September 28, 2015
Magento recently sponsored a webinar entitled “10 Ways to Boost the B2B Shopping Experience” as part of Internet Retailer’s Webinar Series. It explored real-world examples of how merchants are achieving success by delivering better B2B experiences in a marketplace where 56 percent of B2B buyers will prefer to make purchases online by 2017. Participants included:
Don Davis, Editor-in-Chief, Internet Retailer
Ben Pressley, Head of Customer Success Group & Enterprise Strategy, Magento
Tony DiCostanzo, President, BookPal
Jessica Wetzel, eCommerce Manager, School Health Corp
Don Davis, Internet Retailer’s editor-in-chief, opened the webinar by noting how rapidly B2B commerce is growing. According to Forrester, B2B commerce is more than double the size of U.S. online retailing and will total $780 billion this year.
Ben Pressley, the head of Magento’s Customer Success Group & Enterprise Strategy, noted the recent surge of interest in B2B eCommerce. With over half of B2B buyers making purchases online in the next two years, B2B merchants need to be ready if they expect to drive more business online, reduce costs, and increase customer spending. To do that, B2B sellers need to focus on three primary areas: personalizing shopping experiences, providing convenient self-service features, and improving customer service.
Personalizing Shopping Experiences
Buyers expect your B2B eCommerce site to be just as intuitive, searchable, and personalized as most successful B2C sites are. Four of the ten tips for boosting the B2B shopping experience involve personalization:
Intuitive navigation and search: Make it easy for customers to navigate your site and rapidly find the products they’re looking for. Site search that enables filtering, sorting by business rules, synonyms, and autosuggest is one of the quickest and most effective ways to convert customers in the fewest clicks possible.
Account personalization: Customers want to know that you understand their business and are anticipating their unique needs. Account personalization enables you to customize their experiences and deliver targeted messaging that simplifies the ordering process.
Tailored, dynamic pricing: Dynamic pricing allows prices to reflect pre-configured business rules and negotiated contract pricing terms. Tailoring your pricing can both increase profitability and improve customer relationships.
Product recommendations: B2B customers want the convenience of retail shopping experiences, so you need to be able to generate product recommendations based on your customers’ tracked shopping habits.
B2B merchants like BookPal, a leading enterprise bookseller, are taking the lead in providing business customers with the types of experiences they’re used to seeing in the B2C world. According to Tony DiCostanzo, BookPal’s president, the best way to do this is to look at best practices in the consumer space. BookPal recognized that B2B buyers want to get from the home page to the product they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible, so the company improved its site search and streamlined navigation to make browsing faster for its business, education and health industry customers. The company offers bulk discount pricing that dynamically updates as customers change item quantity, enabling them to quickly fit orders to their school or corporate budgets.
Jessica Wetzel, School Health Corp’s eCommerce manager, saw a similar trend, and restructured the organization’s website by customer segment so clients can more easily find the relevant products they need. School Health Corp also builds custom landing pages that reflect contract pricing and product selection to personalize customer accounts. Both BookPal and School Health Corp leverage the data they collect from customers’ shopping habits to more accurately recommend products.
Providing Convenient Self-Service Features
Like B2C consumers, B2B customers prize convenience and efficiency to quickly find what they need. In fact, nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers agree that completing a purchase on a company’s website is more convenient than interacting with a sales representative. The next three tips for boosting the B2B shopping experience make the purchase process faster and easier:
Quick order/bulk entry: A user-friendly system that makes bulk ordering simple and straightforward saves customers’ time and improves their experience.
Intuitive reordering: Reordering features, such as adding a buy button to previous transactions, makes it easier for customers to self-serve so they can easily reorder recurring items on future visits.
Content/product information: Empowering customers to gain quick access to product information online, including updated product pricing, specifications, and availability, lets customers make more informed and accurate purchasing decisions on your site.
As a B2B bookseller, BookPal has extensive experience with these self-service features. DiCostanzo gave an example of a school wanting to bulk order copies of Romeo and Juliet and discovering that there are 120 different editions of the classic. BookPal saw an opportunity to help customers choose between versions. BookPal simplified the process by 1) creating customized product descriptions for each version—an effective tactic for SEO—and 2) adding product comparisons so that teachers and administrators can view each version side by side to see which one fits their curriculum needs better. Both of these have been effective for driving sales.
Improving Customer Service
Since B2B companies are accustomed to operating in relationship-based models offline, they expect the same level of customer service online. The last three tips for boosting the B2B shopping experience involve the following aspects of customer service:
Account management: You need to make it easy for organizations to manage their B2B accounts, users, and budgets. Account managers should be able to create user roles and assign varying degrees of access rights for viewing account information, searching for products, placing orders, etc.
Approval workflows: Online systems should streamline and expedite an organization’s approval processes. One way to do this is by automating some aspects of workflows. Another is by mirroring the approval process online.
Relationship management: By automating some of the more routine aspects of the purchase process, account managers can focus on being true relationship managers and counselors to their clients (as opposed to simply order takers). Effective relationship management helps you enhance the customer experience, focus your marketing efforts, and provide more personalized service.
To provide customers with a more seamless experience, BookPal recognized that it needed to simplify its order management process and enable the company to gain more visibility into orders. DiCostanzo shared how BookPal integrated its CRM platform to be able to view all order data, customer data, product information, and pricing rules. By having so much information at their fingertips, such as insights into purchasing trends, BookPal account managers are able to be much more proactive and consultative with customers.
To help improve customer service and keep both sales and customer care teams informed of what customers are doing online, Wetzel discussed how School Health Corp uses a marketing automation system that integrates with Magento and the company’s CRM software. It provides a well-rounded perspective for customer-facing teams so everyone can see, for example, what a visitor fills out on a webform and which pages he visited on the site. This online tool helps with lead scoring and improves account management.
Magento Is Leading the Way Forward
With 30 percent of Magento Enterprise Edition clients using the platform for B2B, we’re continuing to invest so that even more B2B clients can experience the power of our open ecosystem. Listen to a replay of the webinar and learn how to create B2B experiences your customers want with the most powerful eCommerce platform.