With ecommerce technology having carved out a beachhead in business-to-business commerce, many suppliers are realizing that simply launching a website is not enough to satisfy buyers’ expectations for an attractive and helpful digital purchasing experience.
B2B buyers expect suppliers’ websites to be compatible with mobile devices, provide access to order history, offer custom pricing and even suggest products and services based on their purchasing history.
Operating an aging website, Transcat Inc., a supplier of measurement and testing equipment, concluded that if it was to grow sales through its digital channel, its website, Transcat.com, needed to do be more appealing to customers and easier for them to use for finding and purchasing products.
“When we looked at competitors’ sites, we realized our site was not up to par when it came to the user experience,” says Jason Thielges, manager of digital marketing.
At the time, the company’s website showed static product and pricing information and lacked scalability.
A UX for each line of business
Once Transact decided to scrap its homegrown website, it selected the Magento 2 ecommerce technology platform on which to build its new website. The first step in building the new site, Thielges says, was to create a user experience relevant to each of the company’s four business lines: new product distribution, pre-owned equipment distribution, equipment rental, and calibration services.
Next, Transcat built a middleware solution that would allow integration of Salesforce’s CRM solution and its own ERP application. The software, which uses 80% of Magento’s native built-in functionality, was jointly developed by Transcat’s information technology team and Magento engineers. By keeping customization within the middleware to a minimum, Transcat ensured a smoother path for implementing future upgrades to the website, Thielges says.
The connectivity between Transcat’s website, CRM and ERP systems allows the company to display a richer level of information than it could previously, such as inventory availability and custom pricing, Transcat says.
The new middleware application also allows Transcat to sync online and offline order data to create a single order history for its customers and provide sales and customer service representatives a single view of the customer.
Pushing up conversions with personalization
Other enhancements to the user experience include personalization, the introduction of tiered pricing and requests for price quotes. The new site also allows Transcat to package product information in new ways to increase sales. For example, a buyer looking for new network testing instruments may see also comparable pre-owned equipment or an option to rent the device. Transcat can also show buyers equipment rental options at checkout.
Transcat determines the type of cross-selling options it offers based on a buyer’s purchasing history. “If a buyer purchases a lot of equipment from us, but does not actively use our calibration services, we can promote those services at the time of purchase,” Thielges says. “This has created new ways for us to interact with customers through the web site.”
Since launching the new site, conversion rates have increased by 17.9%, average order value has increased 11.2%, mobile traffic has increased 40%, and new account registrations have grown two-fold, Transcat says.
Looking ahead, improvements on tap include the addition of self-service features, such as one-click re-ordering, subscriptions for such consumable products as batteries or test cords, local pickup of products at calibration lab locations, and the ability to set organizational hierarchy among buyers with purchasing roles and capabilities. Other future enhancements include category and SKU expansion and building out the website’s analytics capabilities.
“We knew that successfully positioning ourselves for future growth through our digital channel would be a user experience play,” Thielges says. “Now that the new site is in place, we are looking at more ways to leverage its capabilities to keep enhancing the user experience.”
Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.
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