A B2B NEXT panel of ecommerce experts concurs: To satisfy online buyers, start by paying attention to a buyer’s needs—and complaints.

Online B2B buyers can be a finicky bunch. Many will spend months researching a product that fits their needs, but when it comes time to purchase, if a supplier’s website doesn’t deliver the user experience they expect, 80% will take their business elsewhere.

There are a lot of complex B2B purchases, and you need all the data behind the product to be on the product page.
Mike Powers, director, ecommerce and digital marketing
Alaska Rubber Group
MikePowers-AlaskaRubberGroup

Mike Powers, director, ecommerce and digital marketing, Alaska Rubber Group

Avoiding turn offs that send buyers to competing sites, whether it’s lack of product information, difficulty navigating the site or lack of self-service options, can make the difference between landing the ecommerce sale and the buyer making that sale through a competitor, such as Amazon Business.

“Some of the smallest issues can lead to the largest problems that send buyers elsewhere,” says Brian Fricano, CEO and founder of Sustainable Supply, a provider of green building and industrial products. “Little issues that add time to a buyer’s busy day, even if it’s just five minutes, can make the buyer go elsewhere.”

The panel discussion, entitled “Top 10 Gripes of Online B2B buyers: What they Wish Sellers Knew,” took place during B2B Next 2020, an all-virtual event. During the discussion, the panel took a deep dive into many of the complaints B2B buyers have with ecommerce and how to prevent them.

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One of the biggest gripes B2B buyers have with ecommerce is the lack of product information. B2B buyers expect to see product information on a B2B supplier’s sites as good, if not better than, what a sales rep can provide.

LoriMcDonald-BrillianceBusinessSolutions

Lori McDonald, CEO, Brilliance Business Solutions

“Great digital relationships should be an extension of the sales rep,” said Lori McDonald, president and CEO of Brilliance Business Solutions, a provider of web commerce and content services.

Buyers, for example, are often looking for very specific items, and if the product detail is not there, such as whether it is the right replacement part, they can walk away disappointed, says Mike Powers, director, ecommerce and digital marketing, Alaska Rubber Group, an industrial manufacturer and distributor to multiple industries.

“There are a lot of complex B2B purchases, and you need all the data behind the product to be on the product page,” Powers said.

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In some cases, lack of product information can be failure to recommend an accessory.

Sustainable Supply CEO

Brian Fricano, CEO, Sustainable Supply Co. Inc.

Fricano said that shopping for accessories and replacement parts is a big part of what buyers expect from Sustainable Supply’s ecommerce channel. “We talk to our vendors about repair parts for specific products and make sure to list (and detail) the appropriate repair parts on our site,” he said.

Being certain the inventory count they are seeing on a supplier’s website site is in real-time is another big gripe for B2B buyers, McDonald said.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, having real-time inventory counts was tough enough; it has gotten only harder since. One solution to this problem is to display inventory in transit.

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Displaying available inventory and inventory in transit with a delivery date shows the supplier has the most up-to-date inventory information available, said McDonald.

Another way to provide a superior customer experience is to make it easier for buyers to order frequently purchased products. The goal, McDonald says, is to make it easy for the buyer to log-in and find their most frequently purchased products in a single click, rather than having to search for them.

If nothing else, B2B suppliers need to remember that the B2B purchasing environment today favors ecommerce, because more buyers are shopping online than ever. The more B2B buyers that shop online, the more those buyers expect B2C-like customer experiences, which means they will be less tolerate of B2B customer experiences that don’t measure up in their eyes, the panel members said.

Surveying buyers about their ecommerce needs, likes and dislikes about their online buying experience, and what they want, can go a long a way toward delivering a satisfying online experience to B2B buyers.

“The B2B customer experience is a continuous process,” McDonald said. “You can’t take the mindset that once you launch your ecommerce channel you’re done.”

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For more information on B2B Next, click here.

Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.  

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