INSIGHTS

Important Considerations for B2B ECommerce Websites

Jason Lichon
August 11, 2022

B2B ecommerce is the true backbone of our world today. Every industry is touched by B2B manufacturers and distributors. In 2022, we’ve seen repeated supply chain issues, which is why B2B ecommerce is more important now than at any previous time in history. B2B companies will play a vital role in overcoming supply chain issues and restoring our economy.

According to Digital Commerce 360, in 2021, online sales on B2B ecommerce sites, login portals and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion. Statista data suggests that the North American B2B ecommerce market will surpass $4.6 billion by 2025. McKinsey & Company reports that about 65% of B2B companies across industries are fully transacting online in 2022. But the biggest news? For the first time, B2B companies are more likely to offer ecommerce over in person sales.

With B2B ecommerce on the rise to historical levels, it’s important to be mindful of how trends in ecommerce will effect the way consumers shop online and interact with their brands. BlueBolt has helped many B2B companies create full service websites, online portals and D2C channels. As we help our clients build their next gen websites, the following are important aspects we take into consideration to create great digital B2B ecommerce solutions:

Younger B2B Buyer Base

As the population ages, a new day is dawning in the B2B ecommerce landscape. As of 2020, close to half of B2B buyers are millennials — nearly double the amount from 2012. Additionally, 73% of the millennials are involved in the B2B buying process. This change has brought about changing expectations in the B2B buying process, including personalized experiences, mobile purchasing and expedited shipping.

Personalized B2B User Journeys

Because today’s B2B buyer conducts approximately 12 online searches before making a purchase from a specific brand, 55% of B2B marketing budgets are directed toward digital efforts that help provide a more personalized buying experience.

According to Digital Commerce 360, B2B buyers expect various digital efforts from vendors, including:

  • 45% want personalized portal content.
  • 44% are looking for an easy-to-use ROI calculator.
  • 38% seek AR options.
  • 33% want video chat options.

Research has found that 50% of B2B buyers identified improved personalization as a key feature when searching for online suppliers, with consumers spending 48% more with brands when their experience is personalized.

B2B ECommerce Customer Portals and D2C Channels

While the sales funnel was once very straightforward, now 90% of buyers enter, exit and reenter the funnel at various points. Consider a study by PIM leader inRiver which found 43% of respondents – rising to 48% in machinery manufacturing businesses – agreed that customers are often dissatisfied because they can’t self-service. This is very concerning for companies when paired with the brutal statistic that a staggering 90% of B2B buyers would turn to a competitor if a supplier’s digital channel couldn’t keep up with their needs. Given the fact that B2B ecommerce customer portals and D2C channels bring in new revenue streams, first hand customer data and the opportunity to drive customer loyalty, it’s imperative for B2B companies to ensure their customers are finding self-service success.

Subscriptions Aren’t Just for B2C

Proven to be wildly popular in B2C ecommerce models, forward thinking B2B marketers are finding ways to incorporate recurring revenue models for their businesses. Not only do subscriptions generate predictable recurring revenue and help foster ongoing customer relationships, they offer convenience and predictability that benefit both companies and their customers. Additionally, B2B subscriptions benefit customers by simplifying the complex buying process into one contract that pays dividends repeatedly.

There are several different types of subscription services and products that lend themselves to B2B businesses models including:

  • Ecommerce subscriptions which allow for recurring purchases of business products, parts, materials and supplies.
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscriptions such as monthly or annual licensing models.
  • Premium access or service models begin with a free subscription that includes basic functionality, which customers can later upgrade to unlock premium paid features.
  • Usage-based subscription models leverage connectivity to track how much a customer uses a product or service and bills them accordingly on a recurring basis.
  • Product-based subscriptions charge monthly or annual fees in exchange for the use of products.
  • Service-based subscriptions offer product support on a recurring basis.

The Rise of B2B Marketplaces

B2B ecommerce sales through websites and online marketplaces are accelerating and growth is at an all-time high. A study done by Sana-Commerce predicts that 75% of B2B procurement spending is projected to happen via an online marketplace within the next five years. According to Gartner, the enterprise marketplace business model creates wider ecosystems, has new capabilities and allows brands to generate new sources of revenue. Marketplaces can be more efficient in time and cost, as they serve as a one-stop-shop for B2B buyers. One of the best advantages of B2B marketplaces is their ability to attract new, engaged audiences. Not only can this mean more sales, but it’s also an opportunity to reach global markets and test new products.

Mobile First B2B ECommerce

Recent B2B research data further indicates the strong influences of millennials in the B2B ecommerce industry. Consider this research by Google and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showing the importance of a seamless mobile experience for B2B customers:

  • 50% of B2B queries today are made on smartphones.
  • Mobile drives, or influences, an average of over 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations.
  • Approximately 15% of B2B retailers reported having an app for their customers.

Companies who are doing mobile first have a dedicated mobile design for each page of their website, ensuring users have the best experience possible no matter what device they use.

Advanced Smart Product Search

A top pain point for B2B buyers shopping online is finding products. For companies that want to attract B2B buyers it is essential to prioritize a user experience strategy that makes it easy for customers to quickly find what they are looking for, especially because many B2B shoppers already know exactly what they need. There are multiple strategies to create a frictionless B2B buying journey. One way is to offer a personalized customer catalog that features requested products, quick reorder capabilities, preferred payment methods and dynamic shipping options. Another option is ensuring your website has easy navigation with quick reorder options for your repeat buyers. Lastly, offering federated site search from a company like BravoSquared will let your customers browse content and products from all your websites, while also offering smart product recommendations to enhance the purchasing experience and increase the average order value.

Mobile First B2B ECommerce

Recent B2B research data further indicates the strong influences of millennials in the B2B ecommerce industry. Consider this research by Google and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showing the importance of a seamless mobile experience for B2B customers:

  • 50% of B2B queries today are made on smartphones.
  • Mobile drives, or influences, an average of over 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations.
  • Approximately 15% of B2B retailers reported having an app for their customers.

Companies who are doing mobile first have a dedicated mobile design for each page of their website, ensuring users have the best experience possible no matter what device they use.

PCI Compliant Procurement and Checkout Process

Like most everything in B2B ecommerce, the procurement and checkout process is evolving. While it’s important to offer relevant payment terms for your customers, it is equally essential that the payment process is also PCI compliant. Research from our colleagues at Big Commerce shows payment terms in B2B ecommerce are slowly, but surely, modernizing. Credit cards still reign supreme for the online channel (94%), though checks, terms, and purchase orders remain vital for B2B buyers (51%, 53%, 50%, respectively). Also on the rise are mobile wallets like Amazon Pay and Apple Pay (26%). Fortunately, robust B2B software partners like BigCommerce, Shopify and Optimizely offer all these payment capabilities and more.

Conversion Rate Optimization and Experimentation

As complex as B2B ecommerce can be, conversion rate optimization CRO) can be improved by looking at five main items. The earliest and sometimes overlooked step in CRO is click-through rate optimization. Increasing the traffic to your site from Google search results can help grow your potential pipeline, create demand generation and increase overall total leads. The next step in conversion rate optimization is to know your audience. This is especially important when it comes to B2B businesses with potential customers from a variety of roles exploring your site, seeking products and content – and ultimately making critical decisions. The key to CRO is to gather data from a variety of sources so that you can make data driven decisions. Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and heat mapping tools, like Hotjar and Crazy Egg, can provide valuable insights to your customers and how they interact with your website. Last but not least, payment options and website UX remain the two of the most important factors for conversion on a B2B site. It is important to have software like Optimizely Intelligence Cloud that will help you test and retest your website offerings, enabling B2B companies to optimize their website and drive maximum conversions.

In summary, B2B ecommerce continues to have complex needs in 2022. The good news is that BlueBolt partners with the best B2B software companies in the industry, including BigCommerce, Optimizely and Shopify Plus. Our partners are continually innovating new ways to help streamline B2B complexities to make it easier on your team and customers alike. BlueBolt is an award-winning, full service agency that has helped many B2B brands expand their online offerings, while also streamlining internal processes.

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