In this first of a 5-part series on B2B ecommerce success strategies, Kristina Harrington, president and chief operating officer of GenAlpha Technologies, lays out critical steps for a rewarding B2B digital commerce experience.

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Kristina Harrington

When it comes to ecommerce — and B2B ecommerce success — there are really two key stakeholders. There are the customers who buy products and services online, and the businesses responsible for selling the products and services online. Both have their own goals. Buyers in an industrial equipment setting are looking for a faster, safer, and easier way to do their job. Ecommerce sellers are looking to improve customer loyalty through greater customer satisfaction and ultimately increase market share and revenue online.

Step 1 to B2B ecommerce success: Define the customer journey

To achieve both of these goals, an essential first step for any ecommerce investment is to map the various customer journeys when using your online store. Before long-term B2B ecommerce success can be achieved, it’s critical to understand who your customer is (all the various personas) and why they’re coming to your site.

As an organization, have you answered these three critical questions?

  • What are you offering that no one else can?
  • Why should your customers care?
  • Who are those customers?

If not, now is a good time to start.

A good idea when trying to understand your customers is to put yourself in their shoes. 85% of business buyers believe the experience a company provides is as important as its products. So, one way to provide that is to think about how they find a product on your site. What details do they typically have when they begin a search for information on your site?  It’s easy when they have an exact product number or description, but what happens if all they have is a serial number, model number, or a product category? Maybe they are just looking for a certain brand.


Being able to anticipate the different ways customers will come to your site and then providing them a path to what they’re looking for, no matter how they’re looking for it, is a key feature of an industrial products ecommerce site.

Beyond thinking about search and product identification, there are several questions when you think about each customer persona.

Consider the following:

  • What are their responsibilities?
  • What are their goals and challenges?
  • What do they need to make their job easier?
  • What do they expect from a digital experience?
  • Why do they buy from you?
  • What is all the information they need from you to make a purchasing decision?
  • What devices do they use?
  • Are there any additional customer personas you seek to attract? If yes, where are they, and what do they need to make a purchase?

Understanding your customer is more than just thinking about a transaction; it’s understanding all the types of information they may be looking for in a self-service portal and then giving it to them in the easiest way possible. Achieving all of this may not be possible at first launch. The key to this and overall B2B ecommerce success is to prioritize according to business objectives, launch, learn and then adjust or complete the remaining priorities. Remember this is an iterative process. Customer needs will evolve, and, over time, your ecommerce solution should evolve as well.

As the adoption of ecommerce accelerates, customers increasingly expect to find what they’re looking for quickly, accurately, and easily. If a site isn’t able to meet those expectations, customers have more options available to them than ever before. Creating an efficient purchasing experience can separate a site from the competition, and buyers have proven to reward businesses for this experience.


About the author

Kristina Harrington is the president and chief operating officer at GenAlpha Technologies, which provides digital commerce technology for manufacturers. Prior to joining GenAlpha, Kris worked for more than 10 years in leadership positions at two large multinational original equipment manufacturers, Bucyrus International and Caterpillar, supporting the mining industry. In her various positions, she worked with internal stakeholders, dealers, and customers to deliver business results both in aftermarket and equipment sales. She can be reached at [email protected].

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