eCommerce Best Practices Applied from B2C to B2B
While B2C and B2B eCommerce are definitely two very different beasts, let’s take a moment to discuss the similarities. There are, after all, many eCommerce best practices to be learned from how B2C eCommerce has evolved over the last decade. Applying those lessons to B2B eCommerce can mean faster adoption and increased competitive differentiation. It’s important to remember when implementing your B2B eCommerce channel that your users have been shopping online for years already. There are certain conventions, expectations, and conveniences that they will expect to have in their businesses purchases as well. It’s also the case that eCommerce companies have figured out ways to stay connected with buyers, market to them effectively, and encourage repeat purchases. But while the relationship between the consumer and the B2C brand is important, the relationships between wholesale brands and retailers is even more critical to maintain. Let’s take a look at some of the ways brands can leverage B2C eCommerce best practices to provide a great experience for their B2B customers and increase sales.
eCommerce Best Practices to Apply from B2C to B2B
1. GIVE USERS TWO WAYS TO BROWSE THE CATALOG.
Having two ways to browse the catalog can mean the difference between happy users and frustrated users. One of those browsing methods is search. This provides a way for customers who already know what they’re looking for to find an item quickly. The search box should be positioned in a prominent position so as to make it easy to find. The second method is “discovery” navigation––having a navigation pattern that helps the user get a sense of the entire breadth of the catalog. If you have a large catalog, category filters can make a huge difference. Both of these navigation elements should be clearly visible on every page of the site. A great browsing experience translates to customers finding what they need more quickly, which can mean increased time on site, improved customer retention, and higher sales.
2. THINK ABOUT YOUR B2B ECOMMERCE PORTAL AS A MARKETING ENGINE.
Great B2C sites use their online stores as marketing and growth engines, leveraging landing pages, promotions, email marketing, merchandising, and compelling product imagery (for more on the marketing opportunities of B2B eCommerce, click here.) To get the most out of a B2B eCommerce portal, wholesalers need to think the same way. It’s not just a place for customers to enter SKUs and quantities, but a place to highlight your brand and offer promotions that encourage sales. Set up an email marketing campaign for your B2B eCommerce site, analyzing open and click-through rates, experimenting with the timing and messaging of your emails. You can also set up a resources page on your eCommerce site, where retailers can discover product training videos, merchandising guidelines, and other marketing collateral.
3. PROVIDE SINGLE-STEP, ONE-PAGE CHECKOUT.
Great eCommerce experiences today are focused on making the checkout process as quick as possible. Everything you need should be on one page––one click and the order is placed. With a combination of saving preferences and making it as easy as possible to enter additional information, B2B eCommerce companies should follow suit. This is a little bit more complex for B2B, however. In B2C, it’s simply a matter of having a credit card, shipping address, and billing address on file. For B2B, information like payment terms (e.g. Net 30, Net 60, or cash on delivery), shipping methods (overnight freight, FTL?), ship dates, and cancel dates need to be included as well. Making sure that all of this information can be easily entered the first time, and then saved and easily modified later is key.
4. ALLOW FOR DETAILED ORDER TRACKING.
Whether they’re an end consumer or a retail buyer, people want to know when they’re going to receive what they ordered. Having order tracking available from your site is so important to providing your customers with peace of mind. You should also include a page dedicated to shipping and delivery expectations for each of your shipping methods. You can also include testimonials that share positive experiences other customers have had with your shipping speed and/or reliability. A B2B buyer is going to actively seek out this information before making a purchase. Are there any other B2C eCommerce best practices that you think should be applied to B2B? Share them in the comments.