‘Our webshop needs to be businesslike and customers need to be able to place their orders quick and without hassle’. For years this comment was considered to be a normal response towards e-commerce, however, opinions are changing. Nowadays, (B2B) businesses are realizing the importance of brand positioning and building a brand experience for their customers, whether they are operating B2C or B2B. Consequently, marketers are working hard to build a powerful brand for B2B webshops.
In 1999 Pine & Gilmore presented their ‘Brand Experience Model’, a theory on the relation between adding story to a product and a successful brand image. In sum, the authors state that a positive experience contributes both internally and externally to a brand’s reputation. Moreover, the positive experience contributes to a high level of brand recognition, in which people acknowledge, trust and accept the brand more easily.
Meanwhile, the theory of Pine & Gilmore has also become applicable to B2B e-commerce. As emotion has gained increasing importance in business transactions and buying processes. After going through a positive order process, chances are the customer will return to the same webshop to order more products. Even when competitors are offering the exact same product at lower prices. The positive experience can be triggered by original product packing, an engaging company tour video, or after reading an interesting blog post.
Corporate e-commerce has placed more and more emphasis on inspiration and experience. This is mainly due to the influence of B2C webshops on customers and their perception of brand experience (think of: Amazon, Wehkamp, Bol, Fonq). B2B operators spending their free time purchasing personal goods online, are being influenced during rich and inspirational B2C experiences. The same customer is also a B2B customer when one purchases goods for the company online. As a result, they expect to encounter the same experience during this online transaction.
With B2C experience, I not only aim at simplicity and efficiency during the buying process, but also at fresh designs, storytellings, blogs, whitepapers, webinars and a consistent online appearance. Keep in mind that customers will eventually associate a positive experience with the brand.
A positive brand experience adds value for current and prospective customers. When clients are being a ‘fan’ of your brand, they are prepared to inspire others to become a customers too. Branding is thus an aid to build a loyal customer base and a tool to attract new target groups. However, that is not all, a powerful brand also positively boosts your corporate reputation. Which in turn distinguishes your organization from the competition. Moreover, it creates expectations within your established clientele: they know what your brand offers and radiates. Overall, powerful branding has many advantages and guarantees future prospects and successes.