We all know what B2C eCommerce looks like. It’s become a dominant force in global shopping thanks to the innovative convenience of young giants like Amazon. Many of us are less familiar, however, with the details of B2B eCommerce, and may not see how the advantages of B2C eCommerce are also applicable in B2B. How can the ease of use of B2C eCommerce be transported to an industry in which buying and selling can be such a complex process? After all, B2B shopping often involves highly variable pricing, far larger volumes and complicated shipping demands, not to mention a myriad of additional taxes and regulations.
But despite these challenges, top B2B businesses like Vulcan Spring (a global provider of mass-produced spring solutions) are transitioning toward an eCommerce approach, resulting in estimates projecting the B2B eCommerce industry to be worth $1.1 trillion by 2020.1 Companies are choosing to evolve, and that’s because the market and the consumer are changing. Seventy-four percent of B2B buyers say that purchasing from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative.1 Ninety-three percent prefer to buy online when they know what they need.1 Prospects are now at home online, and the best B2B companies know that to sell to them, they need to bring their business to where they’re most likely to make a purchase.
So why the big change? A primary driving force, beyond just improving technology, is that almost half of all B2B buyers are millennials, a generation perhaps most defined by its preference for online interaction.2 Millennials grew up with the ability to do online research and shopping and expect an Amazon-esque level of convenience at all times. As they continue to grow in the workforce, the need for B2B eCommerce will only increase.
How to Thrive in an Online Marketplace
Thankfully, you can get the jump on many businesses if you act soon. The complexity of B2B online transactions may be daunting, but it’s easily doable, especially if you seek outside help from a trusted partner. As you take your first steps, keep in mind these best practices that will help you get the most out of your online storefront and edge out your competitors.
- First and foremost, provide an easily accessible self-service option. Buyers that shop online do not want to have to switch to the phone when they’ve already found the product they want. Provide the convenience they’re looking for and let them purchase with a click.
- Along the same lines, when it comes to customer service, make live chat an option. Millennials have grown up with texting and messaging apps, so make them feel at home.
- Encourage reviews and collect testimonials. The millennial generation consistently reads reviews before they purchase a product; post-Amazon, allowing reviews is just the cost of doing business. Make sure to leverage your best reactions by using them as testimonials and promoting them on the site, on social and on Google.
- Prioritize the user experience, particularly focusing on improving ease of use. Look at heat maps and flow for bounce and drop-off rate issues and re-design those areas for better functionality and intuitiveness. Shoppers increasingly use mobile, so a mobile-first design is worth considering.
- Finally, take full advantage of the precise, systematic personalization online buying provides. Offer optional pricing plans, add-on purchase suggestions and specials like live demos or assisted software setup. Go a step further and apply dynamic pricing, which uses algorithms to determine pricing (automatically and 24/7) for each shopper according to factors such as volume, purchasing frequency and the value of their business moving forward. You’ll have the ability to extend strategy to each and every purchase while providing customers a better experience that fits their needs.
Putting B2B eCommerce into Action
With the fundamentals covered, we can take a look at a real-world example of how one company benefitted from implementing a strong eCommerce approach.
Lite Tech is a leading manufacturer of radiation protection products that serves the worldwide hospital industry through their brand, XENOLITE. They wanted to expand their business nationally and internationally, and eCommerce provided the opportunity for unrestrained growth in market share.
Sagefrog Marketing Group realized that eCommerce was the answer. They assisted Lite Tech with a new brand strategy they could build their eCommerce approach around, supplying a unified visual identity and messaging so that the company could present themselves consistently online. From there, Sagefrog reinvigorated the site’s eCommerce capabilities with a re-designed product catalog, then expanded Lite Tech’s digital presence and informed prospects and customers of the new eCommerce purchasing system with email marketing and online promotional campaigns.
By stepping up their eCommerce game and letting people know about it with digital marketing techniques, Lite Tech grew by leaps and bounds. They achieved the number one search results page ranking for multiple top product keywords and increased their website visitors by 60 percent, with 57 percent new visitors. These visitors were more qualified prospects who generated 208 percent more page views with 95 percent more page views per session. Tellingly, organic search traffic increased by 44 percent, proving that consumers will seek out a site that allows them to purchase online.
Putting eCommerce to Work for Your Business
Lite Tech saw the advantages that online retail could provide, realizing that it allowed global sales unrestricted by location. Once they sought help in embracing eCommerce technology, they not only found this to be true, but they also learned that eCommerce spurs growth in local markets as well due to its growing popularity with a changing consumer base. With the best practices outlined above, and with the knowledge gained by studying Lite Tech’s case study in depth, you can expand your business to new markets and reinvigorate it for the modern marketplace all at once with B2B eCommerce.
Sagefrog is happy to answer questions or provide a free audit of your current marketing efforts. The audit will review the performance of a marketing tactic of your choice—website, content, branding, digital marketing or your use of PR and social media—and offer advice on how you can improve it through integrated marketing. Get your free marketing audit today.
Are you interested in B2B eCommerce or other marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.