B2B companies know the kind of Customer Experience they should be offering.
Buying experiences should be seamless and rich, with tailored product information, relevant pricing, and payment options, and the right combination of flexible and adaptable buying and selling touchpoints. These features are more important than ever for B2B buyers and sellers as retail giants like Amazon encroach into B2B territory.
Unfortunately, based on Elastic Path’s study of 300 B2B eCommerce decision makers
, it seems the reality of the B2B experience lags well behind the expectation. Nearly half (45 percent) of B2B businesses have lost customers as a result of their commerce experience. Eighty-two percent believe that they will likely lose customers if they don’t make improvements to the commerce experience within the next year.
Despite company leaders seeming to understand the urgency for CX innovation, few are making the right investments. In an attempt to meet the needs of digitally savvy customers, most B2B companies have to turn to B2C-focused commerce platforms. But these leave buyers unable to complete the fundamentally different and more complex steps required in a B2B sale.
Instead, B2B businesses must focus on digitising the B2B buying experience rather than attempting to mimic B2C commerce. The Customer Experience must be the driving force behind B2B commerce innovation.
Enabling the true B2B experience
Many brands have implemented technology to improve Digital Experience for customers, but few are offering the tools required to truly enable B2B buying online. With platforms designed for consumer sales, buyers are left without the ability to complete orders online in the same manner they have completed orders historically.
Nuances like contract-based pricing or project-based ordering – activities traditionally handled over the phone with a rep – have not been accounted for on digital channels, leaving buyers frustrated and confused. Most B2B commerce sites today are basic, B2C-like, digitised catalogues with the ability to personalise recommendations.
But B2B buyers are buying for their businesses, not their lifestyles – basic digitised catalogues and shopping carts aren’t enough. For these buyers, it’s all about enabling efficient buying and selling, and solving both long-and short-term problems.
For example, a buyer might need to create a new order for a quickly moving project. But in a traditional shopping cart set-up, that buyer would need to discard any orders started for long-term projects. It’s a frustrating and inefficient process.
The missing piece of the puzzle
What B2B brands really need are purpose-built systems with features designed specifically to ease the complexities of B2B buying and selling. These systems position B2B businesses to evolve right alongside buyer expectations. A purpose-built B2B commerce system should:
1. Elevate your sales team beyond administrative order-taking roles.
2. Support organisation-specific digital catalogues on a single platform to deliver buyer and organisation-specific product assortments.
3. Provide account-based experiences and provide division and role-specific pricing depending on contract agreements.
4. Offer streamlined reordering and guided selling experiences that ensure products and services ordered together are compatible with one another.
5. Support flexible pricing models through account-specific pricing, subscription billing, usage pricing, tiered billing, or negotiated and contract billing.
6. Deliver unified experiences across channels using API-first platforms to power both online and offline CX as buyers traverse channels.
With a purpose-built B2B commerce system, the pieces just fall into place. They support the enormous complexity of the industry whilst allowing you to offer the quality experience buyers expect.
Happy customers make for better results
More than half (53 percent) of respondents in our research that have achieved profit margin growth in the last few years strongly agree that this has resulted from investments in digital buying and selling tools to provide better service to customers.
When customers are given the buying experiences they expect, they buy more and remain customers for life. Our findings make it clear that the missing piece of the B2B commerce puzzle is a purpose-built system designed specifically to address the complexities of B2B buying and selling.
B2B sellers should abandon the B2C-like methods hamstringing sales and implement solutions that empower the business to deliver customer experiences that meet increasingly elevated expectations. The message is simple – B2C commerce tools do not work for B2B businesses, and they never will.