Michael Mayer, Crescent’s director of e-business strategy and commerce, shared the four key aspects that helped the almost 100-year-old Crescent get a better handle on B2B e-commerce. Speaking at the B2B Workshop at the 2016 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this week, he said content generation, website and mobile functionality, creating paths of least resistance for customers and providing and receiving employee support generated results. The B2B Workshop was attended by several hundred people, including executives, managers and technology professionals from manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
Mayer said rewriting product content received from suppliers helps to get Crescent recognized by Google search crawlers, directing more users to its e-commerce site, Cesco.com. He added that making it easier for customers to interact with a mobile app helps to drive up online orders, and that streamlining site search increases the online conversion rate .
Crescent employees also proved essential to the company’s e-commerce success, Mayer said. “When we first rolled out in October 2013, we focused our marketing on the customer. We used fliers, cold calls and snail mail telling them we had a new website—and we pretty much fell on our face,” he said.
After an unsuccessful first year online, Crescent changed gears and taught its employees how to help customers shop online. Mayer traveled across the country to meet with Crescent’s sales staff, which helped him get a better sense of what the sales team needed to be successful.
When Crescent first started selling online, its sales staff received no commission for orders placed online. “Sales reps were initially neglected when we rolled out our B2B platform in 2013. We completely cut commissions, and that didn’t go over so well,” Mayer said. The sales staff pushed back by telling customers not to use the website—and because the customers had an existing relationship with these sales reps, the customers agreed, he said.
“The inside sales staff services the customer every day, they have these pre-existing relationships with the customers and they have all the knowledge of our company,” he said. “We had to course-correct quickly.”
Crescent implemented a “web commission pool” in which the customers are grouped by their locations; as online orders arrive, sales reps associated with the customer’s location now get a commission for the sale.
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