The ecommerce world is growing rapidly, and it shows no signs of slowing down. While this has been quite common with the B2C crowd since Covid shut us all in, the B2B business model is just starting to catch up online. This means that more businesses are looking to online vendors to provide the supplies they need to run their businesses.
Their expectation of these stores is quite high. And while there is no magic formula for success, there are some B2B ecommerce website best practices you can follow to make your online store stand out.
Here are a few ideas to help you improve your sales process and take advantage of this trend.
1. Website must be user-friendly
Think of your website as your store. The customer experience will always matter first. Your customers want to be able to find what they are looking for and checkout. In fact, 76% of users say this is their number one concern.
By making your website’s user experience (UX) design appealing and easy to navigate, you can keep customers on your site longer. They will also return more often for other items they need and potentially buy more.
Here are a few ways to make your website design user-friendly:
- Simplify the navigation. Take time to put all products together under product categories that make sense. Keep the language simple, and use terms your customers will understand. This will also help you do better in search engines.
- Use clear product information. Your business-to-business ecommerce customers are not going to want a lot of fluff. Keep your product information and descriptions concise and easy to read.
- Add search and filter functions. Your customer may be at work, doing five other tasks while purchasing supplies. Give them an easy-to-use site search option so they can find exactly what they need.
- Optimize for mobile. Up to 80% of B2B consumers purchase through mobile devices. Make sure your ecommerce site is not only functional on desktop computers but also responsive on a mobile device.
- Check your site speed. During a customer search, they don’t want to wait for products to pop up. That is a turn-off. Make sure your site is built on a solid ecommerce platform that will allow for maximum site speed.
2. Personalize the experience for repeat customers
When talking with your vendors in person, you develop connections with them and learn to trust them. A website experience should be no different.
Use your site to track customer behavior and analyze purchasing decisions. You can then offer a personalized experience to that customer when they return. Giving a customer a personalized experience can help you gain their trust and keep them loyal to your company.
Here are a few ways to increase customer satisfaction with personalization:
- Customize pricing and discounts based on previous orders. Make these unique to each individual.
- Create customized user interface for each customer.
- Personalize product offerings based on a user’s previous behavior on the website.
- Tailor promotions, rewards, and marketing messages based on the customer’s previous purchase orders and browsing history.
3. Streamline order management
Some businesses will jump on your website and order the products they need, going through the normal checkout and ordering process.
However, many businesses tend to use bulk ordering or buy online on a schedule, especially if they are ordering the same items every month. Having a subscription set up for automatic reordering is an easy solution. Another option would be to have a reorder button so your customer can reorder the same supplies each month.
You can also show real-time inventory to your customers to enhance the buyer’s experience. If they need extra supplies, they will want to know exactly what you have on hand and how fast you can get it to them.
You’ll also want to be able to handle a variety of different and local payment methods based on what your customers search and expect. Some may use credit cards, and others may want to settle on credit at a later date. There may be other options for local pricing based on your area. Take time to look into them and prepare to handle them in advance.
On the backend of your system, automate your order processing and fulfillment processes. Buyer expectations are on the rise, thanks to platforms like Amazon. Buyers in the B2B market, like others, have the expectation that their orders will be processed immediately and their supplies will arrive quickly.
4. Prioritize customer service
Most business-to-business customers have always had a sales representative nearby to help them with the buying experience. The sales team takes care of their needs and gives them someone to contact when something goes wrong. With online stores, this channel disappears, but that doesn’t mean that your customer service should drop. Supply your clients with a dedicated customer support rep or team that they can contact.
Having a dedicated group will allow you to respond quickly to inquiries and complaints, building loyalty and trust with your customers.
In addition, you can give your customers a self-service customer portal. Let them see their purchase history, order tracking, and return information. Give them a way to customize their orders, and consider incentives for those who are willing to go the mile and use self-service options.
5. Review data and analytics
The data you receive from your ecommerce store can provide you with intelligence that can be used for future planning. By looking at real-time analytics, you can figure out how to generate more leads, enhance your marketing, and improve customer experience on your site.
The data provided for the buying process can give you invaluable information as to what your customers like about your store — and where it is lacking. Use this information to help you determine future business planning.
Insights into customer behavior and preferences
Your data can show you a wealth of information about your customers’ behavior and their preferences. It can tell you how long they spend on each page, where they are located, and what your most popular products are.
Information such as what time of day and which day of the week your customers are purchasing products is also available.
Use your data to make future business decisions and plan your strategy
The information you have available to you can help you make decisions, such as which products to add and which to discontinue. It can also dictate your marketing decisions.
When do you place ads? For which products? What days do you run your ads and on which platforms? By having access to real-time data, you can make intelligent, informed business decisions.
6. Integrate with third-party services to simplify your processes
Your B2B ecommerce store should be all about your customer and their experience on your site. But that doesn’t mean that you should neglect your staff and their needs either. There are integrations available on the backend that can help your team create seamless transactions for your customers and simplify your order processing.
Integrate ERP and CRM systems
Your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools can be integrated with your store. These systems can keep notes on customer behavior and regular buying cycles. It can also keep tabs on customers you may have issues with so you are prepared if they call in.
Integrate with your shipping providers
You can simplify the fulfillment process by integrating with your shipping and logistics providers. Your store can send shipping information over to the provider so you never have to contact them for pickup. Print labels and have the order ready when your shipping provider arrives.
Integrate with your payment gateways
By integrating with payment solution providers, you simplify payment processes. Customers can pay their invoices through the links provided on the front end, and you can receive the funds and link them to your accounting system on the backend.
This creates less work for both your customer and your accounting team. Ultimately, your business sells more, and your buyers are happier with the experience.
7. Keep your customers’ data secure
Protecting your customer’s personal and company information is of the utmost priority.
To ensure a safe experience, take time to learn and understand industry standards, and make sure you have security measures in place to keep everyone’s data safe. Do regular security audits within your company, or hire an outside firm to do a security audit for you.
They can help you understand any nuances that may pop up that you need to be aware of. Have a written procedure in place as to what to do if a security breach should ever occur.
Compliance with data privacy regulations
The data industry has many compliance regulations that must be followed. Stay up to date on all of the rules, and watch for changes as they occur.
Depending on your clientele, you may also need to follow some of the compliance regulations for their industries. Take time to be aware of any that may pop up.
Stick to your guns on compliance and don’t let it slide to avoid big fines from the government. Creating and enforcing compliance and security policies within your company will keep sensitive information safe from any data hackers.
8. Implement marketing and sales strategies for your ecommerce business
Creating a solid marketing strategy for your ecommerce platform will help you find potential customers and keep you in front of current customers. There are many different ways to incorporate marketing into your business plan. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Use targeted marketing campaigns
Before you start marketing, determine exactly who your target audience is for each campaign. Use their pain points to speak to them and to get their attention. Share with them unique solutions that are specific to that problem.
You can do this with targeted email marketing campaigns, paid social media ads, or whatever channel brings the most traffic and the best conversion rates for your niche.
Create lead generation and nurturing strategies
Most new customers do not buy from you the first time they see your ad but must go through several phases of the buying cycle. Use quality content, landing pages with hooks, and retargeting ads to draw them in.
Get them into a sales funnel for follow-up, and stay in front of them. The more they see your content, the more likely they are to buy from you. It’s because expertise builds trust and attracts customers.
Try account-based marketing tactics
Account-based marketing creates new content and ads for each individual customer. You provide product pages and content based on their specific problems. Feed them relevant information that will help them specifically – that will set you apart from other businesses.
9. Create a content strategy that aligns with your values
Business customers like to know they are doing business with companies that have values similar to their own. Your marketing materials and content should align with your mission statement while still providing value to your customers.
Create valuable and informative content
Share quality content with your audience. Add a blog to your website pages and fill it with value-packed blogs. Share the information on your social media channels. You can also create videos with additional information in them.
The more value you can provide to your customers, the more they will engage with your brand. They will share your content with others, and word will get out about your company.
Share consistent brand messaging across all channels
All of your content should be customer-focused, but be consistent with your brand. If you have certain values, those should always be upheld.
This being said, don’t compromise your company with your marketing materials. Make sure this messaging stays consistent throughout your content. From brochures to social media, you’ll want to send one message to your customers.
Use multimedia content to engage customers
Mix up your content to provide customers with an eye-catching experience. Use mobile-friendly images and videos together. Create audio content to pair with your text.
By using several types of media at the same time, you’ll stimulate your audience and keep them from being bored by your content.
10. Practice continuous improvement
Every business has areas that need improvement from time to time, and ecommerce websites are no different. With digital commerce, the world is ever changing and there will always be things that need to be changed to improve workflow or processes.
Regularly evaluate website performance
Once your website is online and your customers are using it, you’ll want to continuously run diagnostics on it. Make sure you have a responsive web design and that it can be easily used on mobile devices.
Continue to keep an eye on site speed and images. As you upload new images and add new products to your store, you may slow your website down.
Listen to your ecommerce sales. If they are steady or increasing, your site is doing well. If not, you may need to make changes to the site.
Identify areas for improvement
Even after launch, your B2B ecommerce website may need improvement in some areas. Update your metadata behind the scenes so your website can be found in the search results. Then double-check your product descriptions and your daily processes.
You might find areas that can be improved to make the flow better for both you and your customers. Test your website and optimize any areas that can improve the user experience for your customers.
11. B2B ecommerce final thoughts
In the rapidly expanding realm of B2B ecommerce, navigating the evolving landscape requires an adept strategy that embraces the ever-growing digital transformation.
By adhering to these 10 best practices, your B2B ecommerce website can transcend the ordinary and become a picture of customer satisfaction and operational excellence. Ensuring user-friendliness, personalizing experiences, streamlining order management, and prioritizing customer service all contribute to a seamless transactional journey.
The invaluable insights gleaned from data and analytics propel informed decision-making, while strategic integration with third-party services harmonizes and simplifies your processes. Marketing and sales strategies that align with your brand’s values and resonate with the target audience encourage engagement and growth.
Continuous improvement remains at the heart of success. In this fast-paced realm, following these best practices will equip you with the tools you need to navigate change, exceed customer expectations, and thrive in the digital era.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are examples of best practices when building a B2B e-commerce website?
The best practice is to always listen to your customers. Creating a positive user experience is essential. A few items to include in the website design include account-based and customized pricing, personalized product recommendations and promotions, bulk orders and scheduled ordering, and options for payment.
What are some best practices in B2B marketing?
Create quality content that is informative and of value to your customers. Personalize it for each account if necessary so you are tackling their specific pain points. Use SEO-optimized content in your marketing materials and on your website, and make sure you include a call to action on all material.
Does ecommerce really work for B2B?
Yes, it does. Ecommerce is valuable for both B2B and B2C businesses. Any company that wants to sell products to another company or person can benefit from an ecommerce website.
What are the absolute essentials for B2B ecommerce stores?
Account-based pricing and customizable billing options are the most important for your customers. Other things to consider are catalog management and different levels of permissions for customer contacts.