Metric insights = merchant opportunities. As B2B buyers increase their expectations of ecommerce sites, online sellers need to understand how well their sites are performing in meeting those expectations.

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Lauren Freedman

In ecommerce’s infancy, merchants often made decisions based on their gut, as information to guide their planning was scarce. Of course, as the years progressed, significant advancements developed in e-commerce analytics and business-to-consumer sellers could leverage that information to make smarter decisions and improve the user experience for customers.

Today, buyer expectations are higher than ever before and data is required to deliver against these promises. Smart sellers leverage analytics to provide a better customer experience. This knowledge can be used to personalize the shopping experience, putting forth the right products and merchandising along the path to purchase. Knowing the customer ensures that conversion rates trend up, with sellers turning the appropriate levers based on B2BecNews conducted an online survey of B2B buyers in December, 2018. Participants represented a cross-section of 60 buyers, where 58% of their firms had over $10 million in sales. 31% of respondents’ firms realized B2B web sales penetration of over $10 million. One would expect, given this cross-section of companies, that analytics might just be more readily employed.

B2B sellers are embracing selling across a myriad of channels. Understanding the performance of each from a variety of vantage points should be seen as the goal. Given the trajectory of analytics in the B2C world, I can only surmise that it’s not a lack of valuing the information but rather that it is not yet part of the culture of most B2B companies.

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Shopping frequency is strong giving B2B sellers many opportunities as they report that one in three buyers place orders weekly or more often, and three out of four buyers place orders at least monthly, making for an active buyer base. All the more reason to take advantage of their aggressive browsing and buying behavior to present the most appropriate experience using analytics as the foundation.

Sellers appear to be split between the newbies and the more sophisticated, which is reflected in their use of performance metrics, particularly conversion via desktop and mobile, and likely is seen in the knowledge of these metrics.

Measuring conversion rates is top-of-mind for the majority of sellers (55%). One in three also measure customer actions including engagement, form completion and product downloads. Yet many other metrics see much lower interest as was confirmed by the fact that one in four sellers are not measuring any of the noted KPIs.

When asked, “On a scale of one to 10 where 10 is most important, how important is knowing your conversion rate relative to running your business?” sellers rated knowing their conversion rate at least an “8” on a 10-point importance scale. In fact one in three sellers rate the importance of knowing their conversion rate a top score of 10.

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The striking issue, which is the foundation of this post, is the knowledge that doesn’t exist within many of these organizations. Unfortunately, many B2B sellers are unaware of their performance metrics, and this certainly poses problems for sellers looking to advance their performance and build a roadmap that emanates from information. We all know that limited knowledge of metrics may make managing business more challenging. Of course, one can accept that it might be difficult to ascertain more complex metrics, but the basics including conversion rates, abandonment and channels from which orders emanate would seem to be more readily available. Just the mere fact that one in three sellers surveyed didn’t know their desktop conversion should serve as a starting point to jumpstart these efforts.

B2B sellers can and should be better. I recommend that B2B sellers make it a priority to know their numbers. The nuances that can be understood and the ability to effect positive change should certainly be improved under those circumstances. One can only anticipate the upside that will be realized from optimizing the user experience. Everyone wins from the seller to the shopper when analytics are part of the equation.

Lauren Freedman is president of the e-tailing group, a research and advisory firm covering B2B and retail e-commerce.

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