The B2B eCommerce industry is growing rapidly and is nowhere near its full potential. The global pandemic pushed more B2B brands to go digital in 2020, and the value of B2B digital transactions increased from $9.06 trillion in 2019 to $9.92 trillion in 2020, a whopping increase of 9.6%.
With such rampant growth in B2B eCommerce, the competition in the sector has significantly increased, topped by the challenges that come along while making the digital transit. Hence, it is imperative for brands to implement B2B eCommerce best practices effectively to stay competitive and grow.
We have already addressed the major challenges associated with the B2B eCommerce transition in the top 5 B2B eCommerce challenges and how to overcome them.
Here, we are highlighting the best B2B eCommerce practices that you can implement for your business.
Table of Content
- Buyer Experience
- Optimize your Product Catalog
- Sync Inventory in Real-Time
- Integrate your B2B sales channel with backend systems
- Content Marketing
Like B2C customers, B2B audiences also anticipate a smooth and personalized buying experience. The one thing common to an incredible buying experience for all business types is an easy-to-navigate website with clear messaging. Acme, for example, is an outstanding example of what minimalist design can do.
Far from clutter and chaos, the website has an impactful tagline, fixating feature image, clear categories, and an overall robust UI as you browse through their product offerings. If your business offers multiple products and services that would probably require some explaining to do, here’s what you can do:
- Build detailed how-to guides and answer B2B customers' FAQ
- Create personalized content for each target segment
For example, cloud infrastructure company VMware publishes content on its blog and user guides. It uses an AI-powered editor, to provide personalized article recommendations to each customer. This ensures that each group receives content that is most relevant to them.
Another example of a B2B organization providing personalized service is the management software company, ServiceMax. The brand caters to a wide variety of industries, each with its own unique needs. To provide them with a more personalized experience, the company uses machine learning technology to quickly identify a website visitor’s purpose. Once the intent is identified, the customer is automatically routed to pages that are relevant to them. This creates a more convenient buying journey.
- Provide social proof to potential customers
Millennials make 73% of all B2B buying decisions. The case studies you choose to display on your website should clearly explain what your business provides to help a client solve a problem. Now, this part is quite important as it helps visitors identify if your offerings match their requirements. So, make sure that your case studies are crisp and clear to the potential customers.
One B2B company that extensively uses social proof is Soasta. Their case studies clearly state the challenges their clients faced, the solutions they provided, and the final result. Most of their case studies are in the video format and it works for them because the engagement of videos is far more than that of the textual content.
Case studies in video format are widely adopted by a number of B2B brands. One such brand is Kantar, a leading consulting firm, that created a video case study to explain how they work with Samsung.
Check out this link to watch the complete case study.
To further build trust, you can also leverage user-generated content. This includes all blog posts, reviews, photos, videos, etc. that feature your brands. Building customer communities or forums allow customers to get the most out of your product and makes prospective customers believe that you are committed to your product offering.
Adobe has created forums for its different product offerings wherein its customers can interact with each other.
- Offer different incentives to buyer segments
This can help you drive volume, increase conversion rates and average order volume, and even help you clear out excess inventory if required.
- Allow B2B customers to pay in installments
To improve your B2B buyer’s customer experience, it is important to allow payments in installments. Since the order volume is high in B2B orders, the total invoice amount is also huge. Installment payments make it easier for your customers to break down their costs.
- Provide mobile tools/portals to B2B customers
This can streamline the entire B2B order management process and help you build customer loyalty. The portal should make order processing as user-friendly as possible for the customer while ensuring that the suppliers can seamlessly manage bulk orders.
EasyEcom’s B2B portal allows B2B businesses like you to receive orders from B2B customers directly and enables you to process B2B orders at a faster rate. Not only this, you can easily track the orders that are completed or still pending.
It also gives you access to view customers’ past order lists and provides them with various payment options.
To help you increase your average order volume, the portal creates a sense of urgency for the B2B customer to place their order by showing specific messages like “Less Stock Remaining” once the inventory count is below the threshold limit you set.
It can improve your sales team productivity by providing them easy access to information regarding all B2B customer accounts, monthly sales, and pending orders.
To enhance B2B customers' buying process, the portal provides them access to view your catalog and inventory availability. This helps them make their inventory purchase decisions timely. B2B customers can place orders, check order status, make payments, etc. on a single portal easily.
- Human Touch
What many businesses fail to understand is that even in the B2B industry customers are eventually dealing with humans only and they need to be reassured of that.
To humanize your brand enough for the customer to trust, try replacing the majority of the business jargon with everyday words in all your communication with your prospects. Better yet, use the words that your prospects are using while interacting with you.
Just like B2C Customers, B2B customers prefer communicating with a person rather than an organization. This concept has been tested out by Hubspot.
Hubspot’s opt-in email messages sent to customers from the company led to a click-through rate of 0.735, whereas when the email was sent from a real person the click-through rate increased to 0.96% and generated 292 more clicks.
So next time when you are planning to send emails to your potential customers or existing customers, send them from an actual member of the team.
Optimize your Product Catalog and have a user-friendly website
It needs to be easy for the customer to browse through your website and find products that they are looking for. Using customized pricing based on segments and displaying recommended products based on past purchases can really go a long way in increasing average order volume, and the chances of repeat purchases.
For example, the V-Belt Guys, by optimizing their website helps B2B customers find products easily.
V-Belt Guys search strategy includes three separate invitations to submit a query on homepage, word auto-completion, and enables customers to view product images and prices while they type.
The customers can select “See all results”, to get a full-screen experience complete with price comparisons, bigger images, and detailed product descriptions.
To further enhance the customer buying experience, V-Belt Guys provides customers with key search elements like Part number, manufacture or brand, part or full product title, product type, and item details.
The website assures that customers can find exactly what they want easily in minimal time. This improves customer experience and eventually leads to repeat purchases.
Sync Inventory in Real-Time
Keeping a track of inventory levels across channels is a complicated task, and nothing is worse than informing your customers that the items they purchase are not in stock. Therefore it is important to sync inventory levels across channels in real-time.
Real-time inventory updates are essential in both B2C and B2B but are certainly more critical in the B2B industry since the order volume is very high.
The benefits of real-time inventory sync are:
- Customers know the exact quantity that is available. This helps you avoid over-selling
- B2B brands can view inventory availability of all products on a single dashboard. This helps improve purchase planning decisions and avoid under-stocking or over-stocking.
Integrate your B2B sales channels with your back-end systems
eCommerce integrations will connect your eCommerce platform to other business systems like finance, accounting, inventory, order fulfillment, and shipping. Integration of back-office functions with sales channels at a single platform leads to better coordination of back-office functions and front-office activities like marketing, sales, and customer service.
Benefits of eCommerce integration:
- Helps to maintain an accurate record of customers, product, order details, and shipping data without entering data manually
- Helps manage inventory effectively and keeps inventory levels consistent across channels, thereby providing customers a better omnichannel buying experience across channels, devices, and touchpoints.
- Improves customer service by providing them information regarding products, pricing, stock availability, and live order tracking.
- Makes it easier to expand to additional business models without disturbing existing channels.
Hence, integrating all your back-end systems will help you streamline your operations and help you focus on improving your customer experience and growing your business.
Synching inventory in real-time and integrating B2B sales channels with your back-end systems are two major B2B practices that you should carefully implement. The best way to go about it is using a cloud-based inventory software. At EasyEcom, we offer an omnichannel inventory management solution with integrated B2B order management for your eCommerce business.
Whenever we talk about eCommerce strategies, content marketing always makes it to the list and B2B is no exception. One might argue that content marketing engages better when dealing with end consumers (B2C, D2C) but it will surprise you to know what the data has to say. Content marketing generates more leads for B2B businesses than any other traditional marketing strategy, as confirmed by 74% of companies worldwide. If done efficiently, it can improve your marketing team’s lead quantity and quality.
Hence, it's crucial to constantly improve the content you can publish across all channels. While establishing your status as a strong B2B brand, regularly publish unique and engaging content that represents who you are and what you offer. This not only attracts your target audience the fastest but also encourages them to make a purchase.
With eCommerce, it is now simpler to use different content formats like product pictures, product sheets, videos, infographics, etc to provide your customers the information they want and in the format they like. You can also make use of the audience experience to publish unique case studies or better yet, user-generated content.
There are many B2B brands that are successfully implementing Content Marketing to increase brand awareness and improve lead generation. One prominent example is Scripted, an eCommerce marketplace where businesses can hire writers.
To differentiate itself from its competitors like Upwork and Fiverr, and create its brand image as the “best place to find writers” Scripted developed a content marketing strategy that focused on each step a buyer underwent.
Here is the breakdown:
Also, check out this infographic to know about other marketing strategies that you can implement to grow your B2B business.
Here is a list of few important things that should be factored in for a successful B2B eCommerce business:
- Have a dedicated eCommerce team. B2B business is very complex, hence, requires focused attention.
- Have an IT Team that supports your eCommerce business.
- Your B2B eCommerce goals should be well aligned with the company’s goals. This ensures you will have executive backing, and hence are more likely to get timely budget approvals.
- Have a separate P/L statement for your eCommerce sales. B2B eCommerce needs to have its own budget and financial books. The profit and loss statement will give your project more financial clarity and is extremely important if you want to expand your B2B eCommerce segment.
That’s a wrap on some of the major B2B best practices that one must keep in mind for running a successful eCommerce business. Look for the next set of B2B eCommerce best practices. In the meantime, you can check out this article to know more about B2B eCommerce challenges and how to solve them.
If you are looking for an omnichannel inventory management solution with integrated B2B order management for your eCommerce business, drop us a line at email@example.com or directly sign up for a demo here.