The business-to-business marketplace is constantly evolving. While the consumer-driven B2C e-commerce scene is getting more and more advanced every day with players like Amazon and Netflix, B2B companies are accelerating too and expecting the same level of personalized experiences when buying online.
According to the Forrester predictions, total B2B e-commerce sales worldwide will reach $6.7 trillion by 2020, accounting for 27% of all B2B sales. Having a customer-centric omni-channel approach to digital strategy, personalization is a necessity - no matter whether you are in the B2B or B2C space.
Google surveyed approximately 3,000 B2B researchers and found the following surprising changes in the way purchase decisions are being made:
1. Nearly half of all B2B purchase research is done by millenials
2. B2B purchase researchers who are not in the c-suite influence purchase decisions
3. Mobile usage is intensifying: B2B researchers are using it throughout their entire path
How are you setting yourself up for a success in B2B sales? Here are 3 key areas that you as a B2B business owner should start focusing on.
Adding Product Recommendations
B2B retailers have been behind B2C businesses embracing the digital technology and personalization to the full scale. With the changing profile of the consumer - someone more tech-savvy and accustomed to highly personalized Amazon-like experience than ever before - businesses need to adapt and embrace this advancement in customer behavior, knowledge, and expectation.
The simple idea of adding recommendations to your site is about making it easy to discover relevant products. B2B e-commerce sites usually have a lot of products in their catalogs, and shoppers are rarely certain of all possible options. By incorporating personalized product recommendations, analysing user behavior, which includes data gathered through search results, clicks, add-to-cart, purchase history retailers can add recommendations that business consumers will embrace and use.
Example of good B2B e-commerce site
Creating a shopping experience that counts
B2B shopping does not have to be a boring and dry experience. Some companies are still used to sending paper catalogs to their corporate customers, but that is already changing. According to a study conducted by practicalecommerce, most retailers expect more than 50% of their business purchases to be made online by 2018.
Even if the goal of both B2B and B2C shopping experience is the same - to increase revenue and average order size, it's also about making the customer's shopping experience more relevant and time-efficient. Creating a self-serve e-commerce environment would reduce client service costs as much as possible. While in B2C e-commerce retailers use common merchandising rules like up-selling or cross-selling, personalized content on a B2B site should focus more on assisting a busy B2B shopper in doing everything faster and more thoroughly. For example, having a bulk-pricing calculator is a feature that every B2B retailer should have.
Being a B2B company, client base segmentation is one of the most important aspects of e-commerce segmentation. Product catalogues might be more difficult to manage, but by categorizing the product selection for each and every vertical of your business, adding high-res images and creating customized catalogs you can make a difference in a shopping experience and increase client conversion rate. Another great idea is to provide product comparison - so that customers can compare items side by side.
B2B landscape differs from B2C landscape in many ways. However the buyers are becoming more and more similar - having more control over the product research and purchasing power, so creating a personalized B2B experience is becoming more and more important.