The B2B retail market is expected to grow to USD 6.7 trillion by 2020. And with 68% of B2B buyers now making purchases online, B2B sellers would do well to capitalize on online sales platforms such as ecommerce sites.
But prematurely launching an ecommerce site is not always a good idea, and can even spell trouble for your business. Word goes around fast online, and if you screw things up, consequences will come immediate and hard.
There are valid reasons not to launch an ecommerce site just yet, and below is a list of seven:
Poor user interface design
Usability and ease of navigation are necessary for your site to make a good first impression. Poor loading speed negatively affects revenue, whereas an enhanced user interface drives up conversions, as evidenced by these case studies.
If you want to keep your target B2B buyers glued to your site and going from just browsing to purchasing, ensure that your ecommerce site is user-friendly, loads fast, has the right balance of functionality and aesthetics, and doesn’t make it difficult for your customers to buy.
Wrong ecommerce vendor
It’s not just some technology you plug in and play. As with a potential mate, choose the wrong ecommerce vendor and you’re bound to suffer.
If you opt for a cheap ecommerce platform with basic features, the odds are you’ll have to find another vendor as your business scales and your ecommerce needs become more complex. Opt for a multifaceted one when the need for it is yet to be established, and you’re likely to lose some hard-earned dollars.
Some key things to keep in mind when choosing an ecommerce vendor to partner with:
- How long does it take to set up your store?
- How much does the platform cost?
- Is it easy to use?
- What security features does it carry?
- Is it customizable?
- Is there an option to add features in the future?
- How well does it work on mobile?
- Does the vendor have a solid track record?
- What support options do they offer?
No clear search engine optimization (SEO) plan
The search engines, to this day, are still widely used when it comes to finding information online. Approximately 6.5 billion searches are made each day across the world, with Google taking the lion’s share at 67.78% of all queries as of March 2016.
A search engine optimization initiative, therefore, is paramount for your ecommerce site to be highly searchable. When asked how to do exactly that, can you recall, off the top of your head, what the plan is? If not, can you point to someone on your team who can?
No dedicated content manager
Just like in regular brick-and-mortar stores, more foot traffic means more potential sales. If you have a site and an SEO plan but not enough content, don’t launch your ecommerce site just yet. Your SEO won’t run on technicalities alone. You need high-quality content, and for that, you need people to create those for you, as often and as reliably as possible.
According to HubSpot, more blog posts generate more traffic. In fact, a study they conducted concluded that:
“Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 - 4 monthly posts.”
No dedicated customer service personnel
In the same spirit that you need someone to craft high-quality content to serve good SEO and user experience on your website, you also need someone to assist your B2B clients. According to several statistics pooled by data company InsightSquared, 66% of customers switch to competitors because of poor service, while a whopping 82% felt their original provider could have prevented them from switching.
So before launching your ecommerce site, make sure you have customer service personnel at the ready, dedicated to taking care of client relationships for you.
No robust security measures
In 2013, PCWorld quoted damning statistics from the National Cyber Security Alliance:
- 20% of small businesses are likely to get hacked.
- Of those 20%, 60% close up shop within six months after a cyber attack.
If site security is not something your budget can afford, better delay your launch plans. Security is neither optional nor a joke when you're processing payments from B2B customers. And you certainly don’t want the backlash that will ensue in the event you fall victim to an attack.
While security is a feature most trustworthy ecommerce vendors are willing to provide, when it comes to your customers’ sensitive data, you can never be too secure.
Limited payment options
An increasing number of B2B buyers prefer and even expect an omnichannel experience when making purchases. We’re talking about customers who order online and pick up their purchases in-store the following day. Or customers browsing products using their smartphone, and then making credit card payments later via their desktop. In short, customers want a seamless shopping experience regardless of the device or purchasing method (i.e., in-store, online, or over the phone) they employ.
This is true for payment options, too. They want flexibility when buying from you. The more payment methods you offer them, the better for your business. Differentiate yourself by allowing your buyers to use a variety of online payment systems, from credit cards to PayPal, from Google Wallet to maybe even Bitcoin.
Another way to make your business stand out would be to extend credit to your B2B clients. At first glance, it may seem like a risky thing to do, but instead of financing this payment scheme yourself, you can look to partner with online payment companies such as Apruve, for example.
You don’t march into battle unprepared, and you don’t simply launch an ecommerce site just because you feel like it. So your B2B ecommerce site doesn’t fail before it even takes off, remember to launch only when you’re ready.