What’s your sin?
1. Launching a site without investing time in developing a launch plan
More often than not, looking at industry trends and other successful companies in our space, we expect that if we launch a well-designed site, people will use it – the “if you build it, they will come” ideal. However, this is a fallacy. The best platform, partner and design won’t help adoption if key stakeholders in the process do not understand it’s value. A well-defined and communicated site launch and onboarding strategy is the key to mitigating this situation, but are typically overlooked during the intense testing and implementation processes.
2. Using a B2C site to build a complex B2B experience
Until recently, most large eCommerce platforms billed themselves as a good fit for both B2C and B2B companies, but trying to make a simple B2C platform work for a highly-complex B2B business is like trying to fit a “square peg in a round hole.” As buyer behavior and marketplace expectations have exponentially grown, it is now, more than ever, quite apparent that B2B is not B2C. B2B companies have often made the mistake of purchasing a B2C-centric eCommerce platform hoping to have that “Amazon-like” experience and adapting the rest of the platform to work for some fundamental B2B features, such as punchout capabilities, product configurators and customer-specific pricing. Understanding the core differences between a B2C platform and a B2B platform and how that translates to your end customer’s needs is crucial to your long-term success.
3. Relying on basic search capabilities to drive your business
Let’s state the obvious: simply having a search box on your site is not enough. While in recent history searches we’re as simple as: if the keyword appears in the headline or “tags” on any of my pages on my site, return them all in a list, technology and user expectations have surpassed basic search features. Today, users expect to find what they’re looking for on your site very quickly. To borrow a popular idiom from SEO: “The best place to bury a dead body is the second page of search results.” Today’s site search requirements should mirror and surpass user-experiences on major search engines.
4. Assuming that B2B customers don’t care about a well-designed site
A well-designed site is more than just an engaging visual experience, it’s also optimized to make navigating the complex products, pricing and purchasing process easier for B2B buyers. The most effective B2B sites will offer better usability overall than similar B2C sites. Typical B2B product catalogs can have tens-of-thousands, if not hundreds-of-thousands or more items in their catalogs. All of which can have multiple variations and are typically bought in volume with discounts or pricing set at the customer level. As a result, one could argue that design is even more critical in B2B than in B2C.
5. Providing incomplete or insufficient product data
The foundation of a successful B2B eCommerce website is providing your customer with all the information (and likely more) that they need to make a purchase decision. By this point, most B2B eCommerce companies understand the research patterns today’s purchasers make online, and a majority of it comes in the form of research done via a search engine. It’s no longer good enough to simply take syndicated content or offer only minimal data points, like product name and price.
6. Expecting your site to drive revenue out of the gate
Not all sites will generate revenue at launch, but if there’s a good launch and onboarding plan, they will likely reduce cost-to-serve for the existing customer base – another key measure of success in eCommerce. By using a robust B2B eCommerce platform, companies can enable their current customers to self-serve many common B2B tasks online. Most of these tasks are typically done by visiting a branch in person, or calling, emailing, or faxing a customer service representative. By empowering the self-serve, you avoid a contact to your representatives, and bring the customer back to you site, where they will not only self-serve but likely start buying as well.
7. Having no infrastructure in place to measure your customer experience
For a majority of eCommerce implementations, there is a database or system of record for transactions, usually the ERP. While the ERP’s transactional data will still likely be the source of truth for measuring transactional-related success, additional analytics platforms, such as web analytics, will also be crucial to measuring behavior on the website. Behavioral and acquisition data can be complied and cross-referenced with transactional data to get a much more robust and actionable set of data to assist in measuring success and fine-tuning the design and interactions on the site.