Business buyers today want the same fast, convenient and personalized buying experience they have when buying online in their personalized lives. But many B2B companies haven’t yet acted on the new expectations of their customers, says Adrienne Hartman, director of ecommerce and campaign sales at J. J. Keller & Associates Inc.
“A startling number of B2B manufacturers and distributors still don’t have commerce-enabled websites,” Hartman said in a recent interview with B2BecNews, and many require interaction with a rep prior to being able to access the website. “Businesses need to be honest about evaluating if that model still works for their customers,” she said.
Hartman, who joined the company, a vendor of products and services that help companies comply with regulations and operating standards, in 2007 after serving in technology roles at Mason Company and Lands’ End, will speak at B2B Next 2019, to be held in Chicago September 30 – October 2.
In a case study presentation, “Using Digital to Integrate Multiple Businesses Under One Umbrella,” she’ll discuss how B2B companies can simplify the operation of their different brands and businesses with systems integration.
In the interview, Hartman shared some of the critical thinking that’s helped guide the company’s continuing development of ecommerce.
Q: What is driving B2B companies like J. J. Keller & Associates to expand online?
Hartman: J. J. Keller is always striving to find ways to help our customers find the safety and regulatory compliance solutions that will help their businesses succeed. By expanding our online business and adapting it to meet consumers’ expectations, we are able to continue to meet our customers where they want to do business.
Q: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?
Hartman: By providing the buying experience our customers want, we see improved customer satisfaction, along with other KPIs.
Q: What’s the biggest thing B2B companies still need to realize about ecommerce?
Hartman: While a business is paying for the purchase, the decision to purchase and from whom to purchase is made by a consumer—a consumer who has shopping expectations that are being set by the experiences that person has in their personal life. At the minimum, they want to be able to compare prices, shop any time of the day or night, access from any device, and they want a quick and easy experience.
And different buyers have different needs—maybe they need e-procurement system integration, a product finder to narrow a broad selection of items, or an easy way to re-order—you have to understand their needs to build a solution that works for them. It really isn’t one size fits all, or even as linear as a buying experience on the B2C side. Remember to treat customers like people, not just a business. It is important to listen to them and truly understand how they want and need to interact with you.
Q: What is your most valuable piece of advice for B2B companies looking to add online sales or increase them?
Hartman: Work in collaboration with the sales team to make sure that you are partners, not competitors. By working together and meeting the customer where they want to interact with you, the customer has the best experience possible and both teams can meet their goals. I’ve heard stories from colleagues at other companies where ecommerce channels are competitive to sales channels. If the teams are not empowered and incented to work together, the channel conflict can be detrimental to the overall relationship.
Registration for B2B Next 2019 is open: Click here to register.
Learn more at: B2BNext.netFavorite