BlueBolt Named a Certified BigCommerce Agency Partner

David Risner

V eteran digital agency partners with BigCommerce to deliver exceptional ecommerce experiences.

Chicago (Nov. 14, 2022) – BlueBolt, Inc. announced today it was named a BigCommerce Agency Partner. An award-winning, full service digital agency, BlueBolt further solidifies its ecommerce expertise with this key partnership.

BlueBolt’s affiliation with BigCommerce, a leading Open SaaS ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established B2C and B2B brands, cements another outstanding platform/implementation partner option for brands to choose from when seeking composable, customizable ecommerce solutions.

“BigCommerce is a powerful ecommerce platform, featuring robust tools clients can utilize to maximize their revenue,” shared David Risner, CEO and Co-Founder of BlueBolt. “Our team looks forward to witnessing collective growth, especially in Business to Business (B2B) ecommerce, Direct to Consumer (D2C) and Omnichannel marketing.”

“We value the trust and confidence the BlueBolt team has in delivering high value commerce solutions to clients through the BigCommerce platform,” said Marc Ostryniec, Chief Sales Officer at BigCommerce. “Growth in our business is predicated on collaborating with great partners who have the technical expertise and strategic innovation to deliver on the promise of next generation B2B, B2C, and channel sales.  BlueBolt has that talent and expertise, and we are proud to officially bring them on as a partner.”

BigCommerce Agency Partners are carefully selected to offer best-in-class technical value, astute user experience, and superior customer service. Today, tens of thousands of BigCommerce merchants look to the platform’s world-class agency partner ecosystem for support in creating differentiated shopping experiences to fuel their growth.

With both B2B and B2C shoppers becoming an increasingly younger demographic and driving ecommerce growth opportunities, it’s important to be able to offer clients a variety of ways they can reach their audiences with relevant product offerings, at scale. A veteran in the ecommerce software implementation space, BlueBolt partners with the best-of-breed ecommerce software vendors to create masterful online customer shopping experiences that aims to deliver return on investment for clients.

“It was important to BlueBolt to create a partnership with BigCommerce to continue to offer clients best-in-class ecommerce expertise. BlueBolt is proud to be working with the BigCommerce team,” said Risner. “It’s been great to watch BigCommerce evolve into a powerhouse in the ecommerce space – and to equally watch merchants succeed on their platform. We couldn’t be more proud about our new partnership with BigCommerce.”

About BlueBolt

BlueBolt is an award-winning, full-service digital agency.  The BlueBolt team is diverse, exceptionally talented, and offers unparalleled consulting on technology projects.  BlueBolt’s members are distributed across the USA, yet able to serve digital marketing and ecommerce solutions worldwide. For more information on BlueBolt, please visit blueboltsolutions.com or send email to:  hello@blueboltsolutions.com.

About BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a leading open software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecommerce platform that empowers merchants of all sizes to build, innovate and grow their businesses online. BigCommerce provides merchants with sophisticated enterprise-grade functionality, customization and performance with simplicity and ease-of-use. Tens of thousands of B2C and B2B companies across 150 countries and numerous industries use BigCommerce to create beautiful, engaging online stores, including Ben & Jerry’s, Molton Brown, S.C. Johnson, Skullcandy, Solo Stove and Vodafone. Headquartered in Austin, BigCommerce has offices in London, Kyiv, San Francisco, and Sydney.

BigCommerce® is a registered trademark of BigCommerce Pty. Ltd. Third-party trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

Important Considerations for B2B ECommerce Websites

Jason Lichon

B lueBolt 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.

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 Buyer 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 ECommerce

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

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.

PCI Compliant 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.

Why Businesses Should Consider Selling Direct-to-Consumer

Rob Strube

A ccording to McKinsey & Company, eCommerce penetration experienced ten years’ growth during the pandemic, replacing unavailable physical channels during the height of the pandemic.

Updated from a previous blog in 2020…

From everything businesses learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that success has favored those who were and are proactive in rethinking their business strategies, especially those who have embraced digital change. And while the move towards a more digital world transcends industries and sectors, it’s been especially accelerated within eCommerce. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, eCommerce penetration experienced ten years’ growth during the pandemic, replacing unavailable physical channels during the height of the pandemic.

With such change happening so quickly, there’s no wonder why organizations are eager to adjust their digital strategies – and fast.

Customers Are Up for Grabs

eCommerce was already an indispensable tool for so many pre-pandemic, growing rapidly over the years thanks to advances in technology, the ongoing digitalization of everyday life and changing customer preferences. But no one anticipated the remarkable growth in online selling that would be generated by the health crisis.

What’s even more impressive is that people who had used online channels for less than 25% of their purchases prior to the pandemic increased their online purchases by nearly 3.5X. Additionally, 75% of US consumers have tried different stores, websites, or brands during the COVID-19 crisis and 60% of those same consumers expect to integrate the new brands and stores in their post-COVID-19 lives.

That means, not only is there now the opportunity to reach the engaged and digitally savvy shoppers who have increased their online spending, but there is also a completely new group of potential buyers out there. The problem is how do you best capture the opportunity to engage with them?

Opportunity is Knocking with D2C Sales Channels

eCommerce is complex and constantly changing, making the competition for customers’ attention extremely difficult. In order to keep up, organizations need to make sure they’re optimizing every touchpoint along the buyer’s journey. For some organizations, this means adjusting channels and selling directly to their customers, or D2C.

Some of the most innovative and successful brands from the last decade have been borne from the shift to D2C. Warby ParkerGlossierCasper all have carved out competitive places for themselves within their respective markets by going direct.

But it’s not only these “new” brands getting their slice of the D2C pie; Nike recently announced their plans to shift away from partner channels (including Amazon) to focus more on D2C, citing the profitability and brand ownership that comes with such a move.

While strategies like Nike’s may seem dramatic, it’s clear that in order to be successful, organizations need to be comfortable with disruption. There is the opportunity now more than ever to reach new segments of buyers and to take more ownership of the customer journey. While D2C may seem like a big endeavor, it’ll ultimately add value for your customers, and the more value you add, the more you’ll remain relevant and necessary to them.

Is D2C Right for Me?

Stepping into a new channel strategy is no easy task. It requires careful consideration of your business processes and systems, your potential customers, and the way people interact with your brand. But with the skyrocketing influence of eCommerce, there are some significant benefits to selling direct; here are just a few:

  • Own the customer experience: gain more control over the branding and messaging your customers see, nurture customer relationships directly
  • Use customer insights for innovation: gather and use customer data to improve products, develop new ones, and create more immersive and personalized customer experiences
  • Drive sales and loyalty: add new revenue streams, find new customer segments, and build loyalty with their current customers

It’s Not All or Nothing

By implementing a D2C strategy, online merchants can build a better understanding of their customers, keep their operational costs low, and take advantage of new revenue streams. However, it’s important to note that D2C doesn’t have to be your exclusive strategy.

If you take a look at the D2C players mentioned earlier, Warby Parker, Glossier, and Casper have all participated in physical retail as well as vendor partnerships. And of course, Nike still has diverse channels in which they use to reach customers. HarperCollins, the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world and a BlueBolt customer, sells their products through various channels, but use their online store to reach customers directly.

Many times, organizations focus on making the shift to digital rather than the reasoning behind it. Instead of emphasizing digital transformation, organizations looking to implement D2C need to understand that digital transformation is situational – sometimes digital fits into our lives, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s the responsibility of merchants to take a holistic approach and understand how, when, and why their customers buy from them and then provide the appropriate paths to purchase, whether that’s digital, physical, or a combination of both.

The New Normal

D2C undoubtedly had a huge influence on some of the more profitable brands coming out of 2020. It enabled brands to move more nimbly to stay in touch with their customers directly and meet buyers where and how they needed them most.

Now in a post-pandemic world, it’s imperative that organizations focus on ways to improve or reimagine how they meet the needs of their customers now and into the future. Creating a D2C channel requires careful planning and consideration, a strong understanding of customers’ buying needs and expectations, and actionable data and insights. But the benefits can bring endless possibilities for growth.

In the battle for market share, only organizations that continue to be agile, resilient and responsive to change will come out on top. So, whether it’s exploring a new selling channel or rethinking your customers’ buying journey, just remember, the secret to getting ahead is getting started. What are you waiting for?

Interested in learning more about selling D2C? Make sure to check out our white paper “Direct to Consumer: Everything B2B Companies need to know to sell D2C,” or feel free to contact us to speak with an expert today!

Website Testing & Experimentation: Leverage Data with Optimizely

Chris Risner

F or too long, marketing and business executives have been left in the dark as to what their customers really wanted. Yes, some datasets were available based on results from a promotion, but those results often took weeks, if not months, to receive – and were usually only able to be calculated after a campaign was complete.

Good news. Times have changed. The challenge now is to harness the data that is coming at us at the speed of light. Thankfully, software platforms like Optimizely Intelligence Cloud offer a data-driven model of testing and experimentation that creates usable, actionable reports. This also enables your team to prove the ROI of marketing actions, optimize strategies to improve performance and make intelligent, customer focused marketing decisions.

In practical terms, testing and experimentation with Optimizely Intelligence Cloud empowers you to:

  • Prove the effectiveness of marketing campaigns
  • Shutter ineffective strategies and expensive mistakes
  • Innovate and test new design ideas
  • Improve campaigns and pages
  • Assess new marketing plans
  • Generate informed business decisions

Marketing experimentation is the fastest path towards true digital innovation and, more importantly, standing head and shoulders above your competition.

Getting Started with Optimizely Intelligence Cloud

To enable your marketing team to chalk up some quick wins with Optimizely testing and experimentation, their team has put together directions on ten common Optimizely Intelligence Cloud experiments including:

Geographical Differences

Do you want to know what matters to your customers in different parts of the United States? How about the entire world? This is a great experiment to see what content and imagery appeals to consumers in various locations. It’s even more powerful for commerce companies looking to see buying patterns in various geographic areas, as this can drive promotions or entire lines of new business.

CTA’s for New Visitors vs. Subscribers

Delivering clear and compelling content for each of your user personas is critically important, so the team at Optimizely created an experiment that centers around testing content for new users versus subscribers. After all, would you want a loyal customer to be greeted with a “let’s get started” form?

Remove Distractions from the Checkout Funnel

Have you been challenged to improve online sales? One culprit that hinders most sales funnels is distraction. This test enables you to look at a variety of steps where your customers may be getting hung up. Could it be convoluted navigation? Could it be too many steps in your checkout process? There are so many ‘virtual squirrels’ that compete for your customer’s attention. Minimizing the interruptions they face will facilitate them across your goal line.

Optimize Your Pricing Pages

How a pricing or subscription page is arranged can truly deliver the goods for your team. The question is, what styling changes will deliver the magic combination? Prior to testing and experimentation, this was largely anyone’s best guess based on sales results. Fortunately, testing and experimentation takes the guesswork out of the picture leading to higher conversions and increased sales.

Highlight Key Value Propositions

Do you offer multiple purchase choices customers can make, or new offerings you would like to highlight? Would adding a phrase like “most popular” sway your customers to make a choice they may not have made otherwise? The good news is you can test all these variables and get clear answers with multi-variate testing.

Symmetric Messaging

One of the truest marketing sayings is “the devil is in the details.” Many a marketing team has had battles over the tiniest differences in messaging and/or which images should accompany the text. The great thing is that with Optimizely’s ability to test multiple phrasing and pictures through A/B/n testing, teams will now know who gets bragging rights.

Personalize Based On Cookies

One of the easier ways to deliver personalized content is to leverage the cookies your users download from your website. However, this can also get a bit over the top creepy. Finding the balance between what is a good use of cookie-based personalization is what testing can help you identify. You may have users who love a highly personalized website or you may have a customer who will jump ship. The only way to know is to hypothesize and evaluate based on actual trials.

Test Promotion Formats

Do you have a promotion that has gone over exceptionally well with your customer base? What would happen if you expanded that promotion from your website into an email or vice versa? When does the promotion reach its limit and run its course with your customer base? All these questions – and more – can be answered with Optimizely.

Optimize a Form

With website forms being a key component of demand gen pipeline, it’s very important for marketers to use them in the most effective way possible. For example, one company in the UK experimented with a long form that asked clients 1-2 questions per page over four pages. They found a 70% increase in their customer base completing the entire form versus having 5-8 questions in a one-page form. As one can imagine, a 70% uptick in form completion can do a lot for pipeline. In their case, it led to a whole new product line offering.

Adding Social Proof

Adding social proof is a theory that examines the impact of whether adding a testimony will influence a customer’s decision to commit. With Optimizely’s multi-variate testing, it’s possible to also add sophistication with cookie-based personalization to test whether a testimonial from the consumers’ geographic area would be more trusted and influence their buying decision.

The good news about these 10 different experiments is that they are truly the tip of the iceberg with Optimizely Intelligence Cloud. The biggest challenge with this powerful platform is to be disciplined and stick to a strategic testing roadmap. Otherwise you may find yourself with a lot of disjointed data making it difficult to build actionable and measurable campaigns. An experienced partner like BlueBolt ensures the platform is implemented properly and enables your team to test often and fail, maximizing your investment for FY22 and beyond.

Show Me the Money: How Digital ECommerce Increases ROI for B2B Companies

Jason Lichon

D uring the past 18 months, B2B companies that were hesitant to dive into ecommerce suddenly found themselves in a world where traditional sales methods were upended overnight. Meanwhile competitors, who were already on the leading edge of implementing ecommerce, doubled down on their investments as they saw their work hit the jackpot.

Regardless of where a company is today, the internal conversation always comes back to trying to decide whether digital commerce will provide a return on investment. To set the stage for this article, consider these stats:

  • 60% of B2B leaders surveyed believe their company does not generate enough data.
  • Only 32% agreed that they know how to use their data in a meaningful and actionable way.
  • When asked whether their company can track and calculate digital ROI effectively, only 27.7% said yes.

For business leaders unable to prove ROI, it becomes very challenging to make the case to implement a digital commerce project because the focus is on the cost of implementation, instead of the opportunities ecommerce holds. Fortunately, there are a myriad of persuasive arguments which will directly affect return on investment.

Uncovering ECommerce ROI Opportunities

The Power of Engaging Customers Digitally

Offering customers an online store where they can order your products isn’t exclusively about the customers themselves (even though we would like our customers to think otherwise). Having an online store gives brands a new channel where they can offer both loyal and new followers access to new and existing products, recommendations, promotions, real-time inventory, and additional shipping capabilities. In addition, it provides a platform where it’s far easier to experiment with new offerings before rolling them out company wide. Digital commerce also offers the ability to capture real time data on how customers interact with each one of these items, enabling business leaders to make data driven decisions, taking the guesswork out of how best to reach segments of your customer base.

Retain Existing Customers

In a world where customers are increasingly fickle and demanding, the old marketing adage “It’s cheaper to keep current customers than it is to attract new ones” has never been more relevant than it is today. Customers want to engage with the brands they love in a convenient and friction free manner. As much as some of us may miss it, gone are the days of calling Bob to place orders. Consumers expect to be able to access product information and perform research 24/7. Customers also expect convenience and flexibility when it comes to paying. Supporting multiple payment methods beyond standard credit cards (e.g. PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.) can reduce the possibility of customers halting a potential purchase at the very end of the process. End users also want to be able to order supplies in the field, check inventory and arrange pick up or delivery. While it sounds demanding and difficult to implement digitally, these needs are now table stakes to retain customers. Sadly, if their preferred vendor doesn’t offer this, customers are highly likely to find a new supplier who will.

Attract New Customers

Almost all the same considerations apply when attempting to attract new customers. Like your existing customers, new potential customers expect convenience, friction-free access to information, flexibility in payment methods, as well as robust shipping options. Digital commerce also provides an excellent tie in with social media and promotions targeting new customers. These provide new vectors to have people visit your site and browse your products. In order to successfully execute, it’s imperative for every stakeholder in the buying process to be able to do their role digitally with your business. For example, CSRs will still play an important role, but they might now be responding to questions via online chat features on your site in addition to traditional support over the phone.

Increase Wallet Share

Since the dawn of time, every business owner and marketer has been trying to conceive ways to capture more of their customer market. Share of wallet is a reflection of how important your products are to your buyers. The higher the share of wallet, the more customers are dependent on your product to perform their jobs. Driving higher share of wallet is one of the most impactful growth opportunities for manufacturers. In addition to helping drive revenue and decreasing the average cost of goods created, higher share of wallet is the key to unlocking the retention brands dream about. With share of wallet being key to business prosperity, B2B and D2C (direct to consumer) ecommerce is imperative for companies who want to be able to compete for market share among today’s digitally savvy customers. As much as everyone is sick and tired of hearing about the Amazon Effect, it truly has changed the rules of customer engagement.

Offer a Direct to Consumer (D2C) Channel

The past 18 months have seen the vast acceleration of manufacturers offering their own Direct to Consumer channels. As of Q3 2021, selling Direct to Consumer is the most popular topic in B2B marketing. Brand manufacturers who have set up a D2C channel have seen explosive, double digit revenue growth in the past year. While selling D2C does have business considerations to consider such as how fulfillment and shipping will differ, the ROI in adding a new stream of revenue has been revolutionary for companies, especially for those hit with hard economic times during the pandemic.

Provide B2B and Distributor Channels

Each of your customer types, or personas, desire to have a message tailored to them. The great news is that B2B software platforms like Optimizely and Shopify Plus make it relatively easy for clients to set up different channels, or branded microsites, for each type of customer. With these capabilities, it makes it more streamlined than ever to serve your longstanding and loyal distributors, while being able to directly onboard new businesses as well. Providing customers everything they need and more to do their job efficiently and effectively will grow your customer pipeline and earn increased share of wallet.

Grow Revenue Per Product

For years, manufacturers have fought to get their distributors to merchandise and market their products in the absolute best way in the absolute best locations. Unlike any other time in history, marketers are now in the driver’s seat themselves thanks to B2B ecommerce. Armed with websites and customer portals, savvy marketers are now able to reach their customers 24/7 to have their products in front of their customers at the moment of their decision. Superior digital merchandising, smart product recommendations and refined customer catalogs are driving increased revenue per product, while also increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

Increase Customer Self-Service Activities

For years, manufacturers have been hesitant to enable customer self-service activities. Partly, this was due to not wanting to put people out of a job. However, as digital change has taken over the industry, roles have evolved. Now that customers are largely enabled to self-serve 24/7/365 through their customer portal, CSRs have matured from order takers to product experts. The immense value CSRs are now able to provide customers when they need help or product recommendations is unparalleled. With consumers being able to do all their research and purchasing activities in the portal and message their CSRs with questions, it provides a fast, feature rich, friction free and dependable purchasing process. Additionally, internal streamlining of CSR duties can enable companies to reduce their personnel expense and decrease overhead.

Decrease Cost Per Customer Acquisition

Calculating cost per customer or cost per acquisition could be an entire white paper in and of itself. However, the one consistent theme to all of the steps to calculate this cost is knowing your data. It’s critical to know where your customers are coming from, why they’re coming to your website, which products they’re interested in, how long it takes them to complete an order and what obstacles they run into. Analyzing all this data empowers your team to make adjustments, which in turn will decrease the cost per customer over time.

Expand Product Gross Margin

When calculating the ROI of an ecommerce solution, one of the most often overlooked sources of ROI is in the higher product gross margins that come from increased sales. Savings opportunities include buying materials used to make items at a reduced cost, calculating marketing costs across more merchandise and spreading overhead out across larger commodity quantities. When these savings are taken into consideration, it’s clear how quickly boosting your product gross margins can have a vast impact on your profitability, making a great case for ecommerce.

The Ultimate Result? Boosting the Company’s Market Capitalization

For readers who may not understand market capitalization – It is the total value of all of a company’s shares of stock and is calculated by multiplying the number of stock shares outstanding by the current share price. For example, if a company has issued 1 million shares and its share price is $50, its market cap is $50 million. Shares outstanding includes all shares — those available to the public and restricted shares available to and held by specific groups. Market cap allows investors to size up a company based on how valuable the public perceives it to be. The higher the value, the “bigger” and “less risky” the company. For C-Level executives, increasing market capitalization is incredibly rewarding. Not only does it signify the company has been doing a great job, but it provides the opportunity to attract investors to help obtain cash for further growth initiatives.

In summary, there are a multitude of ways in which implementing a better ecommerce infrastructure can provide ROI for your company. BlueBolt helps manufacturers and distributors alike modernize their ecommerce offerings with platform recommendations and implementation, connecting legacy systems and integrating third party applications to create a sleek and efficient framework. The result is a user-friendly interface for customers which enables them to self-serve 24/7, while streamlining internal processes. The impact is a return on investment in many areas across the business which any discerning business leader will be excited to realize.

Optimizing the B2B Digital Experience: Meeting Your Customers through Live Chat

Jason Lichon

O nce overlooked in B2B digital strategies, optimized customer experiences are a must have for companies looking to convert and engage with customers in today’s world.

With current COVID-19 restrictions on meeting in person, it’s even more important now than ever for B2B organizations to examine how they interact and engage with customers. Innovation in this time of crisis and beyond will enable you to provide more meaningful and personalized touchpoints in the buyer’s journey and help your business grow.

But don’t just take my word for it.

In their recent B2B Digital Experience Report, Optimizely gathered insights from 600 global B2B decision makers about digital experience tactics and technology. They inquired about everything from budgets, to Amazon, to AI. The most encompassing takeaway from the report is that in order to win in today’s digital economy, B2B businesses must focus on the customer by understanding who they are and what they need, and then provide the appropriate, personalized solutions to address those needs.

Though focusing on the customer may seem obvious, the customer journey can be complex, especially for B2B organizations. There are many moving parts to consider, and while making decisions can seem overwhelming, the biggest opportunity for businesses is to invest in products and services that better serve the customer throughout the buying lifecycle and beyond. It’s not a one-size-fits all type of process and instead should involve looking at problems from many different angles and finding the right solutions that truly deliver better customer experiences.

According to Optimizely’s report, the majority of B2B organizations (54%) define their customer relationships as strained, developing or non-existent. Clearly there’s a huge opportunity to improve in this area. B2B organizations should specifically look to connect with their customers where and when it makes most sense. One simple and effective solution is live chat.

Live chat leads to personalized digital experiences

Data from the Optimizely report shows that 60% of B2B leaders say that the top way that they want to learn about a fellow B2B company is through their website. Thirty seven percent of these same leaders also say live chat is the website feature/functionality they are most likely to adapt in the next 12 months. Combine these two points, and you’ve got an interesting opportunity. If the majority of people prefer accessing information about a company through that company’s website, and that website has a live chat solution implemented, then live chat can be a viable tool to engage with website visitors and improve customer experiences.

B2B interactions often deal with quite a lot of complexity – customer-specific pricing, tight delivery schedules, endless numbers of SKU’s – and organizations need to be prepared to provide immediate and personal attention when their customers need it. Live chat is a powerful and convenient tool when it comes to assisting customers in real time.

Knowing that they are talking to a real person, not a bot, gives customers the confidence that their issues are being handled quickly and efficiently. Live chat also enables your reps to reach customers in unique and engaging ways, including video and file sharing – something that obviously cannot be supported through a typical phone call, email, or form submission. Beyond the front-end, user specific advantages, live chat is also an effective tool in gathering and recording data that can be used to improve customer experience across the whole of your organization, not just digitally. Finally, live chat can be personalized so that returning customers are addressed individually and previous interactions are recorded; after all, if the customer has interacted with you before, wouldn’t it make sense that you know who they are the next time you speak? This not only will save time but will also make your customers feel valued.

The big picture of personalization.

It’s more common now that most B2B companies have gone through at least some type of digital transformation. According to Optimizely’s report, most leaders say they have a digital foundation to work with, but many are looking for more to get the job done. This points to the need for organizations to take a holistic approach to enhancing customer experiences.

Of course, perfecting the digital experience is an ever-evolving process that encompasses more than just keeping up with competitors or the expectations of your customers; it’s about truly understanding your customers and using that data to deliver more personalized experiences to achieve digital success. One way to achieve this on the most basic of levels is through live chat, which when used correctly, can help support and manage better customer relationships, increase revenue, and improve customer loyalty. Live chat, combined with other customer experience tools, is the foundation from which organizations can ensure they are gathering the right data and providing the right solutions so customers remain central to the business.

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Note: The original version of this article was posted by Paul Demery on DigitalCommerce360.com.