As everyone works from home and navigates the ‘new normal’, B2B online marketplaces are seeing a natural shift in their customers’ buying preferences. While in-person interactions are at a standstill, digital purchasing has become more important than ever to keep businesses running. As we continue to navigate through this time of disruption, B2B sellers should consider looking to B2C best practices for a fresh take on how to stay relevant with their customers.
In fact, recent survey data, done in partnership between Futurum Research and SAP Digital Commerce, uncovered that B2B customers are motivated by the ease and pace of B2C shopping. Consumers have become accustomed to simple online one-click buying in their personal lives, and B2B buyers want that same level of simplicity and convenience to translate to their professional lives as well.
While B2B buying will always be a more involved process than B2C purchases – no instant gratification or impulse buys here – there are still a few things B2B brands can take from B2C models to incorporate into their own digital selling strategies.
Put customer experience in the driver’s seat
I dove into how the concept of customer experience as a key driver for revenue growth definitely isn’t going anywhere in my last article for CustomerThink. Our research indicates that almost 62% of businesses are making their enterprise software purchases online due to time and resource efficiency. Just like B2C buying, B2B decision makers want to be able to acquire what they need quickly and with the same ease of use they would get if they were buying something for themselves via Amazon. This is an area where experience is key.
B2B companies need to provide quick and simple access online to the products and solutions customers need without them having to waste time wading through page after page to find information, trials and purchase options. In this business climate, B2B sellers have to go beyond competing on just products and price points alone. The customer experience on their online platform needs to be seamless and engaging if they want to see customers return.
Create a quick and simple path to purchase
In its 2019 B2B eCommerce Playbook, Forrester predicted B2B e-commerce in the U.S. will reach $1.8 trillion by 2023. This means B2B organizations have a massive opportunity to grow their revenue via digital buying channels.
Overall, any consumer, whether shopping on Amazon for the latest deals or shopping on a vendor website for business products and solutions, is looking for the fastest and most frictionless way to reach check-out and get what they need. For B2B buyers, a lot of what they are looking for ties into operational efficiency. Just like a business needs operational efficiency in its everyday internal operations, B2B buyers have come to rely on this efficiency as they move through their buyer journey, especially in the transaction phase.
At the end of the day, the most effective B2B digital marketplaces are ones that have removed all barriers – such as difficult page navigation or unclear calls to action – that might keep a customer from completing a purchase once they’ve decided on what they want. One-click, on-page buttons, various payment options, transparent terms and conditions, and well-defined expectation management for what will happen post-transaction are no longer ‘nice-to-haves’ but a requirement for better B2B buying and happy, dedicated customers.
Give transparency, build trust
A lot of consumer marketplaces, especially in the apparel and home goods spaces, are adding features to their online and mobile offerings where consumers can virtually “try on” or “try out” a product before they buy it. On top of this, star ratings and customer reviews are almost always included on the product page and are easy to find and read through.
The B2B sector can mirror these customer touchpoints by offering price transparency and product trials. I made the case for product trials in my last article, noting that 90 percent of organizations see them as a key factor in guiding their purchasing decisions. This isn’t surprising, especially when we think about it another way – not many people would purchase a home without first taking a tour, right?
To further provide transparency and build trust with customers, B2B companies should always give price transparency. It supports a more connected customer experience and adds more long-term value to the relationship by letting customers explore varying price options before making a purchase decision. This lets customers know exactly what they are purchasing and how much it will cost before the transaction is even started.
While these aren’t necessarily new concepts, they are areas that B2C has spent the last several years prioritizing, whereas they’ve only become more relevant for B2B buying in the last couple of years. The bottom line is that digital buying is now a core tenet of B2B interactions, helping companies reach specific goals unique to their digital transformation strategies and journey.