B2B sellers can provide a better online experience by defining “customer personas,” or profiles, that can help them identify the priorities of individual personas and tailor the eCommerce experience to meet their needs, one online seller noted in a recent commentary.
Traditionally, B2B companies have tended to view customers as entities instead of as individuals. As such, they can discredit the importance of a personal shopping experience, BookPal President Tony DiCostanzo noted in the commentary in PaymentWeek.com.
In the commentary piece, DiCostanzo posed the question of what would happen if the seller shifted the thought process from solely providing a solid price point to providing a quality, personal experience as well? In his view, when sellers take time to engage customers and help them make purchase decisions conveniently and confidently, the results have been proven to be positive.
‘Purchasers’ versus ‘consumers’
Indeed, seeing customers as simply purchasers and not as consumers is one of the most common and expensive mistakes a B2B seller can make. Instead, they should adopt a business-to-consumer (B2C) perspective if they are to be successful at retaining customers in the ling term, DiCostanzo said.
“The customer experience in a B2B environment is just as important as the customer experience in the B2C market,” DiCostanzo said. “As B2B purchasing online is becoming the norm, sellers can’t afford to put the B2B online experience at the bottom of their priority list.”
According to DiCostanzo, online B2B revenue is rapidly catching up with B2C eCommerce revenue, with B2B expected to reach $800 billion to $1 trillion in 2014. As such, this is creating a “paradigm shift that provides exciting opportunities for online sellers ahead of this shift to either take advantage of it, or fall behind as their competitors embrace the growing online B2B opportunity,” he said in the PaymentWeek.com commentary.
As many of their B2C counterparts already do, B2B sellers should constantly use testing strategies to improve website performance using tools such as Optimizely, which allows staff to edit text, images, colors and arrangement, DiCostanzo said.
“With these changes in place, B2B sellers will be able to compare the modified page’s performance to the original by showing each page to different visitors to see which one performs best,” he said. “Providing a B2B experience that lives up to what customers have grown accustomed to with leading B2C sites not only benefits the consumer, it also has a tangible payoff for the company through increased conversions and lifts in average order value.”
It’s important for B2B sellers to identify the positive and negative experiences customers have when shopping online, DiCostanzo added. They should ask such questions as, What do I want as a buyer? What frustrates customers? Is the website clear? Is it engaging and presentable? Is it easy to navigate? he said.
Wants and needs
“From there, sellers can begin to understand what their customer groups want and need,” DiCostanzo said.
Results of a Forrester study released last fall that found that, while 48 percent of surveyed B2B executives though their websites were as good as or better than their online B2B competitors’, they didn’t view think their sites compared well to the ease of shopping on B2C such sites like Amazon.com. In fact, 48 percent of participants said their websites performed worse than B2C sites in terms of customer experience. As such, 67 percent of these B2B sellers had planned to increase their technology budgets to develop the B2C features and boost mobile efforts needed to compete.”
“B2B customers are more likely to build long-term relationships with a seller if the overall customer experience is positive,” DiCostanzo wrote. “However, attention to the B2B user experience tends to fall short. To build a solid presence in this new environment, B2B companies can learn a great deal from their B2C counterparts.”