How to make your B2B ecommerce more attractive for buyers
Ecommerce has seen a lot of growth over the past few years, and it’s become ever more present in the lives of many consumers. Besides what some people may think, this growth doesn’t just include retail websites open to the public, but also online stores focused entirely on fulfilling the ecommerce needs of other businesses.
If you manage a B2B ecommerce site you might have found yourself wondering how to distinguish yourself from your competition. We think one of the best ways to achieve this is through a great customer experience.
Here at VTEX, we have been helping companies that find themselves in this situation. In this article, we will talk to Fernando Barros, B2B Product Leader at VTEX, and take a deeper look at the most important features a B2B ecommerce site should offer.
Navigating a different space
First, let’s take the elephant out of the room: B2B ecommerce is not necessarily more complex than B2C. Sometimes, the terminology used by its actors makes it sound that way, says Fernando Barros, B2B Product Leader at VTEX.
“The concept is still digital commerce, so we need to be more bold in pointing out that B2B is just a use case of it. We’re talking about a relationship between two companies instead of a company and a shopper, but the principle is similar.”Fernando Barros, B2B Product Leader at VTEX
The expert highlights that a customer looking for a good ecommerce experience and a company looking for one usually don’t focus on the same thing – and this is the problem. While an individual might look for a beautiful interface and a seamless checkout experience, buying companies often pay the most attention to three things: pricing strategy, shipment options and payment methods.
B2B ecommerce should always offer buyers the same experience as other buying channels. This includes respecting the agreed prices, payment terms and any other buying conditions.
“If my contract, as a buyer of ten years, includes a special price, I expect the ecommerce to address it automatically. If the agreed terms are different in the online store than in the contract, the customer may run away from ecommerce altogether ”Fernando Barros, B2B Product Leader at VTEX
Respecting these guarantees is the best way to build a long and trusting relationship with your buyers, which is an important element of the B2B landscape, and a great way to help your growth, since it can also help build loyalty and even assist in the upselling process. Remember: having a consistent experience across channels is the key for happy customers.
Shipment options and timeframes
Shipment options can be another complication for B2B operations, since some companies work with very stern reception times and conditions.
“Some companies might only receive products after the 25th day of the month, while others might have very strict delivery hours. These conditions are information that needs to be shown to both sellers and buyers during the right step of the online buying process.”Fernando Barros, B2B Product Leader at VTEX
These rules should be fairly easy to set up during the set-up period of the online store. It also should take into consideration any other conditions for a successful shipping: the need for refrigerated vehicles, or the selection of shipping points when dealing with several warehouses or manufacturing sites.
While most B2C ecommerce relies on credit/debit cards and cash payments upon reception, B2B ecommerce has to respect the same rules that its offline counterpart offers.
“If a customer is used to a 30-day credit, for example, this condition has to be automatically matched in its ecommerce experience. Otherwise, you’ll force the buyer to go back to an offline process where they know conditions are guaranteed”.Fernando Barros, B2B Product Leader at VTEX
The rules for payment methods need to include an easy way to mark orders as paid, even if they are done through direct banking or even cash. Also: customers should be able to easily obtain any receipts or vouchers required for fiscal or internal purposes.
Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s
Barros also mentioned the fact that, while a B2C operation usually focuses on the speed of the buying process, a B2B operation can sacrifice some of that speed. The most important is to guarantee that none of the orders will have any issues. To be right is better than to be fast, he says.
Once a company manages to have consistency across its channels, it will have an easily accessible 24/7 digital sales channel, with better customer experience and more revenue. For your clients it will be like having an online negotiation table, which will improve your company’s perception and trust. After you’ve achieved this, the sky’s the limit.
If you’re unsure of the next steps to make your B2B ecommerce more attractive for buyers, contact a VTEX expert now and watch your business grow.