For the past decade, we have seen a major shift in consumers’ purchasing power. Be it window shopping or browser windows, more and more customers are favouring e-commerce options over brick-and-mortar stores.
Yes, we understand that hitting the mall means spending quality time with friends, but one cannot argue that the experience of shopping online in sweatpants and fuzzy slippers is hard to resist.
With the online retail industry currently expecting an annual growth rate of 17.5% (Source) out of the total global retail sales by 2021, it's safe to assume that your e-store will receive its fair share of this over $3 billion industry. (Source)
Amazed by this fact? Now consider this, the global business to business ecommerce market was valued at $12.2trillion in 2019, that’s way more than the existing B2C market. Now imagine where it will be by 2021. The sky is truly the limit here. (Source)
Studies also reveal that the overall buying experience outranks products and price every time. Yes, the experience-first approach can work wonders for your business only if you know how to use it more effectively than your competitors.
But what if your customers are other companies rather than individual buyers?
B2B is a thriving community, there’s no doubt about that. But to be a part of this, you must offer something that goes way beyond your online products or services, i.e. a seamless buyer experience. Why? Because delivering a great experience to prospective buyers will be the main deciding factor as to whether or not they will buy something from you.
Wait, what is the buyer experience?
We know many of you are already familiar with the term but still, we feel the need to define it in contrast to B2C so that you can fully understand it and improve it.
The thing is, business to business vendors and their e-commerce patterns are more complex than their business counterparts who rely on retail customers. And this is why you need to plan your strategies accordingly.
For example, B2B companies not only have more offerings and services than B2C companies but also these offerings are highly tailored to individual buyer needs. Not to mention, it often contains different products and services bundled together. These Business to Business journeys are not only long and complex but also technical in nature.
Moreover, it consists of a continuous interaction of sales and service touchpoints and often involves multiple teams in different departments. Now we hope you understand why B2B buyer journeys are different from their B2C counterparts.
So, how can we improve the buyer’s journey?
Let’s start from the start. Before learning the features to improve the buyer’s journey, there are a few things you need to keep in mind such as-
- Try to understand the experience your buyer is currently having versus the experience they are looking forward to. Only time can perfect this art. Interact with buyers on a regular basis to have a clear understanding of this.
- Design and deliver a buying experience that is based exclusively on what the e-commerce buyer wants. This design generally focuses on moving the buyer to the next step by providing them with what they want and need.
- Lastly, while designing the buying experience, remember that your buyer wants only two things out of this deal; help to make better decisions and an easy way to reach that decision.
With that said, here are five ways you can modernize your buyer’s experience.
1. Account personalization
Account personalization is basically the process of tailoring content according to your buyers’ characteristics or preferences. It serves as the key to not only driving sales but also learning more about your target B2B markets and more importantly, about growing your customer base. Let’s understand how personalization can help improve the buyer’s journey.
Emails are an easy way to grab your customers attention right away with the help of personalized content. It can be done using the contact name, previous search history, account history or company anniversary note from your CRM. This type of personalization not only drive more leads in general, but these leads are also high in quality.
Personalization through your e-commerce website is a challenging affair since you cannot customize as per the need of every customer. However, with simple additions, you can always create a custom web experience for almost every visitor.
Start with breaking your customer base into categories, then you can move on to determining the needs of each segment followed by creating appropriate content for each segment.
Lead nurture program personalization
We understand you don’t want to overwhelm your prospects but still, having a nurturing process really helps in strengthening the relationship you are planning to build with your prospect. Send data enriched emails to the B2B customers who have researched a product and then left the site. The idea here is to keep your potential customers engaged until they are ready to buy.
StoreHippo offers a pool of flexible and highly customizable personalization solutions for your wholesale business ranging from template to language to price to currency and much more.
2. Keep the payment process simple
This era of abundant information that we are living in can easily be compared to a double-edged sword. Today, buyers can easily research and find what they need but when it comes to decision making, they often feel confused with the wide range of choices and data.
Equally overwhelming is the fact that Business to Business transactions generally comprise of several people, filling out various paper forms, and frequently contacting them via emails, phone calls and in-person meetings.
As an e-commerce website owner, it becomes your responsibility to make the purchase process simple so as to allow the representatives to address the customer needs more efficiently, besides speeding up the customers’ purchasing decision.
But how can you simplify the process?
Simple, by removing some of the added baggage from the buyer’s journey, your B2B enterprise can easily streamline their transactions.
For example, by eliminating the need for procuring and processing paper check, you can save your customers from lots of unnecessary hassles. Similarly, by ensuring a secure payment system to your B2B customers where their personal details can be vaulted, they won’t have to enter the details every time they make a purchase.
To help our customers, StoreHippo offers a faster and simpler mobile-first buying experience to our wholesale buyers, that helps them with more sales and higher checkout conversion.
3. Facilitated customer interactions
Another important milestone of an improved buyer’s journey is how well you handle the interactions with your customers. Generally, it requires some advanced digital capabilities in three key areas:
Insight enriched relationships
It requires you to know who your buyers are from the inside out, what is the purpose of their purchase, and what are the key factors that are driving their buying decisions. Use these deep customer insights to guide B2B interactions with them at every stage, be it marketing, product design, etc.
Next, you need to facilitate seamless buyer and seller interactions, so as to make it easy for the customers to communicate. This can be done by implementing digital technologies that can automate the entire purchase process from ordering to fulfilment to customer service to back-office functions.
Another thing you need to ensure is to increase customer choice for their preferred communication channel. It can either be over the phone, online chat, via email or even machine to machine. But whatever you do, just make sure to offer a consistent user experience across all channels.
With StoreHippo backing up your website, the customers can easily contact your business’s support team using a live chat service. Apart from this, you will get the benefits of push notifications. These include sending real-time updates and reminders to help engage your buyers with the brand.
4. Content that gets you noticed
Taking B2B decisions requires time, sometimes as much as 12 months. But you can easily help your buyer reduce the decision-taking time. How? By creating a content that shows your review-built reputation which can easily be accessible across every communication channel
- Assure your buyers that you are the best choice. Analyse the feedback you receive from your buyers and display it on your site. A better place would be somewhere it can guide your buyers through the purchasing process. By displaying customer feedback in such a fashion, you will create confidence leading to more leads for your business.
- Use reviews to boost your SEO. The thing is, Google loves fresh, relevant content of your customers' feedback and based on this, it considers your ecommerce website an authoritative source. This will potentially help your business website rank better in search results.
- Build trust in the eyes of your buyers by improving your website’s star rating in Google’s search results. These star ratings are basically your customer feedback data that Google represents in simple stars.
- Lastly, you can use these reviews for retargeting marketing as well. You know how expensive it is to acquire new buyers these days as compared to retaining the existing ones. And reviews play a key role in customer retention, so focus on that.
If the content you publish on your e-commerce website is of high quality and the reviews genuine, the buyers don’t need to look at a competitor at all. And StoreHippo can be the right partner to help you with that. How?
StoreHippo is integrated with the latest content marketing trends that not only helps optimize your content, be it infographics or product reviews or even slideshows. It also helps you post high-quality blogs that, in turn, will bring a huge amount of traffic to generate more business opportunities to you.
5. Discount strategies
In most industries, discounts represent a company’s largest marketing investment, sometimes amounting to more than a quarter of list-price sales. However, you do need to make this important investment strategically. Because if you don’t, discounts won’t create the value that they should. And worse, can even destroy value.
So, how can you make discounts work for you?
- By designing a B2B discount strategy around the major source of value and considering it as an investment rather than a cost of doing business. A few points of this strategy include switching to higher-margin products, using sales channels that are consistent with the buyer’s growth strategy, providing data to refine products/services etc.
- By using the insights generated in the previous step to offer for value-based discounting. For example, you can set one type of discount for each source of value or limit the number of discount types for each customer (it will help increase their impact). Meanwhile, you can also ensure that the investment for each discount type is above the minimum threshold for the buyer.
- Lastly, ensure the execution of the points mentioned above on your e-commerce website. First, create clear customer-facing communications to convey the benefits of discounts. Then you can work on developing consistent messages about pricing that include both discounts and rebates. Also, provide full transparency regarding discounts such as free shipping or extended warranties.
We will say again, think of discounts as an investment. Before panning this strategy, ask yourself if you are getting enough in ROI compared with what you are giving away.
StoreHippo allows you to set up exclusive discounts for your important clients along with free shipping, discounts off for first-timers etc.
Improving the experience
If we look around, there are few business websites offer features that deepen customer relationships, simplify transactions, and drive sales. Fundamentally speaking, B2B companies rarely take a comprehensive, cross-functional approach to customer service.
But those companies that have worked hard to improve the digital buying experience are reaping big returns. So, where do you think your business website stands? Are you reaping in big returns or just struggling to make ends meet?
If your answer is the latter one, you will need something more than just having the best approach towards your wholesale business. You need StoreHippo, an ecommerce platform that comes with not only the latest features but also a wide variety of tools to help you implement all the features mentioned above.
And much more.