Now that the pandemic has pushed consumers further into online retail purchasing, many of those same consumers who double as B2B buyers have higher expectations for B2C-like ease of online buying. B2B companies should seize this opportunity to upgrade their site designs to stand out and attract these buyers, writes Justin Racine, director, commerce strategy, at digital agency Perficient.

JustinRacine

Justin Racine

I’m not quite exactly sure how, but 2022 is less than three short months away, and with that perspective, so much has changed over the last two years. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into the plans of businesses small and large from B2C to B2B.

Take a deep dive into your data and analytics. Look for trends around visitor bounce and exit rates.

Now more than ever, consumers are expecting exceptional experiences in ALL digital touchpoints that they interact with, and this has a massive impact for B2B organizations that leverage digital commerce, let me explain why.

Here’s what happened.

  • When the pandemic hit early in 2020, consumers could not purchase in store the items they typically needed, so they turned online.
  • In doing so, they bought products that they traditionally never purchased online, . exposing to new digital experiences.
  • Digital retailers became aware of the increased traffic, revenue, and expectations these consumers had and decided to build out new experiences and workflows to support this increase (hings like buy online, pick up curbside, increased inventory transparency, auto re-order functionality and, most importantly, newly refreshed site designs)

So, how does this all apply to B2B?

Here’s how: the consumers mentioned above have jobs, and some of their jobs are to purchase from B2B organizations. Their expectations of an easy and helpful B2B online buying journey have changed because of their personal buying experiences, and they now are looking for their day-job experiences to be similar.

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This is extremely important if you’re a B2B organization that is selling digitally. Let me explain why.

Sure, price is always important within the B2B arena, but what causes someone to look elsewhere to purchase the products they need for their business? Typically, some sort of dissonance occurs. They have a bad experience with a sales rep, the delivery truck shows up late, there is a shortage of product—and now, the ordering experience on the B2B portal is lacking compared to their expectations.

Picture this: A B2B buyer is on your ecommerce site trying to shop, but your on-site design has not been updated in a few years. Your customer has been exposed to newly re-designed and refreshed digital ordering experiences in their own personal life on retail sites and wonders why your B2B ordering portal doesn’t look and function the same way.. This B2B buyer then thinks: “This site really doesn’t flow and function the way I want, maybe there is a better way for me to buy my products elsewhere”

As a B2B business, it’s your job to NEVER allow your customer to have thoughts like the one mentioned above. If your customer starts down this path of thinking, it opens the door for them to look elsewhere. So, can this be prevented? Of course, and here are some suggestions:.

Make your B2B ordering portals design a priority in 2022.

If you’re on a legacy platform and are planning to re-platform, make sure the user experience and design is a priority in your re-platform. If you’re not planning a re-platform and are happy with your technology stack, make user experience and design a priority. Whatever your situation is, make user experience and design your top priority!

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Here are some ways to begin your online buying experience re-design journey for 2022:

  • Current state analysis—Take a deep dive into your data and analytics. Look for trends around visitor bounce and exit rates. Talk with your customers and your employees to see if there are pain points around current customer experiences that need fixing.
  • CMS analysis—If there are pain points, look at the front-end technology of your ordering portal. Is the CMS (Content Management System) that supports your B2B ordering portal up to par? Will it allow you to build and extend the platform to fit the needs of your customers and sales folks?

Map out your future—If your CMS isn’t up to par, explore the various solutions that exist to see what will best fit your needs. Can a new CMS bolt on to your existing technology stack? If not, explore the opportunity to re-platform your ordering portal to a solution that will fit your needs today, but allow you to scale for tomorrow.

Sun Tzu, the great Chinese military strategist, once said, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” The total chaos of this pandemic may be mostly over, but the chaos it has created still lingers. Focusing on great customer experiences for your B2B portal is an opportunity that chaos has given you. seize this opportunity to dazzle your customers with experiences so good they become the benchmark for both their personal and professional standards,

And you will set up your business for success in 2022 and beyond.

Justin Racine is director, commerce strategy, at Perficient, a digital technology and services agency focused on digital transformation. He is a former director of ecommerce and marketing at distributor Geriatric Medical and Surgical Supply Inc. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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