6 common B2B e-commerce assumptions
At Corevist, we’ve seen our share of missed opportunities in B2B e-commerce. Nine times out of ten, these missed opportunities happen because of assumptions manufacturers make–about their customers, their employees, and what it’s like to buy from them.
Here are 6 assumptions which can hold manufacturers back from full e-commerce success. While you could call each one of these a mistake, it’s more helpful to consider them missed opportunities and take a note on how you can address this in your business so you avoid a similar problem.
1. Don’t assume that once you build it, they’ll come.
It’s not enough to build and launch an e-commerce store. For customers who’ve been ordering from you the same way for years, a little hand-holding goes a long way. In fact, if you’re launching e-commerce, you need to develop a plan for onboarding. We’ve covered that in greater detail here: 8 Steps to Drive B2B E-commerce Adoption.
It’s worth noting that real e-commerce adoption starts before the go-live day. Your customers should be a part of the process from the very start. That’s why the Corevist’s Agile development method includes targeted focus groups with your actual customers. It helps us ensure we prioritize the customizations that will make the biggest impact for your real users. Starting your e-commerce project this way gives your customers a greater sense of investment in the new web store.
2. Don’t assume your customers will be in love with your Marketing banner ads…
Ads are the norm in B2C e-commerce. You can’t spend a moment on Amazon without seeing a wide range of ads, both banner ads and algorithmically-generated product recommendations. When manufacturers launch e-commerce, they often assume they can (and should) replicate the Amazon experience as much as possible, including using banner ads within their site.
Manufacturers should interrogate this assumption, starting with feedback from real customers. While some customers may be more open to merchandising and discovering new products, some may not have the patience for it, particularly if they’ve come to the site to get in, place a routine order, and get on with their day. If that’s the case, they may not appreciate the ads.
3. …but don’t assume your customers aren’t interested in your other product lines, either.
Though your customers may have contracts governing their personalized catalogs with you, don’t assume they won’t be interested in other products you sell. That’s a huge missed opportunity for manufacturers.
It’s actually not that hard to introduce your customers to new products. The easiest way is cross-selling/upselling via personalized product recommendations within the catalog. Because these products are related to the product the customer is viewing, they don’t feel like an interruption. This a great way to increase the value of each transaction, too, because you can use cross-selling/upselling to push consumables, parts, or other supplies that support the main product.
4. Don’t assume your customers don’t want to pay by credit card on occasion.
Just because they’ve paid you through paper checks for years (or even decades) doesn’t mean they’re satisfied with the process. Even your biggest customers may wish you offered the convenience of credit card payments. They may just be picking their battles and not bringing it up.
The solution? Get feedback from your real customers, as large a snapshot as possible. Ask them directly: “If we enabled credit card payments, would you use it?” You might be surprised at the answers.
5. Don’t assume your Sales people know your customers best…
Unfortunately, your Sales reps may not know your customers as well as you would hope. Sales is tasked with satisfying your customers, but they may have a product-first focus and may not be equipped to drive the conversation around customer experience as a whole.
The remedy? Talk to your customers directly. Get their real, honest feedback about what it’s like to do business with you—not only the products you sell, but also how those products are bought.
6. …but on the flipside, don’t assume Sales has it wrong, either.
Sales does have a pulse on customer needs, particularly in the area of products. What’s more, you’ll need Sales on your side when it comes to launching e-commerce and onboarding your customers. That’s why it’s essential to get the input of your Sales team from the very start—not only in talking through the needs of customers as Sales understands them, but also getting the perspective of your reps themselves.
Moving forward: FREE case study
Wondering what B2B e-commerce looks like when all assumptions are flushed out? Download this case study on Mannington Mills. You’ll learn how Mannington launched a Corevist B2B portal, then added a catalog to satisfy customer needs and saw e-commerce sales rise 150%.
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