When buyers browse a B2B website, they likely also have their favorite B2C site open in a second window—making the B2B site compete directly with what’s usually a more visual, easier-to-use and more relatable customer experience, Forrester says in a new report.

A message to B2B online sellers: If you think you can make your customers think your e-commerce site is as user-friendly as the average retail site, think again, because your customers likely have their retail site open in a second window for inevitable real-time comparisons.

That’s the message Forrester Research Inc. delivers in a report it released last week that lays out several ways a typical B2B site would lose out in a quick comparison with a typical retail site. The retail site likely sets a higher customer-experience standard, copied across multiple selling channels, that customers will expect the B2B seller to meet, the report says.

AllenBonde_ForresterResearch

Allen Bonde, vice president and research director, Forrester Research

“B2B sites that move too slowly in matching a higher B2C customer experience standard and offering a true omnichannel buying experience risk losing business to sophisticated” retail sites like Amazon.com, Forrester says in the report, “B2C Sets the Standard for B2B. Road Map: The B2B eCommerce Playbook,” by vice president and research director Allen Bonde along with other Forrester analysts.

Leading B2B sites

The report goes on to point out several online features common on retail sites that online B2B sellers need to be competitive, but it also includes examples of how leading B2B e-commerce sites—including MSCDirect.com, CDW.com and Analog Devices Inc.’s site Analog.com—are also setting standards. Among the features found on these sites are site search capable of finding product content under various phrases, how-to videos and product recommendations personalized to customers’ interests.

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The report also notes how distributor Premier Farnell operates Newark element14, a community site designed for engineers and scientists who purchase electronic components. The site provides extensive user-generated content, promotes question-and-answer discussions and drives targeted buying on the Newark.com e-commerce site.

“Early winners in the B2B space have successfully incorporated proven B2C features and functions into their B2B e-commerce shopping experiences,” Forrester says. “The key B2C best practices that B2B e-commerce professionals should be eyeing are built on personalization, interactivity and advanced search capability.”

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