Much has been said about the fundamental differences between B2B and B2C e-commerce. The target customer is different, the relationship duration and structure is different, and the buying cycle looks different. But very little attention is paid to the similarities between the two. And the truth is, looking at those similarities can turn B2B e-commerce into a hefty profit! That's why in this blog we give you three best practices from B2C e-commerce that also work for B2B.
B2B buyers have become accustomed to the high-quality shopping experience that consumers everywhere get. And that influences their expectations, also when it comes to purchases they make for work. So B2B companies are under pressure to offer a comparable seamless ecommerce experience.
These are not assumptions: research from McKinsey shows that the impact among B2B and B2C players is the same when the experiences match customer expectations. It results in higher customer satisfaction scores, lower costs, a revenue growth of 10 to 15% per year and an increase in employee satisfaction. So let's get started!
B2C e-commerce is becoming more personal and people want the same experience in B2B e-commerce. Personalization in B2B e-commerce is mainly about providing your customers with the information they need at the right time. For example, by sending lifecycle emails or automated emails. These provide those specific leads with additional, interesting information at specific moments in their customer journey. Or by setting up retargeting ads that give you the opportunity to connect with your potential customer through gated content.
Just think: which newsletters do you prefer to receive? Right! The newsletters that are tailored to your personal interests or experiences. This often happens through small details that show that the company pays attention and cares about your experience. This can be done through newsletters, but also through behavior-triggered emails or retargeting ads that tempt you to make a purchase.
Personalization is also becoming increasingly important in B2B. Gone are the days when a personalized shopping experience was an exception. 65% of business buyers would switch brands if a company didn't bother to make communications personal, according to research from Salesforce.
The channel you choose for this is less important than the personalization itself. Your goal is to show your target group that you as a company know what is going on with them and that you pay attention to this. In the meantime, you collect data at every contact moment, which ensures that you offer your customers an even better shopping experience.
Need inspiration? Then take a look at bol.com or Netflix: they can make hyper-personalized product recommendations by using their data and AI. Those recommendations aren't just based on past purchases, but on all the data they've collected from their customers. In order to retain customers as a B2B company, you must therefore invest in personalization that strengthens existing customer relationships.
Marketers in B2C eCommerce are great at delivering personalized experiences. By segmenting customers, tracking their behavior online and using that information to customize the shopping experience. By providing the right information at the right time, B2B marketers can nurture their leads better throughout the long and often complex sales cycle.
Another area where B2C excels is in providing omnichannel experiences. Regardless of which channel the customer uses, the customer experience is supported in the same way at every touchpoint. B2B marketers often still think too much in terms of 'channels', without overseeing the entire digital ecosystem.
The average B2B customer goes through six different channels before making a purchase. These touchpoints must be consistent and cohesive. Precisely because B2B purchases are not linear, you want to prevent customers from having to supply the same information over and over.
A whopping 75% of B2B buyers say they will order again from the same supplier if they offer a strong online shopping experience. This shows the importance of a seamless omnichannel experience. The business buyer also expects coherent contact moments during the buying process, regardless of the channel on which this contact takes place.
As a B2B company you have a less extensive customer base than an average B2C company. And acquiring new customers often costs more. You are targeting a much narrower target group and you have considerable competition.
Research from Google shows that 86% of business buyers see no noticeable differences between competing products. Differentiation on the basis of price also does not help: research by B2B International showed that 80% of B2B buyers do not consider this a decisive factor. So to really distinguish yourself as a B2B company, you will have to use different tactics. By offering extra value with a loyalty program, for example.
B2C marketers know better than anyone that word of mouth is gold. And smart brands are responding to this by asking their customers to recommend their product or service to friends and family. You are probably familiar with the programs where both the person who recommends the service and the new customer receive a nice extra discount. Those programs work: existing customers become ambassadors and companies can more easily map their successes.
This tactic also works for B2B companies. By setting up a loyalty program and asking your customers to post their review of your product or service on Google or Facebook, you can increase your social proof.
Research by IDC showed that three quarters of B2B buyers ask for recommendations when making purchase decisions via social media. And data from Influitive shows that a whopping 84% of B2B purchases start with a referral from colleagues or friends. Don't those numbers make it worthwhile to turn your customers into ambassadors for your brand?
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