Ecommerce is today’s main B2C shopping channel, and it is finally coming to the B2B industrial sector. Getting into ecommerce can be intimidating and complicated at first. Luckily, building a good B2B ecommerce strategy is straightforward with a few key tips. These tactics will benefit any industrial business’s B2B ecommerce strategy, helping you support your team and give your customers the best possible experience.
The first step toward creating a successful B2B ecommerce strategy is finding the right team to spearhead the project. Having the right people on the job will ensure your business gets the best results possible.
An in-depth study by McKinsey found only 40% of B2B businesses have successfully created an ecommerce channel that is more appealing than their traditional offline channels. This leaves a great window where your business can stand out with a high-performance B2B ecommerce platform. Accomplishing that starts with an expert team developing your online channels.
A strong B2B ecommerce team will have a working knowledge of ecommerce trends and best practices. They will be able to find and craft the right platform for your company and customize it to stand out against competitors. Perhaps most importantly, they will have a clear and detailed understanding of your unique audience and how to best reach and serve them.
As with any new project, getting started in ecommerce is more manageable when you start small and grow from there. It may be helpful early on to focus on a few products or a specific line of products to sell through your new ecommerce channel. You can add more products and services as you test and improve your platform.
Building a growth plan from the start is extremely helpful when developing a B2B ecommerce strategy. It gives your team a roadmap to follow, with goals and benchmarks to aim for along the way. In addition to a plan for when and how to add new products to your ecommerce channel, you can also schedule regular performance reviews to see what’s working and what needs improvement.
Two of the top benefits of B2B ecommerce are reaching more buyers and reaching new markets. More and more individuals and business leaders are turning to digital channels to make purchases – even in the tens of thousands of dollars or more. As more potential customers move online, so will more B2B industrial businesses.
To compete in this landscape and build brand loyalty, you have to share your business’s unique expertise and story. Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on their “about” page to accomplish this. However, research has found that users only read about 20% of the text on webpages on average.
Instead, tell your story through compelling photos, videos, and headline text around your ecommerce site. Your customers should be able to tell at a glance what your business is all about and what makes you different.
Building a website can be an exciting, creative process, but getting started may be more complicated than it seems. Before you can start designing your new B2B ecommerce site, you’ll need to choose the right platform for it. This will be the way your website is designed, operated, and hosted.
There are two main avenues: “off-the-shelf” platforms and custom platforms. Off-the-shelf ecommerce platforms include third-party website builders, content management systems, and enterprise-level platforms. Examples of website builders include Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. WordPress and Shopify are highly popular and versatile content management systems. Larger enterprise-level platforms include Microsoft Sharepoint and Adobe Experience Manager.
All of these platforms have some level of customization, though with varying levels of quality, variety, pricing, and functionality. Of course, industrial businesses breaking into ecommerce for the first time may have a smoother start with a simpler platform. For those that do want maximum control, flexibility, and customization, having a platform custom-designed by professional website builders will be the way to go.
One of your top priorities when creating your B2B ecommerce strategy should be the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) on your website. These can make or break the success of your ecommerce channel.
Regardless of how polished the design of the website is or how many products are available on it, if your ecommerce website is not easy to navigate and use, potential customers will leave. For example, most of the top reasons why people click off websites are related to the site’s design and structure, with 94% saying an outdated design alone will make them uncomfortable. When people consider spending money online, they use the design quality of a website to gauge whether or not it is legitimate and trustworthy. As a result, a poor UI and UX can have serious consequences for your B2B ecommerce success.
Creating a high-quality UI and UX can be relatively easy with a few best practices. Design consistency, clarity, and simplicity are key. Stick to easy-to-read fonts and a cohesive color palette that matches your business’s brand and target audience. Additionally, remember to design your B2B ecommerce website so that it works well on mobile devices as well as desktops.
While B2B ecommerce does offer many opportunities for growth and building connections with customers, you will also need to be aware of potential cyber threats. This is especially important since Industry 4.0 is going to funnel more and more business to digital channels in the years ahead. So, any comprehensive B2B ecommerce strategy will need to address cybersecurity measures.
Retail cybersecurity measures vary depending on the scale and platform. There are some common best practices, though. For example, securing your checkout pages is critical. This is where your customers will be entering sensitive information, so it is crucial to have a secure checkout system in place. This includes verifying customers’ information before charging them and using account protection technology, such as multi-factor authentication.
Additionally, your B2B ecommerce channel, as well as all of your servers and company devices, should be protected by antivirus software and secure firewalls. Segmenting data can help fortify your system against any attacker that does manage to breach your security.
Creating an effective, versatile B2B ecommerce strategy is simply a matter of addressing a few key components and building from there. After outlining your initial strategy, remember to continue updating and refining it. Track key metrics, such as sales and site traffic, to get a clear understanding of how your strategy is performing. Continually optimizing your B2B ecommerce strategy will ensure you stay at the cutting edge of industrial ecommerce markets and build strong connections with customers.