The first and second posts in this series covered the importance of having a strong customer focus and how to address product gaps with smarter eCommerce architecture. Another common pitfall in our series of B2B eCommerce mistakes is mishandling the ordering process. This is a big area of inefficiency that retailers can’t afford to neglect. Customers order online because it’s convenient, but just how easy are you making it for those buyers, really?
Simply having an online storefront isn’t enough. B2B retailers need to meet their customers where they live and create flexible, customized ordering experiences that show off their products without adding too much complexity into the process. And as time goes on, this type of experience will only get more important for B2B eCommerce success.
B2B might be slower to change than B2C, but don’t let this trend muddy the waters in how important digital ordering has become.
For example, there are still many traditional buyers out there in the B2B world used to picking up the phone and placing an order directly with a sales rep. However, the newer generations are moving away from this trend and prioritizing digital channels that make ordering as simple, streamlined, and hands-off as possible.
According to research, B2B orders placed through digital channels are growing even faster than they are in the B2C sector, increasing 18.2% from 2017 to 2018. These days, with digital adoption taking hold, it’s fair to assume that online ordering is here to stay.
In many cases, these customers prefer digital-first and digital-only; meaning that you’re creating purchase barriers when asking them to follow-up with a call or contact process outside of that digital channel.
Of course, direct ordering may never go away entirely, but as time goes on, more and more customers will prefer to do their business online. And as they do, companies will need to rethink and reorganize how they facilitate online transactions.
As was the case with the first two mistakes in our eCommerce series, your commerce platform can come to the rescue by giving you the means to create whatever type of experience makes sense for your selling goals.
For example, a common pitfall in online ordering is failing to differentiate between customers who place repeat orders and those ordering for the first time.
To help address this issue, business teams should ask themselves whether they have the right tools and tasks in place to segment each of these customers and address their needs.
A clear challenge for some eCommerce businesses is in product catalog flexibility. Some systems may force your team to conform your product listings to pre-set templates or structures that don’t make sense for your library, or lack specific categories outright. (Such as subscription commerce options for recurring orders.)
In these cases, something as simple as finding a more flexible platform can yield great benefits for the business.
Look for solutions that allow you to match your product catalog to the database and extend it out for your business. Development teams should have full freedom to adapt the user interface to align with new needs or opportunities, as identified by your marketing team.
This type of flexibility used to be rare, but these days, it’s quite common – particularly in headless commerce platforms that are built from the ground up to be lightweight and functional. Any commerce platform that doesn’t provide this creative flexibility isn’t worth your time.
Another way your platform can help is to provide customization freedom. Think of the possibilities when your platform has customized product merchandising capabilities and unique selling pages throughout your storefront’s front-end. Any time you want to test a new product, promotion, or offer, it’s easy to set up unique pages that capture usage data and provide granular insight into your customers’ reactions.
This type of freedom isn’t easy to find with out-of-the-box commerce systems; in most cases, some customization or bootstrapping is necessary. But what if you had a commerce system that offered complete freedom in design flexibility?
This is a core benefit of headless commerce systems. With headless platforms, flexibility is easy to achieve through a streamlined integration between your commerce engine and content management system (CMS). By doing so, you’ll have a completely flexible build that’s quick to launch and doesn’t require extensive customization work.
Additionally, your platform should offer control over complex filtering, based on your datasets and product catalog customizations. In simple terms, this is all about giving your customers the means to find the products they want without undue effort or frustration.
As your product catalogs grow in size and scale, this type of feature will become essential for preserving the user experience. Ordering is all about simplicity. The less work you ask your customers to do, the more likely it is they’ll follow through. Work within your backend commerce system to deploy complex filtering criteria that make it easy for shoppers to find what they need.
The ordering process is an essential part of your sales pipeline. However, many companies neglect this aspect, assuming that other efforts like lead generation are more important – and that customers at the ordering stage are already “in the bag.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Your ordering process is the finish line. Don’t let an unoptimized ordering process trip your customers up right before they’re about to buy. For most businesses, the easiest way to master the ordering process is to find a commerce system that provides complete control and freedom over how products are displayed. This is the easiest way to create the type of personalized experiences that modern B2B buyers expect.
Contact us at Slatwall to learn more about how a headless commerce solution can benefit your business.