The business-to-business industry is rarely considered glamorous. But don’t let its reputation fool you. Think of the almost-invisible wallflower who shows up to prom transformed and looking like a knockout. That’s B2B, and based on the numbers, it should stand for Big and Beautiful.
With more B2B buyers expecting to find what they need online, a growing number of B2B companies are embracing e-commerce. According to a survey by TradeGecko Pte. Ltd., 41% of wholesalers said e-commerce would be their top sales channel in 2015, up from 31% in 2014. In addition, 24% said they will sell online for the first time in 2015 (TradeGecko).
B2B Shoppers Have Higher Expectations
Shoppers have come to expect a customer-centric online experience, and B2B sites would be wise to step up their game. The addition of Amazon Business to the e-commerce scene only increases the pressure to act more like B2C. Why should shopping for work be any less efficient (and fun) than shopping for yourself? B2B buyers want a seamless online experience – even though the B2B path to purchase is usually more cumbersome.
The B2B buying process often requires in-depth research, approval from multiple stakeholders and possibly price negotiation. This combination of complexity and great expectations means your site has more chances to hit (or miss) the mark.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
Showcase Your Expertise
Nothing against your sales team, but your corporate web site is the first choice among executives for learning about business products and services, according to the 2015
Sullivan survey “Executive Buying Behavior.” Make sure potential buyers can easily find the information they desire, whether it’s demo videos, case studies, consumer guides or blogs. A superior site search experience will deliver product results and non-product content, so your visitors find everything they are looking for and more.
Go Anywhere, Be Everywhere
Work-life balance often means blurring the lines between both – and getting tasks done when you can. Research is no longer constrained to the dual-screen desktop at the office. Your customers might be traveling for business or couch surfing from the comfort of their home. Either way, go with them via their smartphone or tablet. As a bonus, the more mobile friendly you are, the higher you will rank in Google’s search page results.
Set a gold standard for customer service. While today’s B2B shoppers want to independently scope out what you’ve got, they also want to know you’re there when they need you. Make it easy to place orders, track orders, make payments, get answers to frequently asked questions, find technical documentation and talk to a real person.
For more tips on creating an exceptional online shopping experience that will win loyal customers, take a look at this B2B Industry Brief from SLI Systems.