Every business today knows the value of online channels, and marketplaces across the bulk of industries are now digital in natures. This means that any business yet to penetrate the digital markets of their industry are likely to be lagging behind their competitors.
Typically, B2C businesses have been quicker on the uptake than B2B businesses when it comes to creating a strong online presence. Why’s this? There are a few factors at play.
One is the dynamics of the B2B business, with personal sales reps a common feature of B2B business. Sometimes old habits die hard, and businesses who were used to dealing with B2B sales reps and had good relationships with them saw no need to fix something that wasn’t broken.
The very dynamic of a B2C business however meant that online selling was an immediately more attractive proposition. Being able to directly reach more potential customers without them needing to visit any physical location was an absolute gamechanger, and the huge proliferation in online retail on the scale that we know today is testament to this.
What’s happened in recent years however is an increasing number of B2B businesses are understanding the benefits of online retail, and how this can be adapted and applied to their own business models.
The ability to reach new customers, accurately meet their requirements with sophisticated websites that provide all the required information for purchasing, and adapting to the demands of digital marketing, customer retention and brand awareness means that the goalposts have been very much shifted for B2B businesses.
There are plenty of excellent examples of successful B2B businesses adapting beautifully to the demands of digital commerce. But there are plenty more B2B businesses who are not yet fully utilising the potential of digital channels to their fullest extent, and many more in certain parts of the world who are yet to embrace digital at all.
One of the main differentiators between successful and stagnant B2B businesses online is the strategy they adopt. Having a clearly defined, long-term, strategic approach can separate the wheat from the chafe and help a business make significant strides forwards.
In our latest blog, the Williams Commerce team has taken a look at what some of the key tenets of any B2B strategy should be.
When it comes to keeping any website safe and secure, there are a few steps that should be taken.
The first is ensuring you have an SSL certificate and your website runs through https://. https stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and is used to enable secure communication online, covering authentication, privacy and integrity for any information and shared over the internet. If there are any URLs on your website that don’t run through https:// and are not secure, make sure that it is redirected to a page that is.
This is important because there are plenty of nefarious people that will take the chance to hack your site if presented with it. Cyber criminals are out there, but securing your site in the proper way is a great way to prevent them doing the damage they’d like to.
There are also benefits of high security from an online visibility perspective. Google can detect websites without SSL certificates. So if you don’t have one, it can negatively impact your SEO rankings.
One of the reasons B2B business was slower off the mark online is likely because of payment and the vast sums that can be transferred in B2B transactions. People can often prefer to make such payments in person as a protective measure. But you can set customer minds at ease by having secure payment gateways and being compliant with the highest protocol standards in this area.
These are all significant trust factors that will allow businesses to feel comfort when shopping on your website.
Speed is an important factor for any website, and slow websites have high bounce and exit rates. That’s the last thing you want when it comes to thriving in the world of digital commerce.
Speed is also a factor Google includes in its SEO rankings, so a slow site can mean you don’t have the web visibility you would like.
Tools such as GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights help you make any changes that might enhance the speed of your website. These tools provide recommendations that can help you quickly cut out small problems and make sure that the speed of your site reach the requisite levels.
Good imagery on your site more often than not lead to strong sales. Having high quality images present on your site helps in converting users into leads.
When it comes to B2B website design, look to be creative with the images you use and avoid having just one product image where possible. It’s always better to show pictures in-situ so a buyer can see what the product looks like in different angles and positions. This gives a better feel for the item they are considering and lowers the chances of them being disappointed, which will in turn remove problems coming in down the line.
Buyers are no longer exclusively sat at desktop computers in an office when they are making purchasing decisions. Sometimes they are of course, but the modern world of meetings, travel and convenience means that buying can take place on laptops, tablets and mobile devices just as frequently.
This means that having a website that is responsive is key. This means that ensuring your website is geared for usage on everything from the big screens of a desktop to tiny mobile screens helps with improving the B2B website UX you are able to deliver.
If you’re not sure about the responsiveness of your site at present, you can use the Google mobile-friendly test tool to see if your website is suited for use on mobile devices. You will quickly be able to see if there is any room for improvement.
B2B buyers want a good navigation system, and an index that allows them to get from A to B quickly on your website. But having a quality search function is also important, as this can speed up how quickly a user can view exactly the kind of product they’re there to buy.
A tool like Klevu for example can work wonders on a B2B site. Klevu is an intelligent personalised search engine that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing to deliver rich, accurate search results to site visitors.
What's more, there’s evidence that indicates that site searchers are 200% more likely to convert. So giving them this option really is a no-brainer.
Deliver a personalised experience
Personalisation is not just for a B2C phenomenon, but can certainly work in the B2B space too. Gaining an understanding of the kind of products and lines your customers are interested in is important as you can streamline the process and have them ordering in no time.
You can also recommend products based on their order history, or what other sellers have been purchasing. This can create opportunities for them to expand their product offering – meaning you become more than just a supplier, you start to help them increase their own profits.
Choose the right web development and marketing team
To take your B2B website to new levels, having an experienced partner to guide on strategy and highlight where you can improve and invest is very worthwhile.
Williams Commerce has vast experience of working with companies in this sector and helping them established a solid approach to marketing strategy for B2B.
We don’t work in silos, and you gain access to a team of developers, qualified project managers and experienced digital marketers and strategists.
We also have a fantastic range of partnerships with companies like Magento, BigCommerce, Klevu and many more.
To start your journey towards a better B2B future based on strong strategy, get in touch with the Williams Commerce team today.