Make the B2B customer journey just as exciting as for B2C

08-08-2019 CloudSuite

The business models of B2C and B2B are of course very different, but it continues to buy. And the business decisions about what you buy, how much you buy and at what price has a lot to do with emotions, much more than you think.

Whether you order a pair of sneakers for your daughter or a new collection of garden furniture for your lifestyle store, the process is and remains an experience - a shopping experience. Such experiences can be manipulated - sorry, influenced. B2C has a huge lead over B2B in this area, because B2B started this much later and also keeps its distance. "We are digital, we still have a website?" Or: "We do e-commerce, because our catalog is online."

The digital revolution is a marketing revolution and a permanent revolution, to borrow a sentence from Karl Marx. B2C emerged from that revolution, hence the lead. Companies such as Amazon and eBay were digital pioneers who first discovered what you could do with the new technology. Those older, more established and more traditional B2B companies could not match that. Yet the backlog was (and is) not just a matter of technology: B2B culture and mindset also remained analog. "A can of salmon is a can of salmon. We don't need nice photos for that."

Fortunately, that attitude is changing quickly. B2B buyers also shop in their daily lives. Just for fun, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, they enjoy pleasant shopping. That is to say: inspiring pages (not just boring lists of products), real-time product updates, offers that respond to what they really need, sophisticated searches all beautifully wrapped up in a modern design, including on your mobile phone. The thought arises: "That's how I would like it at work, in B2B. Why can't that be?"

Which can. And it is desperately needed.

The stakes don't lie: Forrester has estimated that the B2B eCommerce market in the US alone will be worth $ 1.2 trillion by 2021. By then, B2B will account for 13.1% of all sales. But let's not focus on that nice amount; this is about the 13.1%. Because because does that show? That eCommerce B2B is relatively immature, and that this is precisely where the opportunities lie.

For starters, B2B must think hard about a customer journey that is just as good and exciting as in B2C. As a B2B company, you also have to inspire and personalize with a contemporary design. Make no mistake: these are not frivolous side issues, but pillars of your B2B eCommerce strategy.

Why the customer journey is leading for a B2B platform

Nobody pretends B2B is the same as B2C. The way in which B2B should shape and build the customer journey is significantly different from how they do it in B2C. But B2B can still learn a lot from B2C.

Like all revolutions, digital is brutal and a lot of retail brands and companies have not survived. Creative destruction, absolutely. This also awaits B2B companies if they do not adjust their e-commerce strategy. What should be done? In this blog we look at two of the main points:

  1. Personalization
  2. On-site searches


It increases the conversion, sometimes very firmly. If you do it right, B2B customers will thank you for it. 50% of B2B customers indicate that they would like to see more personalization.

When it comes to personalization, B2B has an advantage over B2C: B2B relationships are much more long term, so you know a lot about your customers.

A good example comes from the eCommerce website of Van Gelder, a Dutch fruit and vegetable wholesaler. The image shows the 'normal' Van Gelder homepage and the homepage that is shown to a visitor who is logged in to the site - the customer. And you can see: the buyer can go straight to his order history.

Van Gelder - Links de homepage voor een niet-ingelogde bezoeker, rechts gepersonaliseerd voor de klant

Afb. On the left the homepage for a not logged on visitor, on the right the personalized view for a customer who is logged on

The tip about the new range of salads and fresh juices with a longer shelf life is not taken from the air, but is based on previous purchases and searches from the buyer. Without personalization, this customer would not have known about the new products and therefore could not order them!

But B2B personalization must go much further than that. You want to segment the product offering yourself and only show the customer what is available to him, at a price that is in line with his contract terms. Custom product lists also have a technical advantage, because B2B ranges and specifications often get out of hand. If you shorten that list, you shorten the loading time and that gives a pleasant shopping experience.

On-site searches

Don't play hide and seek with your customer. We spend 70% of our online time on searches. This does indicate how important search engine optimization is for your company. But the searches on your own site are also extremely important.

Like all online shoppers, B2B eCommerce customers are very impatient; even a delay of a few seconds is counterproductive. Your eCommerce site should therefore display the search bar immediately and unambiguously. Search for a search bar - no, that is not possible.

Even more annoying are searches that yield nothing. Google Tag Manager keeps track of these annoying 'no result' results, so you can collect the data to give a relevant answer.

Just any result is of course not the intention. Irrelevant information probably detracts from a good shopping experience as much as a "no result". Personalization plays a major role here. You can respond relevantly and intelligently to a search by compiling your suggestions from the buyer's order history and wish list, supplemented with real-time contextual information such as the weather or time of year if that is relevant to that search. With collaborative filtering, you can capture the affinity between products, and thus make all kinds of smart recommendations. The 'people who bought this, bought that too' message is a typical B2C technique that also pays off in a B2B context.

From theory to reality

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? Read the whitepaper "Why a shopping experience is leading for a B2B platform" and get practical tools to put theory into practice


Download the whitepaper