Today’s buyers are accustomed to the Amazon experience: a multi-million-dollar web platform with a streamlined interface and a highly predictive process. For years, B2B customers tempered their commerce in comparison with consumer shopping. But with U.S. B2B eCommerce set to reach $1.2 trillion by 2021, an adequate online presence is no longer sufficient to satisfy customers who expect the gold standard of omni-channel shopping.
Omni-channel customers are 25% more profitable than customers who only shop in-store. But a digital makeover and sophisticated customer analytics are often out of reach for many B2B companies, especially those identified as small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). In this case, a few simple strategies can improve the B2B omni-channel buying experience.
Multiple Payment Options
While B2B buyers of the past were wary of the security of mobile purchasing, that mindset has drastically shifted. Mobile’s share of eCommerce is expected to surpass 50% by 2021; and in the B2B world, 25% of executives say they’ve purchased a business-related product or service exceeding $100,000 directly from a mobile device.
This migration signals not just a desire, but a requirement, for seamless, on-the-go B2B purchasing that matches executives’ busy schedules. These tech-savvy B2B buyers prefer the ease and accessibility of mobile wallets and trusted third-party vendors that store shipping and payment information for one-click purchasing.
Buyers also appreciate multiple payment methods for financing bigger purchases, whether in-store or online. Large business purchases can strain standard credit limits, so offering trusted third-party payment options and methods like buying on terms empowers a buyer to complete the purchase immediately and establishes a trusting relationship.
The next steps:
- Assess the point-of-purchase experience from the buyer’s standpoint to ensure their expectations are being fully met. While it’s critical to maintain a forward-thinking reputation by offering multiple payment options, traditional buyers still may prefer credit cards and invoices. Provide a variety of payment methods, both traditional and innovative, to cater to the widest customer pool.
In a well-rounded, consistent omni-channel experience, vendors don’t just know what customers are purchasing now — they know what those customers will want next. Predictive experiences that suggest items based on browsing and purchase histories help make Amazon and other eCommerce giants a near-indispensable part of the consumer experience.
In the B2B world, the presence of anticipatory purchasing experiences gives brands a significant competitive edge. For example, companies can leverage existing customer data and purchase history to automatically adjust a buyer’s credit according to the timing of a big purchase or peak buying seasons. Using automated solutions, customers then can move from credit application to approved purchase in less than a minute. But anticipating customers’ next steps involves complex technology and data analysis — again, something many SMBs may lack the finances or workforce to undertake.
The next steps:
- Look to small-scale, artificial intelligence software solutions for niche needs like automated credit adjustments, with feasible options for even the smallest B2B sellers. When buyers no longer have to request credit themselves, sellers are able to boost buyer purchasing power, meet buyer needs and establish brand loyalty for future purchases.
Find What Works for Your B2B Business
B2B companies are unique, and different omni-channel approaches may require a heavier emphasis on design or customer service — or a combination. While brand loyalty remains the aim of an optimized omni-channel experience, a poor buyer experience will derail that goal — especially given that 71% of B2B buyer decisions are based on customer experience. But by researching and implementing the optimal methods for your business, companies can improve the buyer journey and deliver a B2B customer experience that improves loyalty in today’s competitive marketplace.