How More B2B Retailers are Streamlining Their User Experiences
5 Min Read
There’s a mindset shift taking place within legacy B2B retailers. As younger generations move into leadership positions and expect faster, more intuitive interactions across channels, the B2B industry is being challenged to accommodate for this.
At the latest Adobe Symposium in New York, digital analyst and award-winning author Brian Solis summed this up perfectly, “We are now producing experiences for people who vomit rainbows” (referring to snapchat filters).
Millennials are now the buyers that B2B sellers must attract. This doesn’t mean you’ll need fancy AR capabilities right out of the gate. Nor should your customer service department be replaced entirely by social media. But millenials do expect to complete B2B purchases entirely online (at the very least) as opposed to over the phone or fax (they don’t like talking to people.) They want a fast and intuitive experience and they want it now! The performance of your site should reflect the performance of the buyer. Meaning, if a user is purchasing during work hours, when they presumably have a lot of tasks on their plate, they will opt for a B2B experience that’s streamlined and optimized for their behavior and needs. They’ll want to be educated about the right product or service for them on site and have the ability to place an order after a few short clicks and scrolls. The easier you make it for your target consumers to order, the more orders they’ll place and the less likely they are to purchase elsewhere.
B2C experiences are bleeding into B2B. A perfect example of this is Corra’s client Sigma Beauty wanting a visually cohesive experience between both of their B2C and B2B functions. Sigma reached out to Corra with clear objectives in mind: increase B2B efficiency and productivity, reduce load times to handle the peaks driven by email campaigns, and create an engaging experience targeted to their audience. Corra migrated Sigma to Magento 2.2 Commerce Cloud, leveraging Magento B2B modules and our CX designers. Their bounce rate decreased by 15% and page speed improved by three seconds.
A report released by Adobe suggests that B2C and B2B buyers actually behave similarly:
Today’s B2C and B2B purchase journeys share more similarities than differences. Both are data-driven, self-directed, and set a high bar for emotional and contextual engagement. To meet customers’ changing needs and expectations, B2B and B2C marketers need to learn from each other’s experiences — and adapt to a new set of strategies, tactics, and enabling technologies.
It’s true that many online B2B retailers are in need of some front-end TLC. Not only to streamline the customer journey, but also to perform a CX audit and inform the information hierarchy – which is especially important on B2B sites. Why is this the case? Because these products and services tend to be more complex than B2C. All of the information and education that would usually be communicated when placing an order on the phone, has to be strategically designed and written to live on site. When the site navigation and hierarchy of information is effective, it will save your company time, resources and revenue. You’ll eliminate the need to get on the phone or email back and forth to convert customers, they’ll do it all by themselves on your site.
Merchants can also educate their customers through a support function. With larger average order values and more details to consider, a portal with resources for B2B users to access can be hugely beneficial. Corra client True Value has a version of this; they built a portal for their 3rd party retailers. Lisa Fortuna, Director of Ecommerce, said they launched a Marketing Technology Suite as a self-service portal for their stores to use. They log into a web experience, and the stores can find all kinds of campaigns and promotions that align with their branding. They can customize within that portal using really easy drag-and-drop functionality. It’s been really successful, she said.
PERSONALIZATION IS IN HIGH DEMAND.
“Gartner predicts that by 2018, 70% of B2B ecommerce sites will offer personalized features to their customers and that these will outsell their competitors without the same level of personalization by 30%.”
With higher average order values inherent to B2B, comes increasing expectations to deliver a thoughtful and personalized experience. Moreover, B2B customers tend to have a longer standing relationship with their suppliers, which places an even greater demand on personalization. This may come in the form of a quick reorder option, allowing customers to place their usual order again or a wishlist feature that instantly adds everything on their list to cart. You can create different tracks based on your customer segments. For example, if you’re a B2B pharmaceutical retailer and your main customer profiles are athletes, practitioners and non-practitioners, you should ideally suggest different products based on who the customer is logged in as. You’d offer white label products for health practitioners that want to use their own branding or workout supplements to athletes, etc. This method uses customer data to personalize recommendations the same way a sales professional would over the phone, email or in-person (except it’s more instant, how millenials like it).
Embrace Headless/PWA technology.
Another way B2B merchants can win over the millennial consumer is by embracing PWA technology. PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) combine the discoverability and reach of the web with the experience and engagement of an app. Essentially the best of the mobile web with the best of mobile apps (optimal mobile user experience). According to Business Insider, 53% of worldwide shoppers prefer using a retailer’s mobile website rather than their app. PWAs solve this issue by merging the best of both experiences.
If your business is looking to expand into a younger demographic it’s crucial you focus on a mobile-first approach. Some of the quickest and most engaging commerce experiences on mobile right now are delivered via PWAs. Corra is investing in this technology to build our own proprietary PWA storefront called FWRD.
Corra is creating FWRD: a platform-agnostic PWA storefront that combines lighting-fast performance with a sophisticated front end crafted around the needs of lifestyle consumers. Being completely headless, its architecture allows retailers to seamlessly attach the app-like front end to any back-end system via APIs. To ensure even more agility, FWRD comes equipped with a proprietary library of UI components. This catalog was built using the latest front-end technologies, and offers dozens of features that can be smoothly implemented to convey your unique brand experience. Through FRWD, you can embrace the power of PWAs to increase your prominence among search rankings, improve site speed immensely, and convert mobile shoppers – even when they are browsing offline.
Corra’s implemented B2B experiences for Sigma Beauty, Atrium Innovations, Circa Lighting, Plume, Tacomy, and more. We’re excited to unveil our new B2B division Indstry, next quarter. If you’d like to request information or learn more about the commerce solutions Corra implements (think personalization, UX, visual design, PWAs, SEO, replatfomization and platform migrations) reach out to us today. We’re always looking for new brands to partner with and new opportunities that challenge us to create great work.