Are you redesigning your B2B ecommerce site this year? Looking at expanding into the ecommerce space with your B2B products and services? Congratulations! You are on the right track for success. B2B ecommerce is growing rapidly and savvy B2B organizations are tackling ecommerce head on and disrupting the competition. Wondering what components go into a successful B2B ecommerce site?
The right ecommerce platform
The ecommerce solutions you are considering aren’t all alike. Choosing the wrong vendor can completely make or break your ecommerce project. Chances are good that the ecommerce module that your ERP vendor is selling won’t stand up to the competition. Neither will an ecommerce shopping cart. You need a robust ecommerce platform that allows you to scale the site as your business grows, not to mention one that has the functionality you need already built in. Do your homework. Ask lots of questions.
Simple, easy-to-use site design
You’re probably thinking, “Duh!” but on more than one occasion I would have bet my paycheck that the people who created a website I was on set out to make it as complicated as possible. I’m guessing you’ve experienced a few of those sites as well. A simple layout and consistent navigation will go a long way to making your site easy to use.
Human beings are visual creatures and, as such, images play an important role in the success of your B2B ecommerce site. Product images as well as promotional images will ensure that your B2B ecommerce site has the retail site feel that today’s consumers expect.
Robust product content
Today’s online shoppers are used to having the information they need right at their finger tips and they often consume information at a startling rate. To keep pace, your B2B ecommerce site must offer robust and relevant product content that can’t be found anywhere else on the web. More than product specifications and pricing, product content includes informational images, graphics, schematics, color swatches, MSDS data sheets, trouble-shooting guides and how-to documents.
Public-facing web pages
As more people shop online for the products and services they need to conduct business on a daily basis, it becomes increasingly critical that your organization and its products are easily found on the Web. Without public-facing web pages, the search engine crawlers can’t find you. If the search engine crawlers can’t find you, neither can anyone else. Now, I’m not suggesting that you make your entire site public–instead, consider sharing your product catalog without pricing to generate new traffic to your site and new customers.
Calls to action
In order to be successful, your ecommerce site needs to employ clear and compelling calls to action (CTA) on its public pages as well as on those pages that are secured behind a login. Calls to action on public facing pages engage visitors and encourage them to take the next step in becoming a customer. For example, you might ask site visitors to download a brochure or schedule a call to learn more about doing business with you. The calls to action you use on your secure pages should drive your customers to buy and might include add-to-cart or request-a-quote buttons. Wherever they are, make sure that your calls to action are clear, concise, and moves your visitor further along in the buying process.
Intuitive checkout process
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the things that, if handled incorrectly, can botch what would have been an otherwise successful sale. Completing the check out process on your B2B ecommerce site should be simple and to the point. Store information from previous orders to make checkout faster and streamline the checkout pages until you have no more than two–preferably one! Your customers–and your bottom line–will thank you for it.
A way for customers to contact you–preferably more than one
The cursory toll-free phone number is a good way for your customers to reach you as is providing a support email address. (Just make sure that someone checks the email box!) However, today’s technology makes it possible to interact with your customer in new ways such as via live chat. More personal than email and less intrusive than a phone call, live chat will engage your customers more often that phone or email alone.
This is the one that most B2B organizations miss. Integration makes sure that your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as well as other stand alone business systems communicate with your ecommerce site automatically. Integration eliminates the need for duplication of effort, limits your risk of mistakes due to human error and makes your organization more efficient.