Online Product Catalogs: 4 Ways They Enhance Your B2B Buying Experience
April 3, 2018
A change in traditional B2B buyer behavior is forcing manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers to innovate or be left behind by their competitors. Your B2B buyers now expect an online shopping experience as seamless as the B2C experience. So how can you innovate to keep up?
From what we’ve seen in the industry, many B2B companies are only reacting to the trend toward eCommerce adoption, and not treating its emergence as a critical component of their future business strategy. One example of this is that many B2B companies are still printing catalogs.
If you look way back to the beginning of B2B sales, printed mail order catalogs were the primary way retailers, merchants, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers raised awareness about their businesses and sell products—up until now.
There’s a profound shift underway as online catalogs are slowly replacing print catalogs. Fewer catalogs than ever before are being circulated in the world for a variety of reasons, including the rising cost of postage, high production, shifts in marketing budget allocation, and even the negative environmental impact of mass-print. Your business should no longer rely on sending out gigantic paper catalogs, and let’s admit it; they weren’t the greatest user experiences to begin with.
B2B companies should shift a focus from the physical catalogs they send to instead leverage the many benefits of a digital catalog. Digital catalogs have multi-functional capabilities and come at a fraction of the cost for increased brand penetration.
In Demac Media’s many years of experience helping B2B companies transition to and sell more online, we’ve seen an increase in of ROI directly from the implementation of a digital/online product catalog.
Here are some of the many ways it can help your business, and why you invest in a digital catalog:
1. They Bridge the Gap Between Offline and Online
Digital catalogs can augment the physical to deliver a better omnichannel experience that positively influences buyer behavior. One of the biggest challenges for B2B eCommerce is channel conflict. One of best solutions to this challenge is the use of digital tools, like an online catalog, to empower your sales team.
B2B companies see more success in augmenting sales calls with digital catalogs because it gives customers the option to browse 24/7 and self-serve when they want. Furthermore, your sales teams will benefit greatly from a powerful, easy to access system of product, pricing, and inventory information. A digital product catalog isn’t only for customers. It’s valuable sales empowerment tool.
2. They Provide Real-time Information
According to By a ratio of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate. Digital catalogs give you the ability to show shoppers product, pricing, and inventory information in real-time. Automating and digitizing your catalog will reduce the occurrence of errors in your data and lead to a less frustrating experience for buyers. In a survey of B2B Buyers by Forrester, it was found that 53% of buyers preferred to gather information on their own versus interacting with a sales rep.
We know that pricing in B2B is heavily customer-centric and dependent on a number of factors. With digital catalogs, companies can configure pricing and catalogs based on specific clients and customer segments, and easily automate price changes.
3. They Elevate Your SEO and Lead Generation
SEO as a customer acquisition tactic is no-longer limited to the B2C sphere. B2B companies should shift their strategies as B2B buyer behavior has changed significantly with 73% of global traffic to B2B companies coming from search engine results. A digital catalog is the best way to make your product available to a massive audience, and get crawled by search engines like Google. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the go-to tool of digital marketers to acquire new customers since your customers are researching their businesses purchases online just as much as personal purchases.
This online research also helps generate leads for your salespeople. The funnel is flipped; B2B lead generation is starting with the customer as their search for your products.
4. They Give You Data
With digital catalogs, B2B companies can also leverage the knowledge of data specialists and use digital tools to trace the customer journey, in a way similar B2C retailers are doing (i.e. mapping the buyer-journey from Facebook to Checkout). Having this data in-hand will allow you to make smarter decisions for your business. B2B companies are collecting this offline to online, or online to offline data to create lookalike audiences and better remarketing campaigns, to drive even more business growth.
Embrace the Digital-First Experience Your Buyers Want
If you want to survive in the new commerce reality, you need to meet the needs of the new B2B buyer.
We’re not saying you need to leave behind your physical product catalogs completely, but you can use digital catalogs to automate parts of the buying experience and satisfy the demands of B2B buyers in an omnichannel world.
A digital catalog provides you with new opportunities to innovate and evolve, thereby attracting a new wider customer base, while improving the buying experience for your current customers, and making it even easier for your salespeople to do their jobs—and easier for your business to stay competitive.
About Brianne Price and Demac Media
Brianne Price is the Content Marketing Manager at Demac Media. She helps businesses navigate the commerce landscape so they can build sustainably and create amazing experiences for their customers. Founded in 2007, Demac Media is an award-winning commerce agency based out of Toronto. From day one, our company’s mission has been to be at the core of commerce and help grow the industry. We do so by providing best in class commerce solutions for high-performance online businesses using the most versatile methodology. So far, we’ve helped over 100 commerce companies identify opportunities around revenue growth, market reach, and operational efficiency in their online businesses. Click here to connect with an expert and learn how we can help you Plan, Build, and Grow online.