To be successful in B2B eCommerce operations requires proper strategic planning in terms of resource-assessment (both in-house and outsourced) to successfully plan and execute a B2B eCommerce operation that complements and strengthens the entire business flow, in a way that sales revenue, customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and customer experiences, all are optimum.
What is a B2B eCommerce with example
Aberdeen Group defines B2B eCommerce as follows:
“A term used to describe commerce transactions between businesses. These include the sale of raw materials and semi-finished products as well as the sale of products to wholesalers and retailers. The buyer of the products in these transactions is a business. The end-customer making the purchase is doing so on behalf of an organization.”
With the proliferation of technology and the internet of things (IOT), the researching methodologies of customers have evolved.
As such, to be successful in B2B eCommerce, the firms need to suffice the ever-evolving demands of their customers and need to address the precise needs of the customers through each of the stages in their buyers’ cycle.
To be successful in B2B eCommerce marketers need to run a B2B eCommerce channel which is inherently complicated as compared to B2C and involves the following challenges:
- Payment methods are vast including PO., Check, ACH., Terms, and Quote.
- There are a high number of variants for individual products and even custom needs
- As B2B eCommerce channels majorly rely on their websites for accomplishing sales, the look and feel of the website needs to be captivating and appreciate marketing campaigns that need to be executed for optimizing the reach of the customers on to the websites.
- Outbound sales also need to be paid attention to as oftentimes, they help in driving excellent sales conversions.
According to a report published by digitalcommerce360.com, in the year 2018, 48% of companies conduct 50-74% of all corporate purchases online and 23% of companies do 75% or more of their purchases online.
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, B2B firms must adopt an integrated enterprise-level approach to reduce the above-enlisted digital complexities to a minimal and follow the following steps to strengthen their grip and evolve in today’s ever-evolving marketplace:
1. Introspect if you should add eCommerce to your Business
The first step to being successful in B2B eCommerce involves marketers working out if eCommerce is something that is meant for them. Adding eCommerce to your business as a sales channel isn’t a cakewalk. It’s certainly much more than simply putting up a website and then going to work as usual.
To be successful in B2B eCommerce means the culture of the companies, their daily operational cores, and business architecture, all will undergo transcendence. B2B eCommerce firms have to have 100% assurance as to whether they want to do it or not.
Thus, the path to be successful in B2B eCommerce starts with introspecting all the reasons to add eCommerce to your business offerings.
2. Getting Things Ready
To be successful in B2B eCommerce means not just diving straight into briefing a website. Businesses need to brainstorm several aspects and go through this preparatory phase.
3. Making Your Website go live
To be successful in B2B eCommerce means getting ready for the eCommerce business model. When businesses prepare to venture to eCommerce business models, they need to get their website live to make the whole idea a reality.
B2B eCommerce is all about adopting inbound marketing skills to sell, of which, your website is an absolute imperative. Whether your B2B eCommerce framework will be successful or not depends a lot on the look and feel of your website, including things such as displaying your products, getting visitors to add the products to their basket, and finally ensuring that the order is placed.
This step is all about getting the right website for yourself including the selection of the right website builder and managing the whole project until your website is live.
4. Making the site launch and ongoing marketing a success
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, you needn’t just have a great website but also need to get your customers to use it to place orders. This is greatly aligned with the way marketers launch and market the website.
This step is all about planning and executing a great site launch, wherein there are initial marketing campaigns to get your customers using your website and afterward it’s about marketing strategies for additional traffic acquisition and optimized conversions.
To be successful in B2B eCommerce you just can’t take for granted that if you put a site live customers are going to use it. You have to make constant efforts to market your website and improve its reach and visibility.
5. Empower customers to change the dynamics of B2B eCommerce
To be successful in B2B eCommerce businesses need to overcome the organizational challenges faced in adapting to the era of empowered customers. B2B eCommerce firms need to focus on operationalizing changing customer needs through content and workflows.
The more you will hyper-tailor the customer experiences, the sooner they will make the buying decision, thereby streamlining the sales cycle.
Read more on How to Build Customer Loyalty with Content Marketing
6. Adopt an omnichannel strategy
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, businesses not just need to optimize their digital touch-points including social media, websites and mobile applications, but also need to have a physical presence for seamless customer experience across omnichannel.
B2B firms must address the demands of business buyers (customers) to provide phenomenal experiences, making it easier for them to research, purchase, and use the products as well as avail of the after-sales services.
7. Monitor the Changes in Customers’ Expectations
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, businesses must focus on a wide array of roles involved in B2B eCommerce transactions to monitor customer behavior. To optimize the digital interactions of the customers, companies must proactively address the changes in customers’ expectations.
B2B eCommerce interactions involve multiple stakeholders and complex workflows and companies must strike a balance between changing customers’ needs and operational efficiency.
8. Transparency across Technology Systems must be assured as it beholds the future of B2B eCommerce
To be successful in B2B eCommerce requires firms to assimilate more transparency into the backend systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), order management and supply chain management. This integration between eCommerce and back-end systems is vital and helps firms harness and use data from multiple systems to deliver timely and contextual customer interactions.
9. Building a Single View of Customer
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, companies need to have seamless interaction across enterprise systems. A complete view of the customer unlocks better business performance.
Companies that integrate back-end systems with eCommerce have a more accurate, timely and comprehensive view of inventory availability, order status or cost of selling a product. This equips organizations to reduce costs and optimize revenue.
Building a single view of the customer is a vital requirement to optimize omnichannel customer interactions successfully.
10. Build a best-in-class eCommerce Program
To be successful in B2B eCommerce requires businesses to streamline eCommerce workflows and processes and optimize the benefits of fully integrated systems. This can be quantifiably substantiated if the companies excel across metrics such as customer retention rate, Year-over-year change in the annual revenue of the company, Year-over-year change in customer satisfaction, and Year-over-year change in on-time order fulfillment.
11. Creating delightful Customer Interactions
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, businesses need to optimize eCommerce interactions for the customers regarding the three core attributes including customer-centricity (including customer retention rate and customer satisfaction), financial health (implied by annual ROI of the company), and operational excellence (Indicated by one-time order fulfillment). Optimizing customer interactions elevates the customer engagement metrics such as visitor engagement rate and operational readiness (eg. Time to market)
Lesser shopping cart abandonment, improvement in sales conversions, and visitor conversion rates imply that a business has mastered the skills and deployed the infrastructure needed to provide the customers with the content that they are looking for to increase the probability of purchase and drive optimum revenue.
12. Sync Your eCommerce Activities
To be successful in B2B eCommerce means that the eCommerce activities of businesses must be in sync with back-office activities. It helps optimize organizational success while delighting customers.
13. Establish a data-driven B2B eCommerce infrastructure
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, businesses must ease the customer effort to find relevant products by storing the customer search results within a dedicated system such as a CRM.
Content must only be promoted for the products available in stores.
The data in the CRM allows companies to identify which products the customers within a similar segment have looked at o purchased. This insight can further aid the market basket analysis to drive better targeting and optimize the revenue results.
14. Optimize the Content Experience
To be successful in B2B eCommerce businesses need to adapt to content based on customers’ devices and geo-location to deliver an optimal viewing experience.
Use dynamic content strategy wherever possible.
15. Get your Customer segmentation Right
To be successful in B2B eCommerce businesses need to use analytics and BI-tools. This helps in audience segmentation and in identifying the unique attributes of each segment.
The audience segmentation is based on several criteria such as demographic, firmographic, technographic, psychographic, fit-data, intent-data, past browsing history, research methodologies and buying behaviors of the customers.
The BI-tools help identify the unique attributes of each segment and personalize the content they use to interact with the customers across omnichannel based on those insights.
16. Use hyper-tailored content to deliver an omnichannel customer journey
To be successful in B2B eCommerce businesses need to use the power of technology to reduce customer effort. Adopting an omnichannel content strategy to deliver phenomenal experiences to customers across each touchpoint helps customers quickly purchase the products and also helps the purpose of customer retention and brand advocacy.
17. Be Agile
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, companies need to optimize their agility. There should be an adequate collaboration with the IT department to establish transparency and integration between several enterprise systems.
18. Addressing Customer Priorities Proactively
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, businesses need to focus on building a strategic alliance to address customer priorities such as security of personal data handling and processing. Collaboration between IT and eCommerce businesses’ operation helps establish and maintain a deception protection plan that ensures that each buyer and order is authentic and safe from potential frauds.
19. Use Content tailored to specific buying cycles and channels and employ omnichannel retargeting
To be successful in B2B eCommerce requires businesses to use a content strategy tailored to suit the specific buying cycles of the prospects as well as employee an omnichannel retargeting strategy to win back the customers who once visited the websites and then drifted due to diverse reasons.
The right content strategy, whether be in the form of blog posts, other pieces of information or marketing ad campaigns, helps B2B eCommerce firms drive optimum site traffic, conversions as well as achieve maximum cross-selling and up-selling effectiveness.
20. Map the customer journey
To be successful in B2B requires businesses to deliver dynamic, relevant and personalized experiences across omnichannel by mapping customers’ journeys end-to-end. This not only helps in improving the efficiency of marketing campaigns but also helps in optimizing the Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).
21. Handle the Complexity of Your eCommerce Businesses
To be successful in B2B eCommerce businesses need to mitigate their eCommerce challenges by having better collaboration with the IT department and working in an agile fashion.
They also need to align their content strategies with ever-evolving changes in the customers’ expectations.
Wrapping Things Up
To be successful in B2B eCommerce, you wouldn’t find the eCommerce expertise and competency right away. Obtaining the incremental revenue and efficiencies available through eCommerce is an exciting but gradual process which will require split-testing and optimization of several workflows and marketing strategies.
Valasys Media provides hyper-tailored B2B services including Event Marketing, Content Syndication, Lead Generation, Contact Discovery, Account-Based Marketing, Lead Nurturing & Appointment Setting to help marketers optimize the business bottom-lines aligned with their marketing endeavors.
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