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It’s 2017: that means that we’re just three years away from 2020, the year Forrester Research predicted that business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce sales would top $1.1 trillion. Strong revenue growth isn’t the only thing that’s changing for online professional sales, though. If you’re currently or planning to sell to professional buyers online, you simply cannot afford to ignore the increasing consumerization of B2B web stores.
There are clear differences between web stores created with consumers in mind, and online sales portals focused on providing the best possible service for professional buyers, which we will discuss later on in the article.
What’s more important is what these two types of web store have in common: user expectations.
All professional buyers are consumers when they’re off the clock, and most of them are used to using business-to-consumer (B2C) web stores. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 79% of Americans have purchased something online.
With web stores becoming more and more ubiquitous, major e-commerce players like Amazon are actively shaping expectations users have of online buying experiences – including the one your B2B company offers, or plans to offer in the future.
This consumerization trend is raising an already high bar for B2B web stores. This is because B2B online sales portals have to meet the many additional wishes and requirements professional buyers have compared to consumers.
These include, but are certainly not limited to:
A key concept underpins these requirements: personalization.
The nature of the relationship between you and your client means that personalization not only helps you deliver a pleasant online buying experience: it is essential for efficient and accurate order placement. Without personalization, you cannot let your clients benefit from customer-specific pricing, or provide accurate sales tax or shipping fees.
Unless you are able to offer this level of personalization, you cannot provide the convenience that your clients have come to expect from ordering online – and without that, your clients have no reason not to simply call their trusted contact at your sales department and place their order the old-fashioned way.
If you are familiar with our e-commerce solution or even regularly read our blog posts, our advice on how to best get started with web store personalization probably won’t come as a surprise.
Order details, client data, tax and shipping calculations – this and much more is stored in your ERP system. Taking a single-stack approach to e-commerce lets you make smart and efficient use of this treasure trove of information, without having to set up unnecessarily complex IT systems.
Email marketing done right offers an incredible ROI. Instead of taking a spray-and-pray approach, divide your clients into groups with shared characteristics. This lets you send emails with more specific content that is much more likely to result in clicks and conversions.
You can also go a step further and personalize the content of your web store itself. This could be anything from displaying only relevant menu items or even custom promotional banners, ensuring that you show your clients the information that is relevant to their needs or interests.
This is especially interesting for businesses with clients that order (almost) exclusively from them. With such a detailed picture of the client’s buying habits, you can use this data to compile suggested orders based on historical order data.
There are many ways that custom content and personalized marketing can improve the bottom line of your B2B organization. To learn more about why personalization works and how your company’s marketing can benefit, download the white paper Why Is Personalized Marketing Beneficial for Your B2B Business?
This post was originally published at ERP Software Blog.
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