Help your customers serve themselves, and watch your b2b sales grow

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Although perhaps not as visible as the explosion in online B2C trading, b2b eCommerce is increasing at a pace. To put that in perspective, Frost and Sullivan report that global b2b eCommerce sale will exceed $6.6 trillion by 2020, compared to $3.2 trillion for B2C.

So despite the more complex nature of b2b selling and the need to address some unique challenges, reducing or removing friction from the sales processes by enabling customers to self-serve is helping to boost revenue and margin for manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that make buying easy are over 60% more likely to record a high quality sale, while McKinsey says that more than 85% of b2b decision-makers prefer to use self-service tools for reordering, rather than having to deal with a sales rep.

These figures should come as no surprise. Around 50% of today’s b2b buyers are millennials – they’ve grown up in the digital age and they expect to be able to make business purchases using intuitive online technology that delivers an Amazon-grade customer experience. However, we still see many b2b sellers relying on legacy, under-specified eCommerce systems that are unable to provide a smooth and seamless buying experience. Let’s look at some of the ways other companies are improving their online sales performance by meeting the expectations of their buyers…  watch b2b sales grow

  • Be the King of content – online buyers need access to a raft of detailed, accurate background information on which they can base informed purchase decisions. Make sure it’s your company’s eCommerce website they come to for the best quality free content, and not your competitors.
  • Provide comprehensive product information – ensure it’s up-to-date, detailed and consistently presented across all your products. Your eCommerce website has to function as a product catalogue that allows buyers to easily find, compare and understand everything about the products they want to buy.
  • Make the buyer’s job faster and easier – digital savvy buyers need to be aware of all the timesaving, self-serve features you’ve incorporated into your site to make their lives easier. Pay special attention to ensuring that site design, navigation, search capabilities, and the checkout process are fully optimised for your customers.
  • Use smart technology – choose a high performance integrated eCommerce platform that delivers a streamlined, engaging experience for buyers, and is capable of driving a holistic omnichannel approach. Implement a system that provides customers with account-specific pricing and customised terms, allows them to review their order history and offers different payment options. By ensuring that your eCommerce platform integrates with your business accounting system (such as Sage or Pegasus), you can provide an engaging, personalised customer experience that features real-time stock levels, automated re-ordering, tailored rewards, and special up-sell and cross-sell promotions.
  • Put mobile first – increasingly buyers work on the move, with recent research showing that around half of b2b search enquiries were made using mobiles. So make sure your site is optimised for mobile in order to deliver the best possible experience.
  • Join the conversation – incorporate live chat into your system to help build deeper relationships with your customers, resolve issues quickly, and increase order values.
  • Don’t make shipping a stumbling block – companies that have problems getting their customers through the checkout often cite shipping issues as the cause of lost sales. Therefore it’s important to ensure that selection of a shipping option is an intuitive, automated process, that prices are reasonable and that there are no unexpected costs. From past experience, adding in a fast delivery alternative is also a good idea.
  • Work the way your customers work – remove as much friction as possible from your eCommerce system by aligning your workflows with the way your customers want to do business.