B2B companies have typically operated in relationship-based models with customers offline. However, more are moving toward offering online purchasing, with 86% of businesses having moved their offline customers to an online model, according to a survey by Cleverbridge, an e-commerce platform provider. In fact, B2B online revenue is expected to reach $800 billion to $1 trillion by year-end, the survey said. This paradigm shift will provide exciting opportunities for online sellers to get ahead of the shift and take advantage of it.
To build a solid presence in this new environment, B2B companies can learn a great deal from their B2C counterparts. Here are three B2C strategies that B2B companies can incorporate.
1. People over purchasers. Traditionally, B2B companies tend to view customers as entities, rather than viewing them as individual people. Unfortunately, this causes a seller to discredit the importance of a personal shopping experience. What would happen if the seller shifted the thought process from solely providing a solid price point to providing a quality, personal experience as well? If sellers take time to engage customers and help them make purchase decisions conveniently and confidently, the results have been proven to be positive.
2. Define buyer personas. To provide a better website experience, B2B sellers should start by defining “customer personas.” These profiles will ensure the web team considers the perspectives of various customers when evaluating site improvements and changes. Using these personas allows B2B sellers to also identify the priorities of each customer persona and tailor the e-commerce experience to meet their needs. B2B sellers must identify the positive and negative experiences customers have when shopping online and ask questions like, “What do I want as a buyer? What frustrates customers? Is the website clear? Is it engaging and presentable? Is it easy to navigate?” From there, sellers can begin to understand what their customer groups want and need.
3. Shifting perspective. Thinking of customers as simply purchasers and not as consumers is one of the most common and expensive mistakes a B2B seller can make. Adopting a B2C perspective is key to being successful and retaining customers long-term. The customer experience in a B2B environment is just as important as the customer experience in the B2C market. As B2B purchasing online is becoming the norm, sellers can’t afford to put the B2B online experience at the bottom of their priority list. Instead, like their B2C counterparts, they should constantly utilize A/B testing strategies for improving website performance.
With these changes in place, B2B sellers will be able to compare the modified page’s performance to the original by showing each page to different visitors to see which one performs best. Providing a B2B experience that lives up to what customers have grown accustomed to with leading B2C sites not only benefits the consumer, it also has a tangible payoff for the company through increased conversions and lifts in average order value.