The growth and adoption of eCommerce in the wholesale distribution channel has changed the B2B landscape.
With the global reach of the Internet, you're no longer competing against just a handful of local or regional distributors.
The global marketplace means customers have more choices. If you don't keep up with customer expectations, you'll fall behind the curve and lose business.
Here's how to leverage the latest technologies to deliver an outstanding customer experience so you can stay ahead of your competition:
1. Deliver a Robust Mobile Experience
The growth of B2B eCommerce is led by mobile device ordering and will continue to do so as more customers are accustomed to making purchases from anywhere and at any time using their smartphones and tablets.
In one study, 63% of survey respondents said their customers place orders on a mobile device.
To stand out from your competitors, design an outstanding mobile user experience that makes placing orders and managing accounts on mobile devices easy and seamless.
2. Implement Features That Add Value To B2B Customers
There are many bells and whistles you can add to an eCommerce website.
However, not all of them are relevant to B2B eCommerce customers. If you blindly follow B2C eCommerce strategies, you may be unknowingly sabotaging your conversion rate.
For example, B2B customers are willing to go through a longer process up front to set up payment options, such as extended credit, to facilitate future purchases.
3. Adapt To Globalization With Localization
eCommerce allows distributors to enter markets in new territories or geographic areas. While globalization means you have access to a much larger market, you're also facing more competition.
To stand out from competitors from all over the world, your eCommerce platform needs the ability to adapt to each regional market. In fact, 59% of B2B merchants are increasing international accessibility with regionally focused sites.
Your B2B eCommerce site should offer multi-lingual and multi-currency support. You may need to localize your products while taking the necessary steps to comply with local tax regulations and privacy legislation.
4. Enable Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing has been changing how distributors are interacting with and selling to customers. With the right strategies and technologies in place, you can customize communication to each stakeholder in each company to optimize your conversion rate.
From product selection to account-specific pricing and buyer-specific quota, your eCommerce platform should display account-specific information to deliver an augmented customer experience.
With the aid of personalization technologies, you can segment prospects or clients and send them the most relevant content or offers so you can move them along the customer journey quickly and effectively.
5. Up Your Content Marketing Game
It's becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish your business just by offering more or cheaper products. Relationships often factor into B2B customers' purchasing decisions and content marketing provides you with the means to cultivate the trust you need for customer retention.
A B2B audience looks for high-quality, in-depth, and educational information targeted to their needs, e.g., help them solve a challenge or do their jobs better.
Combined with personalization automation, you can deliver highly relevant content to specific customer segments via email, social media, personalized website content, and even print newsletter.
6. Delight Buyers With Responsive Customer Support
Another way to effectively retain more customers is by providing outstanding customer service.
Pre-sale support helps you acquire new customers while post-purchase customer care helps build relationships and cultivate loyalty.
B2B buyers expect the ability to interact with distributors through multiple channels, such as website, email, live chat, phone, SMS, or social media, and get prompt responses to their inquiries.
They also expect in-depth answers about your products from these interactions. Besides providing sufficient training to the customer care team, you may need to direct pre-sale questions to your sales reps to help prospects make their purchasing decisions.
7. Facilitate Purchase With Self-Service
An increasing number of B2B buyers want the ability to make a purchase and manage their accounts online without having to interact with a sales representative.
A robust eCommerce platform with the capability to handle complex pricing and product configuration while allowing account-based access is critical to the success of any distribution business.
In addition, B2B customers want the ability to access information on their own. A customer portal with an FAQ page, knowledge base, and/or community forum will not only improve customer satisfaction but also help reduce costs.
8. Embrace Cloud Computing
To meet many of today's customer expectations -- such as seamless interactions, omnichannel support, and real-time update on account status -- you need a centralized platform to store all the data.
By having a single customer view and all your customer information in one unified location in the cloud, you can interact with customers through different channels without missing a beat.
Since all the data is synched in real-time, your team can get the latest information to assist your customers effectively while reducing errors due to miscommunications.
9. Integrate Supply Chain and Demand Forecast
All the hard work you put into improving your customers' buying experience and meeting their expectations will be for naught if you don't have the right products in stock!
With the aid of technologies, you can now integrate supply chain management and demand forecasting to improve your ability to meet market demand.
Involve your sales team in demand planning to get insights into the latest market trends. In addition, ensure data transparency so information can be shared across the entire organization to help you react to customer demand in a timely manner.