There was a time when there was an important distinction between offline commerce and online “e” commerce. But times have changed. Research increasingly shows that creating disconnected experiences by channel negatively impacts customer experience and sales. Today’s savvy marketers are focused on delivering a satisfying, seamless, holistic experience across various customer touchpoints.
The most effective marketing professionals drive compelling commerce experiences by focusing on three key customer experience elements:
1—Reorganizing Internally to Be More Customer-Responsive
Organizations are often structured to maximize internal efficiency, drive margins, and fuel growth. This “company-centric” mindset is what often forces customers to navigate annoying menu prompts and re-authenticate account information multiple times on calls.
Successful B2B companies have long since re-engineered customer interactions to “delight” rather than frustrate. Delivering that high standard behind the scenes involves:
- Creating flexible team configurations that can adapt to situations based on customer needs.
- Empowering team members on the front lines to make split-second decisions that serve the needs of customers.
- Re-skilling and upskilling team members through innovative training to ensure a seamless customer experience across channels.
2—Producing High-Quality, Relevant Content
There was a time when marketers published vast quantities of content solely for the purpose of driving search results. But today’s marketers have pivoted to delivering content that is highly targeted and personalized. Today’s B2B buyers no longer tolerate sifting through mountains of content to discover that golden nugget of useful information.
Displaying the right content at the right time requires knowing your customers’ behaviors and preferences extremely well. The process begins with patterning and collecting intent and testing what customers see and absorb. Done correctly, the effort produces the kind of relevant, persuasive content that improves critical conversion rates.
3—Developing World-Class Technology Infrastructure
The proliferation of high-quality, relatively inexpensive technology solutions has changed the game in terms of building a technology ecosystem. Solutions from startups operating on top of industrial-strength cloud infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are as reliable and high-performing now as solutions from vendors that have been active in the space for years.
Also, due to the pervasiveness of microservices, it’s now possible to incorporate commerce components such as catalog/shopping cart, CMS (Content Management System), and even site search at a fraction of the time and cost of what it had been previously.
With all business models trending digital-first and shifting from single channel to omnichannel, B2B companies must rethink how to deliver experiences to customers. To win in today’s B2B commerce space, B2B marketers need new approaches to channels, commerce infrastructure, and content.
Gone are the days of just “build it and they will come.” The new barons of B2B ecommerce will be those who affirmatively build a world around their customers and obsess about meeting emerging needs in novel ways.
Andy Hoar is CEO of consulting firm Paradigm B2B and the co-founder of the B2B Next annual conference and technology exhibition. A former vice president and principal analyst for B2B ecommerce at global business advisory firm Forrester Research Inc., he has written about and worked with manufacturers and distributors among Fortune 100 and mid-market companies that are digitizing their direct and indirect selling initiatives. He has been quoted in such media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, B2BecNews, Bloomberg and CNBC.Favorite