Keys to a Successful B2B Ecommerce Website
If you’ve been waiting for business to return to normal after COVID-19, you no longer have to wait: this is the new normal. Welcome to a highly-personalized, digital world.
The rules of ecommerce are changing and the new normal is driving those changes.
Here’s what it takes to have a successful B2B ecommerce website
It’s been a year since COVID-19 changed the way business does business. As more and more data pours in, the findings are conclusive: your buyers have adapted to a digital lifestyle. Gone are the days of meet-and-greets, handshakes and crowded conference rooms. Busy purchasers like the convenience of online interactions and the autonomy of self-service ecommerce websites.
If your B2B company hasn’t completed its digital transition yet, there is no better time. Delaying another year will not only cost you sales, but it will also become more expensive and more complex the longer you postpone. For those who intend to take action, here are some of the most important B2B ecommerce trends to consider for your B2B website.
Ecommerce is the new norm
The most popular method for B2B clients to make their purchases is now on the supplier’s website. This is no longer just a B2C trend. It has already surpassed phone and email. According to research by BigCommerce, credit cards account for 94 percent of online purchases, although credit terms, checks and purchase orders are still vital to about half of the companies surveyed. Mobile wallets like Google Pay, Amazon Pay and Apple Pay are rising in popularity, with 26 percent of companies already adopting them. Bottom line: easy payment options make for happier customers.
The competition is already entrenched
Most suppliers have already started selling through a B2B website and, of those who are, 78 percent have been doing so for at least two to five years, longer in some cases. When USI Laminate, a leading US manufacturer of lamination supplies, 3D printers and 3D printing supplies, listened to and addressed client complaints about needing a better online customer experience, it reported:
- Increased sales*
- Increased new customers*
- Increased average order size*
- Reduced bounce rate by 25%
- Improved number of site visits*
- Improved page views, and amount of time spent on relevant pages*
*At the request of our client, these results will not be released. (But they are really happy with the numbers!)
Those who were left behind are emerging fast
Of the suppliers who have not yet embraced ecommerce, the vast majority plan to adopt a digital transformation by 2023. Those companies who are acting now, according to recent Garner research, should expect 30 percent more revenue and 20 percent cost savings compared to those who delay taking action beyond the next 24 months.
Your audience changed overnight
The B2B audience used to be, for the large part, baby boomers and Generation X. They were buyers you groomed using print-outs, trade shows and sales brochures. According to data from BigCommerce, this all changed in 2020. Millennials now represent 73 percent of the B2B audience. Not only are they digital natives, born and raised in an internet-based culture, but they also have more college education than their predecessors, and — perhaps more importantly — they are steeped in student loan debt. This means that the majority of buyers are:
- Ready to embrace the latest technologies
- Budget-conscious by nature
- Suspicious of any lack of transparency, real or perceived
Online chat and video are no longer optional
According to a recent McKinsey report, COVID-19 drastically transformed how B2B business is done. Since the outbreak began a year ago, B2B interactions done in-person decreased 52 percent. Meanwhile, interactions with online chat increased 23 percent and video conferencing interactions increased 41 percent. Practically no one who was surveyed indicated that they wanted to return to the old ways of doing business. In fact, evidence shows the increase in online interactions would be even higher if more suppliers had adopted the new technologies faster than they have been. The takeaway is that if your phone is still ringing, it’s likely because you haven’t given your customers a more convenient option yet.
Self-service can be a premium service
Not too long ago, buyers were often reluctant to make large purchases online, particularly from a new supplier. But that’s not the reality anymore. According to McKinsey’s report, clients are quite happy to spend more for a seamless end-to-end digital self-service experience or have only remote interactions with your sales staff. In fact, 70 percent of survey respondents were willing to spend more than $50K with a supplier who offers this experience — and 15 percent of them were willing to spend over $1 million.
UX should be seamless
The complexities of your supply chain that go on behind your website’s front end are your business, you want to keep it that way. Purchasers expect a seamless user experience. If your website is pulling data directly from your suppliers, make sure it isn’t being bogged down by slow loading times, low-res images and a mish-mash of product descriptions written in different formats. When clients come to your website, they expect it to represent your branding. It should not feel like a virtual flea market.
UX should embrace mobile technology
Another interesting trend that came from BigCommerce research last year was the rise of the smartphone in B2B ecommerce. Today, smartphones account for about 70 percent of all B2B queries, and over 40 percent of B2B revenue. At the same time, about half of B2B purchasers identified a personalized experience as a vital feature when searching for new suppliers. When a supplier does give them that personalized experience, buyers spend about 48 percent more.
In 2021, small is going to be big
Thanks to platforms like Shopify, small online retailers have surged in popularity. This trend has started to carry over to the B2B marketplace. So if you’re a small supplier in a niche market, now is the time to launch your digital transformation. Large suppliers should have no problem capitalizing on this growing trend as well. Using headless architecture, you can customize your user experience regardless of the platform they use, or the niche they represent.
If you’d like to know which options make the most sense for your business, just ask an Acro Media ecommerce consultant.