One of the misconceptions of B2B eCommerce sites is that the ordering experience must be completely streamlined — e.g. users only order from a grid or upload a spreadsheet with SKUs and quantities. For this reason, many manufacturers and distributors hesitate to move their business online. Perhaps their customers are of a generation or sector that has been slow to adopt eCommerce. Alternatively, their customers have always just picked up the phone to call their sales team or faxed over their order, and why make them change now?
There are lots of reasons, actually, all of which are rather urgent.
A B2B eCommerce site is quickly becoming table stakes, and no business will last into the coming decade without one. To begin, Millennials and Gen Xers are joining the ranks of purchasing departments and will soon be the senior buyers for your customers. As digitally native generations, they expect to be able to purchase electronically from their suppliers and have little patience for phone calls and email. Omni-channel interactions are as second nature to them as breathing in oxygen.
Second, your customers are likely purchasing from multiple suppliers, and may ask one of them to carry the products they currently purchase from you in order to streamline their workflows. You don’t want to lose a customer forever because they found it easier to place an order with someone else.
And finally, it makes better business sense to enable your customers to use self-service rather than involve your sales team in every order they place. Freeing up your sales reps from these tasks will allow them to spend more time finding new customers and building their pipelines.
This is why whenever a business owner tells us that a B2B site isn’t necessary we always dig a little deeper. What we learn is that while they see the benefits of eCommerce, these resisters want an ordering experience that feels more B2C than B2B, and they think it’s just not possible. Actually it is.
Let’s break this down.
What Makes a B2C Ordering Experience Elegant and Useful?
A B2C ordering experience is all about convenience, which in turn means making it easy for your customers to find what they need and place an order quickly and easily. The features that aid in that experience include:
Customers can’t make purchases if they can’t find what they need in your catalog. Robust search capabilities help customers find the right products they need. Filtering capabilities — via age, gender in the B2C world or by certification, durability for B2B — are a must, especially if you have thousands of SKUs in your product catalog.
Personalized recommendations are everywhere in the B2C world, from Amazon to Netflix. Recommendation engines present users with alternative options or related products based on other shopper’s behavior. Personalization boosts AOV and repeat sales because it promotes discovery that makes it easier for shoppers to find useful stuff.
There’s no better way to promote repeat sales than to make it super easy to place orders based on past purchases. Visitors who take the time to find the exact parts or products that work together don’t want to repeat that effort. Re-ordering spares them that burden.
How to Infuse Your B2B Site with B2C-Like Ordering
Adding convenience and elegance to your ordering process is pretty straightforward, thanks to solutions like BundleB2B, which seamlessly integrates with the BigCommerce eCommerce platform. Together, they offer must-have B2B capabilities — e.g. as corporate account management, custom catalogs and pricing, flexible payment options — along with all the conveniences users need to search your catalog and place orders on a regular basis.
Let’s start with robust search capabilities. BigCommerce comes with excellent search capabilities out-of-the-box, and it’s easy to add more when needed. For instance, we’ve built numerous custom search capabilities for B2B customers, including the addition of subcategories to the product listing pages to help your customers pinpoint the products they need quickly and easily.
And BundleB2B excels at personalization, allowing your customers to see the custom product catalogs and prices you’ve negotiated with them automatically. Those custom prices will populate every touchpoint of your eCommerce site, from the products listing page to checkout.
A reordering button allows your users to place an order from a past purchase — but that’s just the beginning of the convenience offered. The solution also lets your customers create, manage, and save multiple shopping lists and share them with one another to drive efficiency throughout the entire purchasing department.
There may be times when your sales team may want to review orders for your customers and correct them if necessary. Sales masquerading allows your sales rep to log in on behalf of a customer, access shopping lists, add products to the cart, and complete placement of the order.
B2B sites can be as flexible as you need them to be in order to support your team and your clients.
Interested in enhancing your B2B site to incorporate B2C ordering experiences? Contact us today, and we will help you plan your entire journey.