November 28, 2017
Growing B2B sales is a top priority for an ever-growing count of merchants, and their customers want a personalized experienced. With B2B eCommerce expected to be twice as large as the B2C market in five years, there’s a need to step it up for all in the marketplace. Recognizing that B2B expectations are shaped by B2C experiences is vital. Yet B2B eCommerce shopping journeys remain on average today, not on par with those in the B2C landscape.
B2B and Personalization
Personalization was once deemed the concern of B2C retailers only. That’s because a B2C purchase is often done with emotion over logic. Their online purchasing can often be quick, impulsive one-off buys. B2C customers are certainly perfect for personalized targeted marketing that speaks directly to their feelings, personality traits, and what they’re into—especially when they’re still towards the beginning of their buying journey. Now, smart merchants know they need to utilize it as a driver for customer experience—as vital in B2B as it is for B2C customers.
Whilst vital similarities need first be recognized between the two customer groups, there are key and specific differences in the nature of the buying journey in B2B. There are often multiple individuals involved in the buying process, for instance, and their buying decisions tend to be more logical.
B2B customers require a buying process that feels secure and informed. They need plenty of information and brilliant customer service, all delivered with great efficiency, and they need to know that they’re in the right place to get their individual pain points resolved. A B2B customer might take longer to convert, but the payoff is they could become a repeated client with large orders over a long period of time.
We have entered the age of the personalized web. Consumers want to be treated as individuals with specific needs—B2B buyers are no exception. Being used to personalization perks during their B2C online shopping experiences, they now expect the same from their B2B purchasing.
Differentiate yourself from your competitors with an enriched personalized customer experience. B2B personalization can be applied to:
Personalized accounts: Customers want to know you understand their business and can anticipate their needs. Account personalization enables you to customize their experiences and deliver targeted messaging.
Recommendations and product listing: Tailor your home and product pages to match each user’s history on your site. And save their preferences and shopping carts too. 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.
Navigation and search: Make it easy for customers to navigate your site and find the products they want. Use site search that allows for filtering, sorting by business rules, synonyms, and autosuggest. You should also adapt search results based on preferences and behaviors and drive further sales, for cross-selling or upselling opportunities.
Quick repeat ordering: B2B customers usually know exactly what they want and will order again. Make purchases easier by highlighting their previous orders and automating re-orders.
Social media: Don’t make the mistake of thinking social isn’t important in the B2B marketplace. Successful B2B merchants are bringing together sales and marketing departments to develop social-selling tactics to build relationships with buyers. Research suggests the bigger spenders tend to use social as part of their journey.
Customizable pricing: With Magento features, customers can receive the right products and pricing information with personalized price lists. Dynamic prices involve reflecting pre-configured business rules and negotiated contract pricing terms. Tailoring your pricing can increase profitability and improve satisfaction.
Showing balance / credit on a trade account: Something we do with success for one of our clients whose audience can monitor where they are expense-wise on a project easily, knowing what they have left to allocate to products on a project, and so being able to accurately quote to their clients on costings.
Loyalty programs: Offer rewards to personalize the customer experience and reward them to shop more you. Not historically seen as so applicable for B2B selling, this report by Forrester demonstrates its importance for B2B marketers.
All devices: Make sure that all your personalization features are fully optimized for mobile too. Long gone are the days when you should be picturing your B2B buyer at their desktop only, a mobile B2B focus is essential today. Our client Perch & Parrow is an excellent example and they won the Imagine Excellence Award for mobile design.
Ad networks: Remember the best B2B experiences replicate those of B2C, and retargeting has become sophisticated and accurate for consumers. The presence of online ads increases brand awareness and purchase intent. If you do remarketing through Google or other ad networks, be specific on products or categories whenever you can.
Personalization is no longer an option in the world of B2B eCommerce. When you provide personalization for customers, you are designing your customer experience, for the way they think, work and shop. Buyers will then be able to more easily find the products they need, and loyalty will increase—because you’ve shown you understand their business. So, it’s now about choosing your priorities and planning for an ever-evolving personalized future.
About Phoebe Haig and JH
Phoebe Haig is the Marketing Manager at JH, an award-winning Magento eCommerce digital agency in Nottingham, UK. JH focus on the build and design of bespoke, powerful, Magento Commerce sites, centered around customer experience—bringing real measurable results to their clients. JH has been building eCommerce B2B solutions since 2009, and know that B2B customers have specific needs, but are also consumers too. We understand their journey, their pain-points and how to solve them. Our sites offer solutions and have customers coming back time and time again. You can find out more about JH at www.wearejh.com, and take a look at their blog, stacked with eCommerce insight and news at www.wearejh.com/blog. Find us on Twitter @wearejh.