In this series, we’re reviewing the six most common mistakes B2B companies make when setting up their eCommerce experiences. In part one, we discussed the need for a strong customer focus and how companies can leverage flexible solutions to accommodate their customers’ needs.
Here, we’re looking at mistake number two: failing to address product gaps.
Many companies struggle with product gaps in their platforms. A product gap simply refers to features or functionality missing from the product or product selection or a market segment that your business is not yet serving but should be. In addition, the sheer scale of product catalogs in B2B eCommerce leaves room for a lot of information to fall through the cracks. This can be anything from incomplete product descriptions to making it difficult for customers to actually find and purchase a product you’re selling. In our experience, many stores have large product catalogs but aren’t accomplishing much in terms of actually selling those products. And they may wonder why. All the data points are there and the products are available – why aren’t customers buying?
There are several possible causes. It’s possible that the product catalog has a complete set of information, but it isn’t what customers need to easily find the products they want. . Rich product data uploaded to an integrated eCommerce platform is how customers find items, and without it, your products may get lost in the shuffle.
There could also be key product offerings missing from your store. For example, a B2B auto parts manufacturer may sell engine parts, fuel pumps, and more to local dealerships. This manufacturer may also want to sell add-ons that need to be replaced frequently as a way to earn additional ongoing revenue:
However, customers in the manufacturer’s area may prefer to purchase these parts from a local aftermarket dealer rather than an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). If so, the OEM needs to find a way to incentivize these purchases, either by bundling replacement parts at a discount or even offering hassle-free subscription commerce options that keep inventory levels high.
The idea behind identifying product gaps is to think long-term about the customer experience and how you can build trust and engagement with your product catalog. Each product you produce and publish for sale in your eCommerce platform is an investment, and you can’t afford to invest in items that never get sold.
Referring back to our initial problem – not having the right user experience in place to drive customers to your products – companies need to get a handle on their eCommerce data to boost visibility. But not just any strategy will do the trick. Companies need an intelligent product focus that drives traffic to the right on-site listing or category pages at the right time.
The problem is that many companies neglect this optimization process, thinking that standard SEO tactics will be enough to drive traffic on-site. In our experience as an eCommerce provider, companies invest too much time into building SEO acquisition channels.
SEO is a notoriously tricky area to optimize, with highly competitive rankings and much variability to account for. Customers often describe products differently than sellers, and when there’s too much variance in terminology, it detracts from SEO value.
Boosting product focus to drive traffic outside of traditional SEO can be a tricky goal, but with the right eCommerce platform behind you, solutions are easier to implement than they might seem.
The above mistakes can be addressed with one simple question: Do the customer’s purchasing expectations line up with their actual experience?
This is the fundamental problem with setting up a haphazard eCommerce store without much thought for how products coordinate or how the site is built. In most cases, your eCommerce store won’t be optimal right after launch. You’ll need to undergo an optimization process where you refine your product libraries and web layouts to support your market’s preferences.
This is why flexible eCommerce platforms such as headless commerce are so effective. You can read more about the benefits of headless commerce here, but for now, note that headless commerce platforms subvert the need for tightly coupled eCommerce architecture.
When the platform’s front and backends are connected, companies are forced into configurations that restrict how they sell. Obviously, this isn’t ideal.
Every company has its own products, strategies, and unique selling points. Headless commerce solutions offer flexibility in how storefronts are set up to accommodate each of your company’s unique features. It also opens the doors to adding in new functions that help create the “intelligent” product focus detailed above.
With headless, your company can match your product catalog directly to your databases and extend it out to your storefront. This connection supports eCommerce efficiency by removing the intermediary layer from the infrastructure. By doing so, you create a direct content management system (CMS) connection between your consumer-facing storefront and your backend data, making it easier to create up-to-date and flexible experiences.
This approach also makes it easier to add customized product merchandising capabilities (such as subscription commerce) and unique selling pages throughout your frontend. Any time you launch a new product or want to push a new promotion, it’s easy to set up a new page or microsite to support that specific selling goal.
Further, these tools offer other control options, such as complex filtering based on unique datasets or product catalog customizations you’ve added. Taken together, these tools let you set up specific and intentional commerce experiences that not only align with what your customers expect but support their shopping experience and make it easy for them to come back for more.
Failing to address product gaps may be a common mistake in B2B eCommerce, but the challenge doesn’t need to go unanswered. Equip yourself with the tools you need to get proactive with your customer experience.
Slatwall Commerce is a modern headless commerce platform and our team of experienced experts can show you how to build a system that creates complete alignment between customer expectations and outcomes. Visit our site to learn more!