In the latest years, the online B2B-market has found inspiration from the B2C-market. The B2B-buyers expect many of the same B2C e-commerce elements adapted to B2B-sites. Some of the keywords are personification, digital automation and user-generated content.
A paradigm shift
A new paradigm in online B2B has gained a foothold. Among experts, the term used to describe it is called B2B 2.0, and some of the most eye-catching elements are that B2B-sites increasingly try to design and adopt many of the same things seen on B2C-sites. The shift has been kick-started by web 2.0 and social tools but is also driven by the expectations from buyers of B2B-services. The buyers of B2B-services are also consumers and they expect individual adaption, self-service options and a possibility of sharing knowledge as well as reaching user-generated content like product reviews simple and easy. These elements are something most people would associate with B2C-sites.
When most experts explain the next generation of B2B-strategies, they all look towards the same model.
Self-service and lower costs
Operational Automation is about optimizing and streamlining the handling of orders. Typically, you will see a digital automation where customers can make use of self-service. If you use a Magento-platform, the user can easily access credit notes, inventory, order status and much more. As the front-end users are integrated with the back-end ERPS, all the data is updated in real-time. The idea is that the individual customer can access all relevant information when visiting the site.
The main objective is to reduce costs per transaction and direct more customers towards online channels in order to reduce the volume of service calls to the call center. This provides companies with the opportunity to eliminate human errors and at the same time give employees more resources to focus on tasks that help the company generate a higher revenue.
From order takers to order makers
The buyer-centric marketing strategy is about having a customer-centered approach. Here you consider all customers as unique and individual. It is based on the view that there is no such thing as an average customer but every individual has different behavior and different preferences.
These preferences can be met by a personification of the B2B-site. With the Magento-platform it is possible to adjust the product range to a specific customer and by doing so the customer will only see the most relevant products for his or hers specific needs. In Magento, you can also add words of welcome and a company logo for the customer when entering the site. One of those things that is an integral part of all B2C-stores is related products providing cross-selling opportunities. This function is simply integrated into Magento for B2B, as the data collected from the customer can automatically customize related products tailor-made for the specific customer’s needs. It is also possible to adapt special prices and discounts specifically for one customer or a customer group.
Those functions create an incentive to add extra products to the basket as the related products is targeted to the individual customer’s needs. Those functions also fit well to the B2B motto of going from “order takers to order makers”.
Rich customer experience is about being easy to do business with. Previously, B2B-sites have not focused heavily on providing customers with an extensive and rich experience online, with a lack of self-service options giving companies loads of inbound service calls. To increase customer satisfaction B2B-sites can consider if some of the elements from the B2C-sites are worth applying. One of the trends is to offer online communities where users can share experiences and where the company can enter discussions, have a positive dialogue with customers, and provide post-sale service on the products. Microsoft’s online community is a prime example of that.
Product reviews have been an integral part of B2C-shopping for a long time. Very few people buy without making any research beforehand. To provide B2B-buyers with an opportunity to read feedback and experiences of others increases the chance of influencing the purchase decision. According to a report from Nielsen.com, a global company focusing on consumer analysis, 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from a site, if rankings and product reviews are accessible. An analysis from Demand Gen Report, an American market research company focusing on B2B marketing and trends, shows that 97% of B2B-buyers in The US say that user-generated content such as product reviews is more reliable than any other type of content.
Online product reviews still have a long way to go in the B2B-market compared to the influence on the B2C-market, but everything indicates that it will be very important in the future because of the increasing expectations from the B2B-buyers. It can, therefore, be an advantage to encourage customers to make reviews of your products and services. If you were to order a product or service from a new supplier tomorrow, you would probably look for reviews to provide you with the right information before placing an order.
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