Last week, we introduced a two-part blog series providing a deep dive into the customer experience challenges B2B business are facing. Our first post in this series focused on what we think are three of the seven most important challenges when it comes to B2B website usability. This week we will cover the other four.
4. Making online ordering quick and painless
Online B2B stores need to make it easy for their customers to quickly place orders. This can be done several ways. Repeat orders can be stored and automatically brought up whenever the customer logs in, allowing them to then use a Quick Order Form to alter it without having to visit each individual product page. Alternatively, orders that do not change, but must nevertheless be placed on a regular basis, can be set to automatically renew. The customer can then change or cancel it if need be, but otherwise will not have to do a thing.
5. Managing lots of products, many with only slight variations
In addition to giving customers the ability to search through products using multiple parameters, as well as dividing brands up in microsites according to different customer segments, online B2B stores need to take into account how well their e-commerce platform can handle large amounts of data. It is not uncommon for a B2B business to have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of SKUs, each of which will contain detailed product data, descriptions, and even reviews. In order to give their customers a positive experience, all this information needs to be efficiently indexed and organized so that it can be brought up at any time.
6. The ability to customize and configure products
Product customization is yet another feature offered by consumer-facing websites that has become in-demand for the B2B world. Car manufacturers, such as Dodge allow their customers to specify dozens of individual features, in addition to financing options, all online. Likewise, B2B companies should give their customers the ability to tailor and view customized products as they see fit.
The challenge here is adapting mass customization for the complexities of B2B. Unlike the straightforward sales process that consumers face, the B2B buying process involves a range of different factors and decision-makers, each weighing their own criteria. However, those businesses that can address these needs and deliver a customized selling process will undoubtedly gain a powerful advantage over their competitors.
7. Providing useful product information
At this point, it should go without saying that a successful B2B store will have thorough descriptions for each of their products. This is not only helpful for customers, but will increase the store’s web visibility.
However, because B2B businesses rely on repeat orders so much, they have the opportunity to take this a step further. By using what they know about their customers, such as their company position or particular field, a B2B store can alter what kind of information is displayed. For example, a mechanic might be interested in seeing the technical specifications of a product, while a field rep would not. This level of personalization can make it much easier for the customer to find what they are looking for, thereby simplifying the selling process and increasing the bottom line.
Designing a successful B2B e-commerce site involves not only borrowing some of consumer retail’s best practices and learning how to adapt them for B2B, but being able to recognize what will work for your particular customers. What features do they value? What will help their businesses the most? Considering these questions, along with these seven challenges, is how you should begin building your e-commerce store.
Are there any other challenges facing B2B website usability? What about additional solutions that we didn’t address? Join the conversation and let us know what you think!