What makes a successful b2b eCommerce website?

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Spending money on launching and marketing your new b2b eCommerce site is essential to attracting visitors. But equally, you need to make sure the site itself continues to perform at its best to maximise the number of visitors who become paying customers.

The most important thing is to make sure that your site is geared to making self-service orders as easy as possible. If it’s difficult to place an order, customers will revert to using other sales channels, which undermines the point of investing in an eCommerce website in the first place, and means the money you’re spending on marketing is wasted.

Improving conversion rate

One of the best ways to see how well your site is performing is to look at the Conversion Rate: Sales = Traffic x average Order Value (AOV) x Conversion Rate. Comparing conversion rates for your site over time is a great way to benchmark performance. And increasing conversion rate by just a small amount can make a big difference to your sales.

For example, in month one, if your traffic is 1,000 visitors, AOV is £200 and conversion rate 4.5%, sales will be £9,000. In month two, if you can improve the conversion rate to 5.5%, sales will rise to £11,000. That’s a £2,000 increase for every 1,000 visitors to your site. It’s not unusual to see b2b eCommerce sites delivering 5.5% conversion rates – but in our experience, you need a well thought out site to achieve that kind of level.

So how do you increase your conversion rate? It’s easy enough to do in the short term using standard techniques such as direct marketing, email marketing, discounts or added value promotions. But in the longer term, to create a permanent improvement in conversion rate you need to make it easier for customers to buy from your site. And that means identifying the ‘sales preventers’ and removing as many barriers to conversion as possible. This requires a close look at all the processes the customers needs to go through before they complete a purchase – from logging in and finding the products they want to buy, to knowing if the items are in stock and when they will be delivered.

Making it easier to buy

Customers may not buy for many reasons, but more often than not it comes down to three main factors: confusion, distraction or uncertainty. Here are a few tips to make it easier for people to buy from your site:

  • Make sure the journey from placing product in basket to checkout simple to navigate, with no spurious distractions to prevent customers from proceeding with their order.
  • Make sure your ‘Buy’ buttons appear in the same colour in the same place on each page, and that they encourage an action – ‘Buy now’ is better than ‘Buy’.
  • Make sure delivery costs and options are highlighted early on in the process so there are no shocks (and subsequent abandonments) at the checkout.
  • Make sure you’re up-front about stock levels and delivery times so that customers know that items are available and when their orders will arrive.
  • Make sure all your contact details are easy to find and let people know how quickly you’ll respond to an enquiry – it reduces their uncertainty and increases trust in your business; live chat can make a big difference too
  • Make sure that product information is clear and comprehensive and illustrated with diagrams and photography where appropriate; customers may need a lot of information before they’re ready to buy.
  • Make sure any promotions you run are really simple and easily communicated.

Building trust

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to improve your conversion rate is build trust with your customers and potential customers. There are many ways in which you can demonstrate your business integrity – from showing that payments are secure, having a strong Privacy Policy and clear Returns and Refunds Policy, to displaying customer testimonials, product reviews and any awards you’ve won.