We can observe a significant growth in the online sales of everyday products. “By calculating the increase for all of 2020 at 70.5%, Statistics Canada spoke of a rapid metamorphosis imposed by the pandemic and physical distancing measures. But on a more relative basis, the share of electronic retail sales compared to total retail sales moved from 3.5% in 2019 to 5.9% in 2020.”¹ This trend is also present for B2B companies, which sell to companies. Indeed, there have been major digital transformations among manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers in recent years. Although the technological changes are often invisible to the end consumer, they offer great value to the companies that adopt them. These are usually major undertakings that bring their share of challenges.
The team from Novatize has supported several B2B companies in their eCommerce shift. Here are the main challenges to be addressed to ensure the success of this type of project.
1. The complex product structure
Most B2B companies have a large catalogue of products. These usually consist of various categories, technical specifications, numerous features, certifications, etc. A rigorous process of categorization and documentation is the starting point for designing the shopping experience. To do this, it is necessary to ensure full integration with the company’s ERP management software. This work helps improve the quality and consistency of the data related to the products on the sales channels, simplify integration and maintenance, and increase SEO (organic search) performance as well as the relevance of the search engine results on the website..
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2. The personalized price lists
Unlike a B2C eCommerce experience, the price structure is subject to specific logics. Indeed, the displayed price must vary according to the client, business agreements, purchase volume, etc. These pricing rules need to be synchronized with the organization’s various management systems (accounting system, CRM, ERP, etc.).
3. The specific client experience
The behaviour of the consumer is very different when they are buying for a business as part of their job. Their objectives are not the same as when they are shopping for their personal consumption. You therefore need to create a user experience specific to the decision-making process of your clients. They may have a substantial purchase volume, so it’s necessary to present appropriate categories to them to facilitate their orders. You also have to take the commercial agreements concluded into account by presenting the relevant product categories at the right time. To facilitate the experience, especially when the products in question are technically complex, it may be relevant to provide a product comparison tool, technical data sheets, or informative videos.
4. The search engine and eMerchandising
74%² of B2B buyers will use the search engine at least half the time in their buying journey. The relevance of the results is therefore a key factor in the transaction. In some cases, it is necessary to offer a smart search engine that is capable of taking the search behaviour of the clients into account and offering appropriate results.
There must also be a logic to the product recommendations, the presentation order, etc.
5. The billing process
The payment methods involved in a transaction between two businesses may be varied and complex. Each agreement with the clients must be taken into account in the billing process. Features such as “charge to account,” credit limits, or payments by credit card may be essentials in certain industries. This is also an opportunity to boost your productivity by automating certain billing tasks.
6. Bringing your clients on board
Your pool of potential clients is probably limited, and your current clients are certainly extremely valuable, so it’s essential for them to get on board with the new way of dealing with your company. This change must have benefits for both sides. You won’t get a second chance to make a good impression. The process must be fluid for your clients and make things easier for them. To increase your chances of success, it may be a good idea to involve your major clients in the design of your eCommerce site. Ask them questions, understand their needs and challenges; they will certainly be grateful to have been consulted. To make the change management process simpler for your clients, you can provide documentation or training during the transition.
Plan a marketing strategy for the launch that targets your current clients as well as your prospects.
In addition, make sure to listen to your clients following the launch. Collect their comments via a chat or form. This will allow you to continuously improve the experience while ensuring adoption and satisfaction.
B2B eCommerce isn’t just a tool to retain your existing clients. It’s also an opportunity to develop a new client base. Your eCommerce site will possibly allow you to stand out through innovation in your market.
Setting up a B2B eCommerce site can be a daunting project. Make sure you understand what it involves and be properly supported in your digital shift.
Do you want to keep the discussion going with Novatize? If you’re looking for an eCommerce partner that understands the challenges of a B2B company, contact us!