John BrunoJohn BrunoOctober 15, 2019
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7min2291

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.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 2, 2019
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4min1274

The volume of businesses using gift cards as part of their reward, incentive and loyalty schemes has seen a significant uplift year-on-year, according to the latest research published by the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKGCVA).

The State of the Nation report, compiled by GlobalData and sponsored by First Data, found that the B2B gift card market has seen an impressive 20.5 percent growth year-on-year.

Interestingly, more than a third (35.9 percent) of gift card managers also anticipate the B2B gift card market as having the greatest future growth potential, compared with 2.6% of those who say the same for B2C.

Employee incentive schemes are a particularly key avenue for this growth, with over a fifth (21.1 percent) of Brits receiving gift cards through these programmes. This figure rises to 29.9 percent for millennial and Generation Z workers – those aged between 16 and 34 – suggesting that gift cards are a popular method for engaging with the younger generation, and likely to rise in popularity in future.

Encouragingly, this has also been recognised by organisations offering gift cards, with more than six-in-10 gift card managers (61.5 percent) looking to develop direct relationships with businesses wanting to reward their staff. A further 43.6 percent are also developing partnerships with the likes of price comparison businesses, energy providers and media companies, demonstrating the increasingly prominent role gift cards can play in businesses’ incentive and loyalty programmes.

The in-depth research, which surveyed more than 2,000 UK shoppers, C-suite executives, and gift card managers on their perceptions, attitudes and habits towards gift cards, demonstrates that they could be leveraged as a key tool for businesses to engage their staff, as well as customers. However, more needs to be done to secure senior buy-in if this market growth is to continue.

While more than four in five (85 percent) gift card managers believe gift cards to be an important area of growth for their business, this figure drops to just under two thirds (65 percent) of professionals at C-suite level. This is likely due to the fact that almost half of senior-level employees (45 percent) reported having minimal visibility of the results driven by gift cards, and more than a third (35 percent) reported little to no awareness of the opportunities they can present.

Gail Cohen, Director General of the UKGCVA, said: “The right reward scheme can have a hugely positive influence on employee (and customer) loyalty, particularly when used as part of an ongoing incentive and reward programme.

“However, if retailers are to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the growing B2B gift card market, it is imperative that gift card managers and the C-suite are on the same page, requiring greater education and clearer lines of reporting throughout the business around the positive effects gift card programmes can have.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 20, 2019
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3min1307

A new B2B sales conversion service is bringing back the art of the handwritten letter in a scheme that is proving hugely popular with clients.

Conversion optimisation platform ResponseiQ has unveiled Inkdesk, a fully managed service, defining campaigns and crafting handwritten letters along with sourcing and validating CRM-ready data. They employ actual human writers, not robots, to pen clients’ critical messages on a range of premium paper and envelope options. In the US, the letters can even be mailed from a desired location to gain a postal stamp and provide a “local touch”.

“The development of Inkdesk was driven by mediocre, industry-wide response rates of  four percent for direct mail campaigns,” explains Scott Lee, CEO of ResponseiQ.

“Our mission is to excel our clients’ conversion expectations, so we trialed a handwritten letter service and the response and results have been overwhelming – on average, our beta testers have seen ROI rates of 1657 percent.”

James Morritt, Head of Customer Success at EventsCase, said: “Handwritten letters open more doors than any other marketing campaign we do – we’ve had a 2122 percent ROI since adopting the service. As a result of our outreach via Inkdesk, we’ve just signed a deal with CNBC to use our event management software for the World Economic Forum.”

Scott Lee added: “We’ve spent the past few years caught up in a digital cacophony of programmatic ads and hyper personalisation so we decided to take a step back from the millions of emails and websites shared daily and offer clients an impactful, carefully composed personalised letter. We’re seeing response rates of 48 percent, that’s 12 times more than a traditional direct mailer, which clearly indicates a desire for more considered communications.”

 

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 1, 2019
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3min1092

Poor product visualisation is preventing almost a quarter of B2B customers from making purchases online, according to a new report.

E-commerce agency PushON surveyed 500 key business decision makers from up and down the country and found that although the majority of B2B customers (78 percent) actually prefer to shop online, 22 percent have to travel to purchase goods in-store because online retailers do not offer clear product imagery or effective customer service.

When asked why they shop for business products in-store rather than online, product visualisation came out on top, with 81 percent of B2B customers stating they are able to clearly see what products look like in real life. Over half (55 percent) also prefer in-store customer service and the ability to speak to a member of staff for advice.
Over half (55 percent) of those surveyed expressed a strong desire for B2B e-retailers to invest in the same innovative technologies B2C e-commerce businesses are currently investing in. This includes the implementation of augmented reality (AR) to help them better visualise products online (29 percent), and an increase in artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as chatbots to give them the option to speak to someone in real-time, should they need to (26 percent).

Sam Rutley, managing director at PushON, said: “Although B2B retail is suffering a similar fate to B2C, in that customers are increasingly preferring to shop online, B2B e-commerce undoubtbly has a long way to go if it’s ever going to achieve the same results and levels of customer experience as B2C e-commerce.

“Many B2B customers prefer the in-store experience over online simply because they can see products in real life and interact with an expert, which clearly demonstrates that B2B e-commerce isn’t providing these services well enough yet, if at all. This, coupled with the specific desires of customers for investment in AR and AI technologies proves just how far behind B2C e-commerce B2B is.”




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