Building long-term relationships is just as relevant to business-to-business (B2B) merchants as it is to their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts. Customers will be more willing and excited to shop at your store if they feel valued and receive personalized care. By working to deepen customer relationships, B2B web store owners can increase sales and increase the lifetime value of shoppers.
A number of valuable tools are available to B2B web store owners to increase engagement with customers. Among them are the following four tips that will be discussed in this blog:
- Offer a Personalized Experience
- Streamline Checkout
- Establish Loyalty
- Provide Education and Thought Leadership
Offer a Personalized Experience
Creating a personalized experience that will keep customers coming back all starts with understanding their needs. By adjusting not only the content available, but also the look-and-feel of a website, you can make your shoppers feel more comfortable and excited to make purchases. The easier it is for shoppers to find the products they purchase on a regular basis, the more likely they will be to return to your store.
Individual logins for B2B shoppers makes it easy to personalize your online store, ensuring that it is in tune with each shopper’s needs. This allows for custom pricing, custom catalogs, and personalized templates that can be assigned to a particular customer login.
The following examples show the same product listing page, but from two different logins. There are a number of differences between the two logins, including access to additional categories, different color schemes, and different organization.
This customer can see products in a single list view, and has access to a quick order screen on the right to easily add items by item number. This is especially helpful to customers who frequently purchase the same items, and already know the item number and quantity needed.
This template has a reduced catalog and shows items in a grid view by default. This is helpful for customers who are more inclined to browse the catalog before making a purchase.
B2B customers expect an online store to provide an easy-to-use interface for making bulk purchases. Sometimes a B2B shopper will need to browse your product catalog to add items to the shopping cart. Typically, however, B2B customers will already know what they are going to buy before hitting the online store, so your store must provide a way to quickly place orders from a list.
The ability to copy orders saves time for B2B customers that frequently repeat orders. From the “My Account” section, a customer can copy an existing order, including, if they wish, the addresses.
Customers may choose to copy only the individual line items, or to copy both the items and address lines to the new shopping cart.
Another way to simplify checkout for B2B shoppers is to provide shoppers with the ability to upload their own excel lists with product codes and quantities. Using a Quick Order List, customers can key in item codes to add products to their cart or upload product lists from Excel. This saves time and reduces the need to click through the entire catalog searching for products.
Customers can search for items by key word, and add multiple quantities to the order at one go.
Quick Order Lists are as simple as item code and quantity, and can be added to an order in one click.
The Quick Order Entry screen shows all list items before continuing to checkout.
Open communication is a key component to establishing customer loyalty. By opening doors to communicating across various channels (like social media, online, or over the phone), you are providing your customers an invaluable opportunity to express their likes and dislikes of your store before heading to a competitor.
By actively engaging with customers, you can expect to see a higher retention rate, and a more organic increase in your customer base, since positive feedback can be easily shared across social channels via Facebook or other social media accounts. Closely monitor these social channels to offer thanks for positive feedback, and solutions to negative feedback.
Sharing to social media accounts opens lines of communication, and is just as relevant to B2B shoppers as B2C.
You can even publish your entire storefront to Facebook.
Provide Education and Thought Leadership
Continually provide value to your shoppers to keep them coming to your store. A well-stocked content library can highlight new and underused features of your products, giving potential customers a nudge to purchase these items and try them out for themselves.
Videos, webinars, workshops, blog content, and data sheets are just a few examples of content that can engage and retain your customers. Additionally, effective content adds value to your customers and serves as a key differentiator between your store and your competitors.
A store that offers safety information stands out from the competition by providing additional information of interest to customers.
For more information about increasing engagement with customers or establishing your B2B web store, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.