Creating Personalized B2B eCommerce Buyer and Seller Interactions

One of the fastest and most powerful ways to drive sales, profit and loyalty is with personalized shopping experiences. This is especially true in B2B, where buyers need to procure items quickly, and seek to avoid an experience that is complex and lengthy. In a study conducted by Harvard Business School, companies could increase their profits by almost 95% just by retaining 5% more customers than they currently do. Data show personalized user experiences increase customer retention, especially when they leverage how customers shop for products and services, connect to predictions and recommendations on relevant content, and navigate to areas of a website the user frequents.

What is a personalized B2B experience? Here are some great places to start: Account Dashboards, Catalogs, Search, Pricing, as well as Order and Fulfillment. All are opportunities to leverage customer data and enhance a customer-centric user experience that drives sales and loyalty.

Account Dashboards

The account dashboard is a natural starting point – it's where users are greeted by name, and given quick links to invoices, payment methods and shopping lists. They can also find their sales representative’s contact information to submit orders or quotes for approval and easily get questions answered. Payment methods, preferred fulfillment methods and other resources can be stored here for easy access. A personalized Account Dashboard helps make a customer feel like it is his or her own online store. Mayer Electric is a great example of a company that successfully personalizes their user experience. Mayer gives customers a robust and personalized account dashboard upon login that provides them with easy access to current orders, invoices and wish lists, so that users don’t have to spend much time seeking out their important account documents.

Product Catalogs

Product Catalogs in the B2B world are lengthy and complex, and it can be daunting for users. Given the thousands of products, each with multiple part numbers, variants and other product-specific qualities it can become cumbersome for users to sort through thousands of products to find the few they need. Personalization improves the browsing experience for users by showing or hiding products based on account types or account permissions to provide better product filtering. Personalization may even take the form of customer-specific product catalogs, critically important where separation is required for regulatory compliance. Finally, location can be tied to product catalogs to show warehouse-specific inventory, or products that may be of interest to one geographical area or group.

Search

If customers are looking for new items outside of their usual orders or shopping lists, personalized search is essential. The search feature should be so fine-tuned that customers can quickly find products by product titles, categories, brand or even manufacturer and/or inventory numbers. For example, a buyer looking to purchase cable and wiring for a new office build will need to 1) easily find dozens if not more different variations and cuts of cable, 2) add it to a list and 3) submit a request for quote on the total cost. Reducing search time will improve his or her overall user experience and likely increase loyalty for future orders.

And taking a play from big data and machine learning, Intelligent search, or search that is based on Artificial Intelligence looks at common groupings or patterns. You can take search functionality one step further to leverage aggregated data and typical order patterns, which can also reduce steps in the search process for customers.  

Pricing and Availability

Personalized pricing in B2B is not always simple but it may be one of the most beneficial investment areas. Personalized Pricing is an odd concept, but Personalization in B2B pricing is essentially this: providing your customer with the contracted and negotiated price across product groups and categories. However, the key factor may not be the lowest price, and that’s where availability comes in.

B2B customers (buyers) care about finding the right item(s) at the right price and at the right availability, that is tied to a specific job. Pricing can be vastly different from one customer to another based on vendor/manufacturer contracts, market demand, quantity purchased and availability. A dynamic pricing feature that can accommodate specialty pricing will make it easier for B2B customers to stay within their budgets, allow for transparency, and eliminate the time needed to interact with a sales representative. It will also likely boost profitability if done well, especially if it spans multiple stakeholders, systems and moments in time in the form of Personalized Quotes.

Ordering and Fulfillment

Personalizing the ordering and fulfillment methods for your customers is another way to ensure customer loyalty and retention. Personalization can help simplify the logistics of packaging, shipping, and tracking an order when a customer’s unique data is already in the system making it turnkey for activation. In addition, delivering orders to a customer-specific warehouse ensures a more efficient and timely order fulfillment. Likewise, allowing customers to connect their business accounts to freight carriers like FedEx or UPS can help extend personalization as they likely already receive personalized pricing from these carriers.

Personalization is an Imperative

When organizations invest in personalization, they are investing in customer loyalty and satisfaction and ultimately, lifetime value. Since 74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized, in an extremely competitive marketplace, organizations can easily increase their market share, sales and profitability simply by taking the time to leverage data that customers already provide. It’s a great way to continue two-way dialogue and show you are attentively anticipating their needs.  With years of experience in B2B digital commerce, Xngage can help guide you in this imperative, and show your organization how to go from a data-driven to a data-led organization, supported through relevant, personalized, and contextualized experiences.

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