Boost Your B2B eCommerce sales with these simple tips
While much of the discussion is taking place around B2C eCommerce, B2B is gaining a lot of momentum. For one thing, B2B eCommerce is becoming a bigger revenue generator in the U.S. as well as in the global market, thanks to big B2B giants like Alibaba and Amazon. In fact, 2014 research from Frost & Sullivan indicates that B2B eCommerce market will be worth $6.7 trillion by 2020, with Alibaba dominating the market leadership position.
Understanding B2B Market
B2B eCommerce in the U.S. is almost twice the size of B2C eCommerce and, according to the findings of Forrester Research, B2B eCommerce sales in the U.S. will exceed $1.1 trillion by 2020, representing 12 percent of total B2B sales. The study also found that the industry will experience a 7.7 per cent of compound annual growth rate over the coming five years.
It is true that B2B eCommerce offers stupendous opportunities in the coming days. But before jumping on the B2B bandwagon, there are a few things you need to understand. For example, online B2B sellers need to provide a customer experience similar to that of a B2C environment. It is also important to understand that expectations have grown considerably in the past few years. Business-to-business buyers now expects a simple, intuitive eCommerce experience just like the consumer purchase model with detailed product description and specifications.
Achieving this, however, is easier said than done as there are certain key differences between B2B and B2C eCommerce. B2C, for instance, has a relatively simple sales model. It is easy to display and market products. Besides, there are fixed prices and shipping is easy as quantities are low. Moreover, it requires little regulation and the tax complexity is almost absent. B2B environment, in comparison, has a different setting.
Volumes are much higher and so are prices, which are also highly variable. Products are available in much wider range and B2B requires a more flexible logistic and shipping solutions. In fact, shipping usually takes more time in B2B settings especially due to the higher volume of products ordered. Besides, it typically involves a large number of employees responsible for delivering products to the buyers. Tax and regulations are more complex in nature and highly impact sales.
That said, some of the major B2B eCommerce players are trying to gap these differences to provide a user experience typical to B2C landscape. Amazon Business – The B2B portal for Amazon.com, for example, offers “free two-day shipping on orders of $49 or more.” Besides, it provides detailed product specifications, a customer review section, tax-exempt purchasing and more in order to provide a B2C eCommerce-like user experience.
B2B eCommerce Marketing Challenges
The biggest challenge that B2B sellers face is perhaps marketing their products. In fact, marketing becomes even more complex for these sellers as clients here first need to understand how an item works, especially with other existing systems before they make the final purchase decision. The 'black box' theory doesn’t really work here as a B2B customers will never buy a product without having a real interest in how the item works, which is typically dominant in B2C. This alone makes B2B marketing more complex.
However, this also makes B2B marketing more interesting, increasing its value. It requires more than conventional means to resolve such issues. The following are three tips to help you boost your B2B eCommerce sales, with a corresponding situation typical to B2B environment.
1. Create a Robust Catalog for More Technical, Complex Products
B2B products are generally more technical and complex in nature. Their higher intricacy in manufacturing these products makes it even more difficult to pen-down their exact specifications. As a result, we often have a B2B product catalog that lacks the minute details which is common in B2C product catalogs. However, online B2B sellers need to understand that this alone can cause a potential buyer leave their eStore, adding only to their higher bounce rate.
What you need is a robust product catalog that provide information about all your offerings in details. In addition, provide advanced search options with sorting and filtering features in your B2B eCommerce store. This will help the potential buyers to find what they are exactly looking for; hence, improving their user experience.
If possible, allow your buyers to customize their orders according to their individual requirements.
2. Focus on Your About Us Page
More often than not, B2B eCommerce websites lacks a proper ‘About Us’ page. They fail to understand that the company is as important as their product, if not more. It’s about branding and building trust for the company. B2B products usually come with a higher price tag and therefore it is important for your potential buyers to trust your first before they make a purchase decision. If your eCommerce website lacks your company information, your potential buyers are less likely to put their trust on you as they have no idea about your brand. They need to believe that you stand true to your promises.
This is where your ‘About Us’ page will come in use. Tell your company’s store so that your potential buyers can relate with your journey. Additionally, talk about your key members to build a sense of trustworthiness. Don’t just talk about your products always, tell people about your corporate philosophy. Sound more humane in your approach. If possible, get testimonials from existing customers and partners to build trust.
3. Leverage Content Marketing to Nurture Leads
In B2B environment, sales cycle usually takes more time than B2C mainly to due to the product specificity and higher volume. A sale may take a month or even a year or more to convert, depending on the nature and volume of the product. Therefore, lead generation alone is not enough. B2B sellers need to nurture leads as well. This also means, B2B sellers needs to market their products for a longer sales cycle.
While this is really difficult to do in reality, content marketing provides enough opportunity for B2B sellers to nurture their leads. You need to engage your potential buyers and relevant content is your secret weapon to do it. Invest your time and effort in creating compelling newsletters, whitepapers and webinars to generate and nurture leads. How? Simply exchange your content for their contact information. Whenever a visitor tries to download a whitepaper or a PDF file, prompt them to fill out a lead form in exchange and send them targeted emails at regular intervals to nurture the leads.
B2B landscape differs from B2C in many respects. But if you really want to boost your B2B eCommerce sales, you need to understand one thing – these buyers are no different than B2C buyers and have similar expectations that someone would have from a B2C eCommerce store. As more and more B2B buyers are buying products online, their expectations for a seamless user experience is also increasing. Moreover, strong market growth is indicated over the coming years, it is therefore recommended to brace up and leverage the opportunities the B2B market is currently providing.