Today, eCommerce is no longer an afterthought, but an essential opportunity to expand the business and acquire more customers. It is a way to differentiate from competition and tap into new markets. Thus, having a B2B eCommerce site is now mandatory to remain competitive.
However, before taking the plunge, it is important for the development team to take certain aspects into consideration. The B2B site must meet the requirements of your business and your customers.
Since each enterprise has different processes and unique target audiences, it is important to have a specific plan when building a B2B eCommerce platform. Out-of-the-box solutions don’t usually have the necessary features to translate to B2B. Even if they do adapt with plugins or customization, they rarely fit or scale well. Personalization, integration, seamless navigation, and checkout are basic requirements for any eCommerce business but there’s more, much more!
Here’s what developers must consider while building successful B2B eCommerce platforms:
Product User Experience
When customers visit your B2B website, they are there not just for the products, but also for the expertise you offer. If you can easily provide answers to product-related queries as customers navigate through your website, it means you’ve successfully unlocked your organization’s product expertise. This takes a meaningful, well-designed interface, and rich content.
To curate a rich product user experience from the search bar through to the payment page, developers need to:
- Develop robust product UX strategies and visual information architecture so customers can easily search for products, leverage selection guides, and seamlessly purchase the products they need
- Make use of world-class product content expertise to create a winning content-centric product experience within an economic investment model
- Leverage data-driven insights for finalizing product assortment, classification, bundles, pricing, and accessories – all to capture an increasing share of the customers’ wallet
- Carry out efficient segmentation, journey mapping, and competitive benchmarking to ensure the product experience offered is cutting-edge
- Build analytics roadmaps to achieve the best assessment of what will happen in the future based on historical data across the supply chain, sales, customer and market intelligence
- Drive efforts in building recommendation engines and product comparison pages so customers can quickly and easily compare product options and view the information needed to make the right purchase decision
Product Information Management
For B2B customers especially, optimizing all technical and marketing-related product information is essential for digital channel effectiveness and revenue growth. Developers must use a holistic approach to feed information across the channels including the B2B eCommerce website, ERP systems, as well as trading partners. To drive efficient Product Information Management, developers need to:
- Collate, manage and enrich all product-related information including detailed product descriptions, specifications, pictures and videos, how-to guides, usage data, product stories, prices, and cost elements
- Devise solutions that support multiple geographic locations and languages, and allow maintenance and modification of product information within a centralized catalog
- Carefully establish and execute a roll-out plan for the installation of the necessary product information management solutions
- Define appropriate use cases, and construct all solution components as per the detailed design
- Carry out necessary user acceptance testing, periodically assess the implemented solution, and maintain the solution throughout the lifecycle
Customer Experience Design
There was a time when businesses could depend exclusively on the quality of their products to bring in more customers. However, in today’s competitive B2B eCommerce landscape, brands can no longer differentiate themselves based on price or quality of products. It is the customer experience they offer that makes them stand out.
Designing an analytics-driven experience that aligns customer needs to the product offerings across the customer lifecycle is key to loyalty and advocacy. Effective customer experience design requires developers to:
- Make a viable business case for customer experience investment and define the development and implementation process of a robust customer experience strategy
- Develop and encourage adoption of customer experience tools like the voice of the customer, personas and journey maps
- Build and execute an effective customer experience design based on the devised strategy and prioritize high-impact initiatives
- Implement the strategy such that every product, service, and action is designed to deliver an exceptional experience – including site navigation, search functionality, product assortment, prices, check-out experience, customer service policies, and more
- Have a mobile-focused mindset and make rich content accessible at the right time and in the way the customer expects it
- Leverage mobile-driven analytics to determine what drives the customer experience and how to sustain it to continuously reach revenue goals
Drive Customer Loyalty & Profitability
With B2B eCommerce poised to reach $6.7 trillion by 2020, the need to drive efforts and investment in building modern, top-notch B2B platforms is commonly accepted now. Stronger integration with back-end functions, greater emphasis on depth of information, flexibility in payment etc. are all basic requirements for any B2B eCommerce website. However, considering how complex B2B eCommerce is, it’s about time for businesses to move towards a more customer-centric strategy too. This strategy will be driven by exceptional product user experience and customer experience through robust product information management, data-driven insights, and analytics is essential for customer loyalty, and profitability. The developers that build these B2B eCommerce sites would do well to know that!