B2B Ecommerce Adoption Strategies
In today’s digital-first world, launching your eCommerce store isn’t enough. You won’t start seeing SAP B2B eCommerce ROI until you shift some portion of your sales to eCommerce. You need to educate your customers on the benefits of using your eCommerce site. It all starts with awareness.
Luckily, building awareness (and turning it into adoption) is easier than you might think. In this article, we’ll talk about 7 steps you can take today to drive eCommerce adoption.
Step 1: Define your business objective
Defining the business objective is crucial. What are you aiming for? What growth rate do you want to see in your eCommerce adoption? It’s important to choose a goal that is specific, measurable, and attainable, and that dovetails with your other business objectives.
For example, if you have low eCommerce adoption across all customer segments, you may define your goal as “increasing eCommerce adoption by 50% within the next 90 days.” It’s critical to add a time element so you can define specific strategies to achieve the goal.
Or, you may want to increase eCommerce adoption among a specific customer segment that offers you the greatest cost savings if they move to eCommerce. In that case, you may define your business objective as something like, “increase eCommerce adoption by 20% among SMB contractors within the next 90 days.”
Step 2: Define the marketing objective
Next, you need to define the marketing objective that supports the business objective. To increase adoption, you need to increase awareness of the eCommerce solution among the existing user base—especially if there’s a large percentage of people who aren’t using the site.
Here, if there are any sub-segments of the user base that you want to reach, it’s important to break them out and look at their needs individually. For example, if you’re trying to increase adoption across all the board, you should separate them into segments depending on their eCommerce status. You might break them out into buckets like these:
- Lukewarm: Customers who have received the email invitation to sign up, have registered, and have used the site under 5 times.
- Cold: Customers who have received the email invitation to sign up, have registered, and have used the site once (or have never even logged in).
- Unreached: Customers who haven’t received the email invitation and/or haven’t even heard about the eCommerce site.
Once you’ve segmented your customers based on their eCommerce journeys, you should define a marketing objective that fits each stage of the journey:
- Lukewarm and cold customers: Explain the benefits of eCommerce on a level that makes sense to the user and offer a new incentive for returning to the eCommerce site.
- Unreached: Introduce them to the new eCommerce site. Create a favorable first impression, and offer an incentive to use the site.
Step 3: Define strategies that support the marketing objective
Once you’ve defined the marketing objective for each segment, you can develop concrete strategies to reach those segments. With the right messaging, you can use each of these strategies for any stage of the eCommerce journey.
Here are specific strategies you can use to reach your customer segments:
- Create an email nurture campaign to inactive users. Write a positive, approachable email that offers an incentive. Free shipping is the most popular incentive, but you can also offer a promotional product, a discount, or similar.
- Provide educational opportunities throughout the site so the customer sees the value in the site the moment they log in. You can use things like tool tips and walk-through guides to educate customers. These features are especially helpful for sophisticated functionality like cart management.
- Offer incentives through your CSRs to customers who haven’t adopted eCommerce. Some people do best with person-to-person communication. You might even want a proactive outreach by salespeople for specific customers segments–literally hold their hand through the adoption process. Your CSRs offer you the opportunity to reach these customers with a personal touch and 1:1 assistance where necessary.
Step 4: Create content to support each strategy
Content will make or break your adoption strategies. You need to explain the benefits of eCommerce, offer a real incentive, and hit the right tone.
Some segments will need content that is specifically tailored to their place in the eCommerce journey. Generalized content will work for other segments. For example:
- The user who has never logged in to the eCommerce store can receive a general email explaining the benefits which eCommerce brings them (24x7x365 self service ordering, electronic payments, and more).
- The maintenance technician who orders replacement parts can receive a personalized email from a CSR. This email can explain how eCommerce facilitates a personalized catalog of replacement parts related to the technician’s machines.
- The procurement manager who routinely reorders the same products can receive an email explaining how eCommerce allows 1-click reordering through saved carts.
At this point, it’s good to introduce A/B testing. For each message flow you create, build two versions and vary the messaging. When you go to launch your campaign, you can track which version performs better.
Your content touchpoints should be educational. Here, it’s crucial to adopt the customer’s perspective. What benefit does the site offer—not to you, but to your customer? Sit at the customer’s desk and understand the struggles they face at work every day. How will this site make life better for them? If you can’t communicate those reasons to your customers, they won’t use the eCommerce site.
It’s best to use real-life illustrations to make these points. For example, “manage carts” is a sophisticated function in the Corevist app. It allows you to save multiple carts.
Here’s how it works. Say one of your customers is a distributor of respiratory equipment. Every 2 months, this customer restocks on tubing, masks, and filters. You can make life easier for the customer’s procurement manager if you explain how to save a cart for that standard reorder. You can even name the cart—“Tubing, Masks, and Filter Reorder.” Now, when the procurement manager logs in to the site, she can open that saved cart and activate an order identical to her last one.
Specific, applied benefits like this go a long way to increasing eCommerce adoption. It’s crucial that your adoption campaign content illustrate benefits that your customers can actually use to make life easier.
Step 5: Launch your eCommerce adoption drive
Once everything is in place—incentive, website content, automated email content, and any supporting blog posts—you can launch your adoption campaign.
It’s important to monitor your campaign with relevant tools, such as:
- Mailchimp (or similar email list tool), where you can track open rate and click-through rate.
- Analytics tools like Google Analytics or Full Story, where you can track onsite behavior of customers.
- Your eCommerce admin, where you can track sales growth within your eCommerce channel.
Step 6: Adjust as necessary and repeat
You’ll notice patterns in the response to your campaign, as well as outliers. You’ll want to analyze the different types of responses that you see.
- Say a subset of users opened an email, but they didn’t click through to the site. Why not? Now you can A/B test with a follow-up message to this subset. Try one message with half of the group, and another message with the other half. Which message performs better? Use that message in the future for similar follow-ups.
- Say another subset of users never even opened the emails. What’s going on? Do we have the wrong email address? Have we targeted a person in the wrong department? It’s also possible that the person left the company.
- Some users may open the email, click through to the site, make a purchase, and come back less than 5 times. You can reach out to these users with a survey. Ask them why they didn’t use the site more often. Is the competition better? Are they used to using EDI? Do they prefer to call a salesperson? Their responses can give you the intelligence you need to serve them better through eCommerce.
Step 7: Put a limit on the number of automated contacts
It’s an exception to the rule, but sometimes, a valid user simply doesn’t respond to any automated contacts. Now you have to get personal. You need to pick up the phone and inquire. If they’re not even opening the emails, there must be something going on. Your customer will appreciate the personal touch, and you’ll learn valuable information on individual responses to your eCommerce launch.
It’s important to have these touchpoints with your customers, especially when you’re launching a new site. You want to do as much as possible to alleviate pain points and assure your customers that eCommerce will only make their lives easier.
Step 8: Measure results against objectives
Once the timed duration of your adoption drive has expired, it’s time to circle back and compare your results to your goals. Did you hit your goal? If so, celebrate. If not, figure out how to adjust, move forward, and launch a more effective campaign.
- If you didn’t reach your goals in a general adoption campaign, look at email opens and eCommerce logins. Break things out into customer segments. Did your general message perform well with some segments, but not with others? In future campaigns, you can use more targeted messaging that addresses the concerns of each segment individually.
- If you didn’t reach your goals in a targeted adoption campaign, what went wrong? Analyze your open rate and adoption rate among the segment. Look at the different messages which you used in A/B testing. Reach out to key influencers in the segment and ask for personal feedback. You might be surprised at what you find out.
A successful eCommerce adoption campaign isn’t a black box. With understanding of your customer segments, great content, real incentives, and personal contact, you can meet your goals in shifting sales to eCommerce. At Corevist, we regularly advise our clients on how to achieve this. If you have any questions on the topic, don’t hesitate to get in touch.