As the owner or manager of a B2B distribution company in 2018, you probably know how important it is to begin building an online presence as soon as you possibly can.
If this is uncharted territory for your company, you may be a bit reluctant to dive head-first into the world of e-commerce - and understandably so. Though setting up an e-commerce site is relatively easy, setting up a functional B2B e-commerce site that makes a difference to your company’s bottom line is a much more involved process.
Luckily, you don’t have to start entirely from scratch. In fact, there’s a slightly simple solution to your seemingly insurmountable problem that will help you get your B2B e-commerce site up and running in no time.
Enter BigCommerce, a website development tool explicitly focused on the e-commerce vertical. Not only does BigCommerce simplify the process of creating an e-commerce website, but the company also handles all the backend issues of running a site, such as hosting and maintenance.
Now, although BigCommerce’s site development interface is intuitive and quite easy to use, you still need to know how to optimize the structure, design, and content of your e-commerce site to provide a high-quality experience to your users. In this article, we’re going to discuss some of the things you absolutely must do when creating your B2B e-commerce site using BigCommerce.
Let’s get started.
Four Things You Need to Do When Creating a B2B Store on BigCommerce
Before we dive in, we need to make clear that there are a number of fundamentals you need to pay attention to when creating a B2B e-commerce site - no matter what software you use to do so.
In addition to the BigCommerce-specific features we’ll discuss throughout this article, we’ll also circle back around to a discussion of these fundamentals - ensuring that you gain an understanding of why BigCommerce’s features are so beneficial.
Now, without further ado, let’s dive in.
Be as Informative as Possible
The reason e-commerce has come into favor in the B2B world is heavily due to the fact that information is readily available to buyers at the touch of a screen or click of a mouse.
(Case in point, you’ve probably heard that the average B2B buyer is more than halfway to the point of making a purchasing decision by the time they reach out to a supplier.)
The thing is: if a buyer isn’t getting this information from your website, they’re definitely getting it elsewhere. Needless to say, there’s a much higher chance of them doing business with this other source.
(Case in point again, 76% of B2B customers say the most critical factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want”)
Typically, the primary information your customers are looking for is information directly related to the products you offer.
At the very least, you want to ensure your product pages have information regarding the product’s description and specs, as well as a number of product photos from various angles. You also might choose to list similar and supplemental products in an attempt to generate additional sales via upsells and cross-sells.
In the example above, you’ll notice Harbor City Supply provides a ton of information regarding its products, suggests similar products for customers to check out, and even incentivizes additional purchases (by offering free shipping on orders over $99).
Using BigCommerce, you can also maintain a blog to host supplemental content to help your customers get the most out of the products they purchase. Again, take a look at this example from Harbor City Supply:
Like we said before: your potential customers are going to get this information from somewhere on the web; you’ll be much better off if they get it from you.
You also want to ensure your site offers information relating to the logistics of the ordering process. This essentially includes all of the information you’d typically want your customers to know once they show an interest in making a purchase from your company (e.g., payment options, delivery timing, etc.); the point here is to make this information readily available
Finally, make sure your site provides contact information for your company in case your customers need to speak with a representative of your brand before they make a purchase. Again, make this info as accessible as possible (typically within the footer of every page on your site).
Not only does providing all of this information upfront make your site’s visitors more likely to stick around and make a purchase, but it also increases your search engine optimization, as well. In turn, you stand to passively gain additional customers in the future - only because you’ve loaded your site with valuable content for your target audience to digest.
Make Navigation Simple and Intuitive
As new as the prospect of building an e-commerce site may to be you, the prospect of shopping on an e-commerce site might be equally as foreign to your customers.
As we’ve recently discussed, many B2B e-commerce websites are, in the simplest of terms, quite clunky. This, unfortunately, leads to confusion and frustration on the part of the customer - which, of course, isn’t exactly good for business.
With that in mind, you need to ensure your site is easy to navigate even for non-digital natives. This means:
- Making the various sections and sub-sections of your site easy to find
- Making call-to-action and other functional buttons easy to read and interact with
- Ensuring your website is navigable on multiple platforms (e.g., laptop, desktop, and mobile device)
(Check out this instructional guide for more on BigCommerce’s mobile-responsive themes.)
Speaking of themes, in addition to ensuring your site’s user interface is navigable and logically put-together, you also want to take the time to be sure that its appearance aligns with your branding from an aesthetic perspective. As noted above, many B2B e-commerce sites are rather dull in appearance; because of this, providing an aesthetically-pleasing interface may end up being one of the “little things” that keep your visitors engaged with your brand.
One of the huge advantages of BigCommerce’s B2B software is that it allows companies to implement the personalization and individual attention their customers typically expect - whether on- or offline.
For one thing, BigCommerce allows you to quickly tweak the advertised price of a product (or bulk sets of a product) for each of your customers. When a given customer logs into their account on your site, they’ll then be presented with prices that have been tailored specifically to them, based on agreements they’d previously made with your sales department.
(Note: When implementing tailored pricing, be sure to hide your prices from visitors until they’ve logged into their account.)
Similarly, you can also use BigCommerce to personalize the ordering process for your customers, as well. For your long-time customers who make repeat purchases at regular intervals, they’ll easily be able to log into their account and place their regular order in no time (as opposed to needing to refill their cart, input their payment info, etc. every single time they make a purchase).
You also might choose to include a subscription-based option, as NutreeVit does here:
Quite simply: the easier it is for your customers to make a purchase, the more likely they are to go through with doing so. By removing as much friction as possible - and even setting your customers up, so that much of the process is already done for them - they’ll be that much closer to making a purchase every time they visit your site.
Use BigCommerce’s Integrations
Now, some of the things we’ve mentioned so far are doable with BigCommerce’s baseline software - and some require the use of add-ons to get the most out of them.
While an explanation of how to use each of these integrations could undoubtedly be an article of its own, we’ll provide you with a quick list of some of the most popular - and valuable - BigCommerce apps available for B2B companies:
Quotes and Estimates
- Elfsight Pricing Table: Allows you to easily explain your tiered pricing methods to your customers, so they know exactly what they’ll be getting - and exactly how much they should expect to pay in return.
- WisePricer: Allows you to set dynamic pricing according to market trends, competitors’ prices, and other such fluctuations. With WisePricer, you’ll also be sent alerts when pricing changes require your immediate attention.
- Bulk Order & Wholesale for B2B: Allows you to create a separate section of your site specifically for wholesale buyers, making it easier to develop tailored offers to your most profitable customers.
- MinMax Order Limits: Allows you to set a minimum (and maximum) order amount or order value per transaction. In setting a minimum order amount, you’ll essentially be able to ensure an increase in AOV.
- Recurring Payments & Invoicing by PayWhirl: Allows you to personalize the payment process for individual customers in a variety of ways (such as we mentioned in the section above).
- Customer-Group-Based Payment Method Rules by IntuitSolutions: Allows you to accept or restrict payment options based on pre-made agreements with individual customers. Typically, the more trusting the relationship with a customer, the more payment options you’ll allow over time.
- Extend Net Terms by Apruve: Allow your customers to pay on net terms at checkout with Apruve credit management software. The credit network underwrite your buyers to let your business easily extend terms without risk or cash flow concerns.