There is a lingering myth that only B2C (business to consumer) ventures are using e-commerce marketing and websites to grow.
In fact, Magento CEO Mark Lavelle recently announced that the company’s enterprise software – which is now also growing around a cloud platform – has been named as the leader in mid-market B2B (business to business) website options.
It makes a huge amount of sense that the business buying process is shifting to a similar arrangement to B2C. Making a business purchase has traditionally followed a drawn-out pattern of securing quotes, negotiating on price and timescale, raising paperwork and agreeing on a delivery schedule.
This could involve several phone calls and emails, or being passed around different departments of the same company – sales, manufacturing, and accounts, for example.
If your business can offer its clients a far leaner, quicker buying experience, it can provide an important competitive edge. It can even circumnavigate the need for as many sales, clocking up costs and time to make client visits.
There will always be business deals too complicated to transact digitally. However, increasingly, eCommerce provides B2B companies with the most cost-effective and direct sales route.
It is why so many B2B companies are steering away from bloated and unwieldy web platforms and opting for far more nimble systems that are indistinguishable from consumer eCommerce options.
So, what makes a good B2B website platform? How can you be sure that your enterprise software or cloud system sells your products or services to other businesses effectively? In a nutshell, what enables your business clients to work with you digitally, seamlessly and with the minimum hassle?
Designed to succeed
The temptation when creating modern B2B websites is to make them stand out as much as possible with the latest design techniques – naturally. However, how many sites have you visited that have been too slow to load, overly complex or achingly “arty”? You’ll have clicked away in a split second.
Keep in mind that your venture may be selling its products and services to other businesses, but it is still human beings who are the decision-makers. Your eCommerce marketing needs to show you to be the expert your business clients are looking for.
You need to show competence and warmth in your website design. Your ability to form a relationship with your buying audience needs to be on display from your landing page to the second they leave. This can mean finding an enterprise software solution that balances the way the site looks with how well it performs.
Cut the BS for B2B
For B2B websites, sometimes less is more. Think fewer sales patter and vanity content, and instead, more infographics, facts, and data to show clients how they would benefit from what you sell.
You need to display knowledge of your product and empathy with buyers. Flag up problems and suggest solutions. This can also mean answering “what’s in it for me” sharply. Leave the patter and flattery to your sales team.
A website weighed down by SEO words and phrases can be equally off-putting. If you are selling to other businesses, then being found on search engines is in some ways secondary to creating an efficient and effective eCommerce site. You need a clean, user-friendly customer interface that makes the sales process as easy as possible.
More reasons to buy
That’s not to say eCommerce marketing shouldn’t be a driving force behind planning your highly business-like website. Enterprise software makes B2B selling potentially more profitable, as it increases cross-selling opportunities.
It is not generally possible for your sales team to run through a wordy credentials presentation during every negotiation. If they start selling additional products, they may well find the shutters going down.
Enterprise software that intuitively flags up associated products or services provides added value in an instant and creates chances to secure increased sales in a heartbeat.
For example, your client could browse, possibly even add items to their basket, then click off before completing the order. An exit popup to encourage them to complete could then appear, with a message to contact the sales team to tailor their order more specifically. This could well convert the sale.
Quick navigation holds fickle attention
If you are selling to consumers, you may well hit gold and catch a potential buyer drinking a cold one or enjoying their coffee, with lots of time to browse. That isn’t so common in the fast-paced world of B2B. You need a website that gets clients where they need to be via the quickest possible route.
If your clients can navigate effortlessly to exactly what they want, they are far more likely to buy from you. Flowery sales jargon, bells, and whistles are more likely to be a turn-off.
Getting site visitors quickly to the most powerful tools in your sales kit often means ensuring they dive straight into clear and clean product galleries or catalogs.
The expression “a picture paints a thousand words” has never been truer in today’s image-led marketing environment. You need to get your product or service gallery up front and center to ensure website visitors don’t have to work too hard to find it. Give them multiple ways to refer back to it also, with plenty of links from other website pages.
To see how this works in action, check out our case study gallery and how many links there are to find it.
Just as with B2C eCommerce marketing, providing site visitors with the best possible buying experience matters. Plentiful pictures or videos can help achieve this.
It is one of the reasons we recommend Magento Web Design. It offers a crisp, clean and high-impact framework for B2B sites that show products and services to best effect.
Sales functionality for B2B sites
All eCommerce software and cloud selling solutions can brag a long list of functions and bolt-on features. This, again, can lead to the temptation to create unwieldy, high functioning B2B websites that actually turn off beleaguered executives.
To be effective, a B2B eCommerce website needs energy and attitude, but not over-complexity. People do business with other businesses not just on price, but also trust. Create a quick, reliable eCommerce website, and your clients get the impression of a responsive and trustworthy supplier.
Good to grow: versatility key for B2B
Any company that sells to other businesses online is not going to want to stand still. In fact, your enterprise software should be a springboard to grow your sales in a profitable way, which means you can reinvest into developing your business proposition.
How frustrating it will be if you find that when you do start adding product lines or exploring new markets, you have outgrown your eCommerce site too quickly.
You don’t need a psychic for this. Simply choose a software or cloud eCommerce platform – and a web designer – that can underpin your potential. Find enterprise software that provides all the functionality you need now, but which also offers room for growth and development.
Your business-focused eCommerce website has to be easy to alter, adjust and update, including making substantial changes to deal with opportunities and business obstacles. Your business is not rigid, so your eCommerce website shouldn’t be built that way either.
Easy to order
In the race to cut costs and use every working minute productively, your clients will want to order and re-order quickly and smoothly.
Search boxes are vital, and more or less standard on eCommerce sites. However, you need to pay attention to comprehensive and quick they are. Having an unreliable search system – or one that can only find exact matches or limited headings – can lower its value and be the cause of a UX issue.
Also, spend some time thinking about the user experience for your returning customers. If you need to purchase repeatedly through one website, often buying the same products, would you want to spend a ton of time trying to find them each time? Look for functionality that makes it as easy as possible to find and repeat recent orders.
Well orchestrated and integrated
What you also must look for when creating an eCommerce site for B2B is your enterprise software’s ability to work well alongside all forms of marketing.
Your social media scheduling should fit easily into website updates. The interplay between the two should be effortless and mutually supportive. It should not take considerable conscious effort and time to get your website, social media and email campaigns to seamlessly fit together.
Keep them, and bring them back for more
It all comes down to the fact that your business customers will be looking for the same things from your enterprise eCommerce site as they seek in consumer shopping. They want the convenience of buying online, dished up efficiently but in a way that feels personal.
Get in touch with us at Newbird for Magento website design and eCommerce marketing. Give your business the boost it needs through effective digital B2B selling.