Does one dimension of B2B eCommerce answer are compatible all?
Business customers come in different shapes and sizes
Like most suppliers to businesses your customers are probably loosely categorised into small, medium and large companies.
But have you fully considered how the ecommerce requirements within these different customer groups are being handled on your B2B webstore and are you using the knowledge of these differences to gain the maximum advantage?
Because B2B ecommerce is different…
Unlike retail consumers – business customers are by their nature far more complex to define and will often be quite different to one another in what they expect from your B2B ecommerce website and how they need to conduct business with you.
Some may be simple end users of your product, whilst others may be purchasing for others, maybe even buying to re-sell your products on; or even using your company to support a drop ship operation.
So is it sensible to expect all of the various different B2B customers on your website to be happy with the same “one size fits all” B2B eCommerce experience?
We consider this with just a few typical examples below which lead us to the conclusion the answer to our “one size fits all” question is almost certainly “no”
- Business customers come in a variety of different shapes and sizes ranging from the complex to the straightforward. On-boarding a major nationwide or international customer onto your B2b webstore for example should be something which is perfectly optimised. Giving careful consideration for example to the enablement of personalised content, requisition workflows, product restrictions, approved buyers, management of company address books, contract pricing, priority delivery terms, personalised checkout preferences, communication of reserved stock levels; spend analysis reporting, key account manager messaging, etc… Certainly if all these types of things can be intelligently optimised then it can make a world of difference to the buyer experience but can also add major value perception and demonstrate highly appreciated efficiency to your customers’ management team. Equally if the needs of the business customer are far less demanding then it stands to reason the B2B webstore should be capable of being flexed to offer a “bare bones” B2C type experience; to again make that end customers experience as effective as required.
- Business customers may be purchasing the products on your site for use themselves; for use by others; or alternatively to resell on to others. Knowing this in advance can make a big difference. For example if you have customers that resell your products then you might wish in addition to selling them products to also want to promote value-add features which enable them to download their own product data feeds, high resolution product images, point of sale materials, etc… that help them manage their own websites and EPOS systems.
- Business customers (unlike retail customers) it should always be remembered are all doing a job and typically spending their company’s money (not their own). This all means they’re naturally conditioned to place a disproportionate value on the ecommerce stores ability to make their lives easier (even if the products you sell on the webstore are perhaps not always the lowest priced). For example if your webstore has features which help the individual buyers quickly place orders which are hundreds of lines long, generate routine or repeat orders in a click; or features that help them to print their own account statements, copy invoices, etc… ; check the status on their back order items or help them schedule multiple deliveries of complex orders without picking up the phone. Having the capability to switch on these types of value add features for individual customers can often be critical to creating a sticky appeal B2B webstore and keeping the B2B customer loyal.
Small and medium sized customers may want to pay their outstanding invoices online, whereas larger clients want interactive online expenditure analysis reports, purchase order integration using punchout and to pay by BACS. Every scenario is covered and controllable by you.