Ecommerce may be a pervasive part of the B2C shopping experience, but the real potential resides in the B2B world. For the first time in 2018, B2B ecommerce sales surpassed the $1 trillion mark—up 17% from $969 billion in 2017. Ecommerce sales accounted for 12% of the total $9 trillion in U.S. B2B sales in 2018. Forrester projects that sales will hit $1.84 trillion by 2023.
B2B, historically slow to adapt to ecommerce, is quickly implementing new technologies and innovations to meet the needs of their customers and align with the future generations of decision-makers: Millennials and Gen Z. Many Millennials currently sit in decision making roles and expect their B2B shopping experience to be as seamless and convenient as any other online purchase. From easy online ordering and credit check to multiple delivery options, B2B ecommerce has enhanced these functions significantly in recent years.
Creating the best B2B customer experience requires understanding your audience’s shopping behavior, including their pain points, and knowing what features and messaging currently work or don’t work on your site. To be successful in creating that exceptional customer experience, it’s important to use data generated from key areas of your site. We identified the top three data points to track to enhance the B2B customer experience.
1. Behavioral Stats
Bounce rate is the total number of bounces on a page divided by the total number of visits. This stat can be found under the Behavior tab in Google Analytics. The behavior report identifies the bounce rate for each page on your site, or as an average for all pages on the site. It’s typically an indication the customer didn’t find what they were looking for or they were confused. This helps you better understand which areas on the site need improvements, including clear CTAs or more relevant information.
For example, say you have a high bounce rate on your product display pages (PDP). Can they easily check out from the PDP? Are you serving the right content to push them through the buying process? According to Lauren Gomez, Director of Marketing at Positec, “pros [B2B professionals] get the most out of specs, sizing, application, and material— things that are quick hits. They don’t want to read a lot of copy about the product—they just need the right information to know they’ve found the right item.”
Any changes made to the site to reduce the bounce rate should be A/B tested. A/B testing allows you to test two or more variations to clearly identify which one drives conversion and reduces the bounce rate.
Site speed stats can also be found under Behavior in Google Analytics. In B2B ecommerce, slow and steady does not win the race—especially when it comes to site load time. The average load time for retail sites in the U.S. is 9.8 seconds. Each second of delay above this average results in a 7% reduction in conversion, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
There are several ways you can decrease the load time on your page without significant investments. One way is reducing the file size of your images and videos, including your thumbnail images and homepage hero slides. Switching off the plugins you do not need, using a content delivery network (CDN), or hosting our static files in the cloud will also aid in faster page load time.
Gomez notes that the optimal buying process for professionals is “speed.” If it becomes too time-consuming to research or shop for products, shoppers will likely turn elsewhere for their purchasing needs.
2. Payment Preferences
Choosing to integrate multiple payment options may seem like you’re just covering your bases. However, after looking at your site analytics, you’ll likely find only a few payment options make up the majority of purchases. For example, not all B2B buyers pay with credit cards as they would for personal purchases. Offering credit—the ability to make a payment on their company account—would benefit these customers. Additional features such as instant purchase, quick checkout, requisition lists, and quick order forms make it possible for B2B users to replicate previous orders and check out in a matter of minutes.
3. Delivery & Fulfillment Preferences
When customers choose their shipping option, what is most important to them? Flexible delivery date? Multiple shipping addresses? Before throwing resources into updating shipping logistics, determine which fulfillment options your shoppers currently use the most and which ones they desire. If customers frequently visit the store or dealer locator page, this could be an indicator they would rather pick up an item in-store rather than wait for delivery.
Gomez states, “The store locator feature is very important to our Rockwell brand. Our users are more apt to go to a local store to find wearable items, like replacement blades, mainly because we have a wide distribution at Lowe’s stores across the country.”
SouthernCarlson recognized the increasing number of B2B customers seeking a buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) feature with real-time inventory information. With over 140 stores across 34 the United States and Mexico, they wanted to make sure their customers could easily find the item they need online and pick it up at their nearest store. The Blue Acorn iCi team tied the inventory data to their proprietary store locator module. Using geolocation, the ecommerce site chooses the nearest store as the user’s default. This allows the customer to see localized inventory that can be picked up the same day in store.