How to improve the e-commerce experience for B2B customers
In 2022, B2B buyers will demand better digital experiences. They want a B2B customer experience similar to the B2C customer experience they enjoy with in-person purchases. A survey of B2B customer expectations conducted by Insights World Research and Oro Inc. showed that the demand for online B2B shopping is skyrocketing: more than 80% of respondents said they intend to make at least 50% of their purchases on e-commerce sites in the next 12 months.
The survey also found that companies need to improve the experience of B2B buyers. The top pain points B2B buyers cite in their shopping experiences are: lack of personalization (39%), lack of real-time inventory information (38%) and lengthy shopping processes (34%). Therefore, e-merchants have an interest in improving their B2B customers’ experience in order to gain competitiveness.
5 tips to improve the B2B customer experience
Equip yourself with a B2B eCommerce platform
It is not appropriate to create B2B shopping experiences with a B2C e-commerce platform. Being equipped with a B2B e-commerce platform offers the possibility of personalization and adaptation to the requirements of B2B customers. Creating online catalogs and personalized price lists for each customer is also fundamental. To do this, it is possible to include frequently purchased items or items compatible with frequently purchased items. In addition, using a B2B e-commerce platform makes it possible to offer an online sales page by language or currency and to market products that each customer wants to buy, indicating the availability of the products and the shipping options.
View available inventory
At this point it is necessary to connect e-commerce sites to ERP, WMS or any other system to give customers a real-time view of product availability. For businesses that rely on multiple warehouses, using geolocation allows determining the warehouse that will respond to an order, as well as the shipping time. This saves the customer from having to call or email to inquire about stock levels and allows them to more easily complete a transaction while still being confident that their order is being fulfilled. The experience offered is therefore engaging and helps to offer the customer a framework of confidence and quality in which to make their purchases.
Deploy a self-service portal
B2B customers want to manage their orders themselves. By setting up self-service portals, users can access their order information (including status and tracking), invoices, and order history. It can also be interesting to give the possibility to place new orders thanks to the history of the orders made or to digitize the process of authorization of returns to facilitate the management of the returns of orders. Finally, offering an online chat, whether with a live operator or an AI, allows questions to be answered in real time.
Expand your content offering
In 2022, B2B buyers are looking for an Amazon-like B2C shopping experience. In this context, it is necessary to enrich its content in order to improve the customer experience. We must also think about adding new generation search tools to simplify access to products, offer tutorial and troubleshooting videos, customers can download user manuals and installation guides… Finally, don’t forget to use data from its CRM to create customized Deliver content stage of the buyer’s journey.
Integrate purchasing processes of B2B customers
At this point, it is necessary to let B2B customers define the permissions and access needed to comply with their purchasing processes. Also, be sure to clearly identify if customers prefer EDI or their own online procurement system over using an e-commerce platform, and integrate if necessary.
By Laurent Desprez, vice president and general manager for Europe at Oro Inc.