B2B companies lagged behind the consumer market in digital personalization for a long time. A business lunch or golf appointment was the standard. Today, digital contact in particular is the norm. With digital natives holding executive positions, it's time for innovation. Picking up the phone is a thing of the past, much more often we say "hello" via the website. But in this digital age, how do you still provide personal contact?
You know better than anyone that the process to a B2B purchase works differently than with consumers. So personalization in this market is also just a bit different. Just as in a B2C webshop you suggest ordering a vase to complement your flowers and convince the buyer by this impulse (even if he already had one at home as well), this is less likely to work in B2B. Purchases in B2B rarely depend on a single, or impressionable buyer. There are often multiple parties that need to be convinced. In this, what B2B personalization can and should do is provide solutions to problems.
An example: when the delivery of an order is disrupted because of bottlenecks in supply, it is very annoying for the customer. You, as a salesperson, want to intervene with a scenario that solves, or reduces, the problem. But how can you make the customer feel better and more reassured, without having direct contact about this? You can automatically suggest an alternative product. Or the same product, but from a different warehouse or production location. Possibly in a smaller quantity than the delayed order, but with a fixed delivery date that prevents serious problems for your customer. In this way, you contribute to solving a problem in a personalized way, without the customer having to call you to do so.
Personalization does not take away the salesperson's rights. In complex situations, sellers can be a valuable extension of the personalized alternatives offered. Whether the buyer responds to your offer is then equally secondary; at least you have shown that you are helpful and authoritative, and this is what builds trust.
There are many ways to personalize the homepage. Often the homepage is the page the customer lands on first, a good time to welcome him! By having the customer login, or choose his purpose on the website, the system recognizes him. This allows him, for example, to see a dashboard with information specific to him. Think of stock alerts of frequently ordered products, or the status of orders the customer has made. In this way, you show the customer that you recognize him and make his journey on your Web shop easier.
B2B organizations often have complex pricing structures. Fortunately, modern eCommerce platforms have powerful pricing engines, or seamless integrations with business-critical systems that contain the company's financial information. Thus, customers are offered personalized prices. This ensures that these prices are the same for the buyer on every sales channel. If you don't, there is a good chance that trust will drop and it will become a dealbreaker.
Many B2B companies have tens if not hundreds of thousands of stock keeping units (SKUs). It's unlikely that many customers are shopping in every part of your inventory. You can show customers personalized product categories through custom catalogs. This allows them to see only the relevant product content on the home page. This makes for more intuitive and faster searching, and avoids a frustrating search experience.
Show customers content that is relevant to them. You want buyers to log in and "become" personas, so to speak. You define those personas in the backend of the webshop, or segment them by industries, for example. You can also tailor it to their order history or search behavior.
To do personalized email marketing, you need to make the content relevant to different segments of your audience. The benefits of personalization are significant, but so are the pitfalls. It is important that you show each email offer 1-to-1 on the web shop. After all, it is a real waste to draw attention and link to promotions that are not on your homepage or product list page. Consistency in this builds trust, and makes the customer feel special.
To summarize, to provide a good customer experience and gain trust from the customers, it is very important that you personalize as a B2B eCommerce company. As a seller, you offer a solution to the problems experienced by the customer, or at least make it easier for him in his customer journey. You can do this through a personalized homepage, customized prices and catalogs, personalized content and email campaigns. This way you let the buyer be autonomous in his decision-making process, build trust and give him a fine customer experience!