Customer experience is the sweet spot of today’s consumer-facing eCommerce industry. Do it well and conversions and sales volumes promise to go up the roof. In fact, the case can be made that keeping customer experience at the center is what has made brands like Amazon bigger than traditional retail giants like Walmart and Tesco. But then, what about B2B eCommerce? Can personalization help businesses gain a foothold in an industry that is projected to be worth over USD 1.3 Trillion by 2023 in the US alone?
The answer is, unreservedly, yes.
But personalizing the customer experience is not easy in B2B eCommerce. And this reflects in how customers view B2B companies. While the average customer experience score of B2C companies hover around 65 to 85%, B2B companies struggle to even get close to 50%.
So, how can B2B eCommerce deliver great customer experiences the way B2C does? Let us explore a few options:
Simplifying the Purchase Journey
According to a Gartner survey, nearly 77% of B2B buyers admit that their purchasing journey is incredibly complex. Buying decisions involve a network of personnel that contribute to the approval of a purchase with each stakeholder having varying interests corresponding to their job roles or location. For brands, this means that they need to provide corporate accounts access-controlled and permission-defined provisions for different people to browse, manage, configure, and order.
In an industry often dominated by in-person deal closures by sales personnel, the eCommerce transition surely needs a strategic plan to each stakeholder in a corporate account can find the information needed to progress in the buying decision. Simplifying self-service for such a plurality of buying decisions is the first step. Personalizing the shopping experience for each account and each stakeholder can win loyalty faster and make repeat orders easier.
Just as with B2C eCommerce, the search experience needs to be top class if B2B buyers are to move ahead in their workflow through the eCommerce platform. In addition to normal search capabilities such as autofill of search keywords, contextual interpretation of keywords, and popular filters, B2B requires some extra power for personalizing search.
Historic purchase data needs to be taken into consideration before every search path is enabled. Industrial or business orders require enriched product content to empower several search possibilities. For instance, based on the buyer profile, search specifications to cater to could include unique volume labels or quantity labels to allow ordering by cartons or by weight, etc. This level of personalization in search results gives B2B buyers the confidence that the seller knows their unique needs and varied patterns or behaviors, similar to what a great sales account rep would know.
One of the biggest attractions for any kind of consumer, be it B2C or B2B, is favorable pricing. While B2C price-points can be derived based on market conditions, the personalization of pricing in the B2B sector is not that easy.
Every customer account will be unique and the range of opinions in the buying decision also complicates pricing. Traditionally B2B pricing can be based on loyalty, the volume of business, the variety of orders, and the influential capacities of a customer. By adding a layer of personalization into eCommerce, there can be a similar platter of choice B2B companies could offer. Recommending the best, or the most appropriate, price to each customer becomes possible. Using a combination of automated pricing, coupon or voucher-based discounts, exclusive brand shopping landing pages, etc. are some ways that B2B eCommerce companies can personalize pricing for corporate customers.
Targeted Content Marketing
Unlike B2C eCommerce, buying decisions in the B2B space often require more information. B2B brands have often turned to content marketing to provide that information.
In the B2B procurement lifecycle in an eCommerce, there is a huge opportunity for sellers to push out targeted content to inform, engage, and influence decision-makers. Downloadable content such as e-books, whitepapers, and reports along with collaterals such as blogs and marketing emails can create interest for decision-makers and can ultimately guide them to make a purchase online. This content can be personalized by taking into consideration the specific information needs of potential customers based on a deep understanding of buyer personae and needs.
B2B companies may be late in the customer experience game in their eCommerce ventures, but things are starting to change now. They now know that customer experience has become a key priority for decision-makers. For B2B eCommerce platforms, this means increasing their efforts to personalize- across the board. Making the shopping experience seamless, intuitive, and easy by delivering personalized experiences at every level from product search to filters, recommendations, and marketing will be the key to B2B companies surviving highly competitive market scenarios.