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Sachin Datta
4 Minute read

4 Ways to Optimize Customer Experience on B2B Websites

Typical B2B companies simply sell their products or services to other companies. This can come in many forms: software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions, security solutions, tools, accessories, office supplies.

Many organizations fall under both the B2B and B2C umbrellas. Business-to-business (B2B) sites have much in common with business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sites - they need to establish a clear information architecture, include compelling content, offer details about products & services, and have simple and understandable interaction design.

In essence, nearly all of the standard user experience principles that have been discovered for B2C apply to B2B also. However, B2B audiences often have needs that are very different from those of B2C consumers. As a result, B2B purchases have longer decision-making phases, often significantly higher price tags, and less of a need to market, based on raw product desirability.

Some of major difference between B2B and B2C website are:

Purchase Time period: In B2B, decisions are typically long, non-impulsive and a complex process.

Decision Making Personas: In many cases, there are multiple type of personas in a B2B brand, when it comes to customer personas. It may differ from researchers, decision makers, facilitators, influencers and more. However, for B2C - there largely relate to a single person playing the role of different personas.

Content: This only needs to factor in all the above personas in a B2B website but also requires detail explanation. Many typical B2B purchases are not standalone products, but are purchased as part of a larger system that requires careful consideration of compatibility. While some B2C products (especially software or computer hardware) also have specific system requirements, compatibility is a more prevalent consideration for B2B, as customers need to ensure that new products, software, and services will fit into the existing systems and workflows. Not being able to find compatibility and integration details on a website is a major pain point for B2B customers.

Cart & Pricing Experience - Most B2C products have straightforward prices that stay the same from one customer to the next, (unless there are major sales occurring or promotion codes are offered). With B2B, things aren't always so simple. The product or service may be heavily customized for each customer's needs.

There can be significant quantity discounts, or customers may have relationships with account reps that allow them to negotiate favorable discounts. In case of cart in B2C, it is simple in most cases, but in a B2B scenarios - there are factors like pricings, quantity, delivery time, recurring orders and many more.

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So can we simply create a robust customer experience in case on a B2B website? We’ll simply try to answer this question by asking ‘How Can We…’

1. Provide a simplified cart experience

B2B organizations can sell products at different prices based on the customer type or customer group. While you are segmenting customers to personalize the shopping experience, you'll find very often the need to offer ‘special’ product pricing to your more demanding clients.

B2B shoppers usually buy products in bulk, and while your products can be listed as cases, packs or pallets, you might still want to offer additional discounts tiers based on the total quantity to be ordered.

A bulk order form adds to your website the ability to input SKU or part numbers and designate the quantity they’re looking for each product. The process should redirect your shopper straight to checkout, after adding all the items to the cart at once.

Ability to re-order - the system should maintain previous order history and should give the user the ability to re-order purchases

Purchase order management system- the ability for a user to create a simple order workflow system. A user can send create and send order for approval before placing the order

Flexible Payments Options- For B2B clients and B2C alike, getting paid for customer's orders is equally important. But in the b2b world, an existing relationship is in place with the client and not every business order can or should have payment processed online

2. Provide a personalized experience

Ability to track users and provide personalized content – system should be able to track users and provide personalized experience. A system should be able to track users through Search keyword, User path, History and current session path

Create a single view of the customer to effectively understand your customers and create a more robust targeting strategy

Recommendation engine - Create a recommendation engine that provides content based on personas and behavior of the users. Using machine learning helps in providing robust content recommendation

Create a personalized ecosystem for users by creating:

> Gated / post login area where a user can mark and refer to featured content

> Ability for user to refer only to gated content

> Ability to reach out to client (firm)

> Ability to download information

> Connect to mobile application

Ability to have close integration between website and mobile app

Ability to share, save or send content or information to / from mobile app

Ability to share information from website and mobile to any other mobile app users

Ability to system to push content towards users of specific user using mobile app

3. Provide a simplified customer experience

Segmentation with Customer Groups and Profiles - In B2C, customers are generally treated equally. But wholesalers deal in larger orders that vary from customer to customer. As a result, these organizations need strict group designations for segmenting clients

Provide Tax Exemption Status - As a B2B ecommerce site, more than likely you'll run into the need of setting up specific products, customers or even an entire customer group as tax-exempt or non-taxable.

Quick Orders - B2B ecommerce solution should allow your business customers to bulk order (sometimes called quick order) products by simply submitting a part number and quantity.

Onboarding customers for the best customer experience:

> You won the customer, they bought your products or services, and now they are returning to one of your digital properties. This is your chance to exceed their expectations and help them get the best possible experience with the products purchased.

> Personalize part of their customer experience with content relevant to the product they purchased—like guides to getting started correctly, maintenance schedules, and advanced feature tutorials. Doing this not only shows them you know them and helps them on their journey—it also helps them get the most out of your products so they can share their great experiences with peers.

> Onboarding customers based on product purchases has a time dependency. Based on what you are selling, you want to use the first weeks after purchase to highlight getting-started content, but as time passes, you would shift to different content based on typical customer needs at various stages of ownership.

4. Provide a better and easier search experience

Provide a Robust Search Feature

A user should have the ability to input parameters through

> Voice

> Visual (Text read through camera)

> Should support multi language support

Auto Suggest in the following

> Auto Suggest Text

> Related Thought Leadership

Search Result Page

> Facets

> Ability to handle different type of content

> Ability to sort information

> Content preference settings

> Segment & segregate content

> Pagination or Lazy Load

Performance of Search - his needs to be quicker (ideally not more that 1-2 seconds)

Sachin Datta
Sachin Datta Vice President-UX Practice


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