It all starts with what your customers need and want. Unfortunately, distributor buyers aren’t as easy to market to as B2C customers. For example, many industrial buyers move from project to project and need new solutions every few months. Others, on the other hand, may manage inventory that contains the same items and frequently need to replenish their inventory.
The B2B buying process is long and often involves decision makers from different departments. A lot of time, research and product comparison is spent on B2B shopping. When designing your e-commerce experience, remember that your buyers are already under a lot of stress. To keep them happy, you need to make your site user-friendly and informative. Customers should have the ability to quickly find an item, read a detailed description, compare it to similar products, and ultimately add it to their cart.
What features does your B2B e-commerce site need?
Your e-commerce site should be convenient for everyone, including customers with fluctuating needs and those who need to reorder frequently. To do this, you need to integrate the following features:
- Precise relevance of the search
- PIM solution
- Content Management System
- Recommender systems (such as “frequently bought together” or “for you”)
- Easy replenishment options
Industrial buyers expect the same level of attention and personalization as B2C customers. To meet their shopping needs and preferences, you should design your e-commerce site with AI-powered tools and functions.
What resources are available?
Before you begin, consider the resources available. The success of the project depends on a variety of factors, including funding and support from your IT department, sales teams, and senior management.
The effectiveness of your digital efforts will diminish if representatives from every department are not on board. In some cases, your team may feel threatened and push back against new technologies and workflows. To combat this, excellent communication and change management are essential.
What are the integration requirements for your B2B e-commerce site?
Different technology partners will have different integration requirements. While most e-commerce tools and technologies work with multiple systems, some are more limited. When looking for a partner to help you build or improve your e-commerce site, be sure to ask them about their integration requirements.
What do you need to build a business case?
A great business case is key to gaining approval to invest in a full-featured e-commerce site. To create a compelling case, be sure to include the following factors:
- Cost and return on investment — How much will it cost to create or update your e-commerce site? What long-term return on investment can you expect?
- Time/Resources expended — How long does it take to build your site and integrate all the necessary tools and functions? What internal staff/resources are needed to ensure the success of the project?
- Competitive analysis of competitors using e-commerce — Which of your competitors are already present on e-commerce? Are their sites well done? How can you improve your shopping experience to be competitive and gain a greater share of wallet?
- Impact on the sales team — What impact will digitalization have on your sales team? How can your AI-powered e-commerce site improve their jobs and make them more effective sellers?
How will you drive customers to your site and keep them coming back?
A well-designed website is meaningless if your customers don’t know it exists. So, once you have a great site in place, you need to have a strategy to draw attention to it. There are several easy ways to do this.
First, ask your sales reps to direct customers to your site. Customers with frequent restocking needs can save time and effort by purchasing items directly from your website. Built-in tools such as “buy again” options will make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and place orders quickly. By referring users to your e-commerce site, sales reps can improve customer satisfaction while freeing up time for other tasks.
Second, devote more marketing resources to your site. While organic marketing methods — like word-of-mouth referrals — are helpful, they don’t go that far. For your e-commerce site to have the greatest reach, you should set aside additional funds for advertising, content creation, and SEO efforts.
Third, ensure you provide an unforgettable digital shopping experience. By integrating various AI-powered tools and functions, you can help customers seamlessly navigate your website to find the products and resources they need. A superior web experience will improve your customer loyalty and lifetime value.
How will you measure success?
When creating or updating your e-commerce site, you must have a way to measure the effectiveness and success of your project. The best way to do this is to assess what percentage of your revenue flows through your website, what is your return on investment on that revenue, and how it has increased total revenue over time.
A top technology partner will have systems to measure the impact of artificial intelligence and other digital tools. For example, they’ll have data on how many people visit your e-commerce site, how various site features increase revenue, and how AI integration improves the efficiency of your marketing team. sale. If a technology vendor says they can’t measure success, start looking for other potential partners.
What questions should retailers ask their e-commerce partner?
To ensure that your e-commerce site is functional and effective, you must choose your technology partner carefully. When looking for a partner, you should have a list of questions ready to ask, including:
- Are your solutions designed for B2B purchasing?
- Have you ever created an e-commerce site for a distributor?
- Can you manage the number of references offered by my company and demonstrate it with relevant case studies?
- What is the typical lead time?
- Do you have in-depth knowledge of my sector?
- Will you continue to provide support after the initial setup?
- Who will oversee the creation/optimization of my site? How qualified are they?
How will your technology solutions improve my customers’ buying journey? For modern distributors, having an informative and easy-to-use e-commerce site is essential. Integrating artificial intelligence and other tools into your B2B buying experience will make your sales team more efficient and your customers more satisfied.
Benj Cohen founded Proton.ai to help retailers harness advanced artificial intelligence. He learned about distribution firsthand at Benco Dental, a company started by his great-grandfather. Later, while studying Applied Mathematics and Data Science at Harvard University, Cohen saw an opportunity to bring his two worlds together. Its mission is to provide retailers with the innovative technology they need to thrive in modern markets. Reach it by proton.ai.