executives said their top technology need for investment was an eCommerce platform, making it the highest reported need.
It’s crucial that B2B merchants vet their eCommerce platform options. You can’t compete by using a 3rd-party plug-in to your ERP system or a legacy eCommerce platform. Instead, you need a manageable software that can scale to handle the future volume of your business, while supporting specific needs for your B2B customers.
Read more about how to choose the best B2B eCommerce platform for your business.
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
If you haven’t heard of content marketing, then you’re missing out! Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Ultimately, content marketing’s purpose is to drive profitable customer actions like purchases.
If you’re planning on creating a whole new experience online and want to attract more potential buyers, then you should develop a thoughtful content marketing strategy. It’ll include all types of content like information on your website such as pages, product information, FAQ, return policy, blog posts, customer newsletters and more. When done right, a content marketing strategy is your ticket to increasing conversions online and retaining new customers.
Learn more about the benefits of a B2B content marketing strategy.
Personalize the Customer Experience
The majority of buyers don’t feel like their salespeople understand their business. And that’s a problem.
B2B buyers expect the same personalized treatment when shopping online for personal products. They want to be able to research answers to their own questions. They want relevant product recommendations. In short, they want to buy from someone who knows them.
B2B merchants need to organize and leverage their customer data such as their search history and past purchases. You’ll be able to make intelligent and relevant recommendations to encourage more purchases from buyers when they’re ready to buy.
Integrate Your Backend Systems & Automate Business Processes
If you have ambitious and serious goals to increase your eCommerce revenue, then you need to revamp more than just your front-end customer experience. Merchants should also look to revamp their backend operations to support complex multichannel selling capabilities, which is where integration comes in.
57% of B2B executives stated that eCommerce integration was another top technology need.
Integration providers like nChannel help connect your eCommerce platform and backend systems like an ERP or accounting system to automate your business processes. Integration enables you to automate listing of large product catalogs, order processing from single or multiple locations, inventory quantity updates online, and sending customers shipping/tracking information for their orders. It can also help with integration with suppliers, even ones you’re drop shipping with. eCommerce integration is key to scaling your business processes and providing the best customer experience possible.
Overall, B2B merchants need a solid strategy to turn their eCommerce business from an afterthought into a revenue driven channel. It’s all about the investments in the right processes and technology. If you consider these tips above, then you’re already on your way to creating an eCommerce experience you can capitalize on.
About the Author
Jillian Hufford is a Marketing Analyst for nChannel, provider of the simplest integration software to automate multichannel processes for B2C and B2B sellers. Using both her writing and analytic skills, she assists the Marketing and Sales teams. Jillian performs competitor market research, provides analysis of key sales metrics, and writes informative posts on multichannel commerce trends. She holds a BA in Marketing from Otterbein University. You can connect with Jillian on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jillian-hufford-a2173888/.