In B2B eCommerce, does content trump technology?
B2B is the new B2C, do you agree? Well, at least the lines that divided the buying experience are definitely blurring. Today’s savvy consumer wants the buying experience for B2B to mimic the B2C experience. As technology aids this rise of consumer expectations, we are seeing a new dawn in B2B transactions- one where consumer experience trumps price and product as a key brand differentiator.
When it comes to B2B eCommerce, content becomes the key facilitator of high-quality interactions. Imagine landing on a B2B eCommerce site and then finding poor quality & incomplete content, do you think it would generate confidence? With millennials constituting 46% of the B2B researchers and buyers, you have no choice but to curate elevated digital experience. Research suggests that today 49% of B2B buyers rely on content to guide their buying decisions!
The B2B buyer has spoken, and you know that your digital experience cannot fall short. To drive this, the technological components have to move with clockwork precision. You need to make sure your technology choices optimize performance, manage load balancing easily, and have the required security protocols in place. You have to enable seamless payment gateway integrations and also capably offer price personalizations from your B2B eCommerce website.
Your technology choices will also determine how easily you can scale your website -nothing today is permanent. Your technology choices will also determine how well you can design your website to make it attractive to your buyer.
However, while technology does seem to an important component in the success of B2B eCommerce, we believe that content trumps technology.
The Importance Of Product Information:
46% of B2B buyers will leave a company website if it is not immediately clear what the company does.
Imagine you go to a B2B eCommerce website to purchase a particular part. You have the specifications at hand, but you cannot find it there. Will you take the effort to call the company and find out which product matches the specs and then order it online? Or will you just research some more and go to a website which offers you complete product information?
Most buyers will not have the patience to search through a mountain of information. They will be even less inclined to call the company to get the product details. Why? Because they are on that eCommerce website for the convenience it offers; poor and incomplete product information just prefixes an ‘in’ to the ‘convenience’.
Clearly, product content fuels B2B eCommerce. If you have a complex and large product line, you have to work harder to create a content-centric product experience. Because, if your buyers cannot understand what options your product offers, and your content does not communicate the features and functionalities of the product and does not answer their questions, then you won’t have a buyer.
We know that B2B purchase decisions have much higher stakes as compared to B2C equivalents. The B2B buyers quite naturally want to back up their decision with information. Correct product specifications, proper product descriptions, relevant images, inventory levels, product variants, pricing etc. all play a critical role in influencing a buying decision. And how can you do this? It’s a one word answer – Content
Your content has to do a lot of hard work for the success of your eCommerce website…quite like your high-powered sales team, content makes the pitch and does all the convincing.
The Power Of Searchability
What good is great content if it is not searchable? Along with clear product overviews, you have to focus on making your product catalog searchable and thereby more accessible. How can you do this? Here are a few pointers:
- A complex product catalog does not have to drive a complex search process – technical specs, drawings, image to live inventory, comprehensive search and filter options, search tools etc ensure that you don’t have a frustrated customer
- Enable consistent product tagging – this enables personalization and also helps with ‘Advanced Search’ results
- Allow ‘Advanced navigation’ to allow visitors to filter products on any number of specifications be it price, color, band etc
Make the search intuitive to provide exceptional service. When you see relevant related products being offered without explicitly searching for them, you usually buy, don’t you? As a B2B company, you also must provide a great experience. A great place to start that is to make your eCommerce site like a sales consultant walking the buyer through a store to pick out everything you need. That’s exemplary service!
Curate A Complete Product Experience
Yes, we agree that B2B products are complex. They have complex specifications, complex variants, and complex use-cases. But do we need to present the product experience as complex too? Will that lead to sales?
We know the B2B sales funnel is getting deeper and slower & adding complexity to that does not help. You thus need to curate a complete and unified product experience leveraging the content at hand. While it might seem complicated, here’s how to simplify it.
- Centralizing all technical and marketing product information. Don’t just focus on the technical implementation of PIM, make sure that you strive for overall business process integration in this area
- Ensure your content answers the buyers’ questions
- Employ a simple and optimized catalog design
- Do regular content cleansing and normalization
- Focus on NPI, Syndication, and Maintenance
- Simplify and automate the way you share, onboard and syndicate product information to keep it current
Our take is that today eCommerce has matured and the technology challenge has been mitigated. We already know the technical nuances that need to be addressed to optimize the site experience.
So, let’s now work on the one thing that will drive sales for your B2B eCommerce website – Content. Once content and technology work together, you have a match made in B2B eCommerce heaven!