IBM WebSphere B2B eCommerce

70% of B2B leads originate online; is your B2B site prepared to compete?

In today’s online market, the line between B2B and B2C continues to blur, as searching for product information, researching options, and looking up competitors are all typical online behaviors regardless of the focus. B2B companies need to take advantage of the latest trends in B2C; including sites which feature functional design, search engine optimized content, and personalized site experiences, otherwise they could be leaving dollars on the table.

While providing customers with the ability to purchase products and services via your website creates a convenient sales channel for your customers and encourages ongoing customer interaction. Additional conversions that are unrelated to sales, such as submitting forms, sharing content, and commenting on posts, are also incredibly important to plan for and track in the B2b environment.

Four Common B2B eCommerce Challenges
and How to Solve them

Creating Support in Within the Organization

Among the many initiatives an organization takes on in any given year, a b-to-b ecommerce project can be one of the most challenging. Not only do these require resources whose days are filled with conflicting priorities, but it introduces an entirely new sales channel which changes the dynamic of the organization’s working business model. Read More

Managing Your Product/Content Catalog

If you’re implementing a B2B eCommerce site, prevent an immediate blow-up by collecting and organizing all of your catalog data first.  Read more

Determining if an ERP Integration Makes Sense

Because it can be so daunting, some organizations choose the path of least resistance and duplicate the ERP data and business logic in the eCommerce system, leaving the two systems decoupled. Unfortunately, this decoupling opens the door to a host of headaches, and companies find themselves wrestling with data replication and timing errors. Read More

Including the Sales Team Management

Don’t forget the Sales Team. A word to the wise: any business-to-business organization deploying an eCommerce site that forgets its sales personnel is asking for trouble. Read More

Three Tips to Building your online B2B site

Time spent improving the customer experience will be rewarded as visitors will turn into customers when your products are easier to find and the buying process more streamlined. A few specific items you can focus on after the initial launch include:

Product Images need to be reviewed and improved. This tends to be a sore point for B2B companies, because many simply do not have access to high-quality images. However, eCommerce customers love and want multiple, high-resolution product images; find these images within the sales or marketing department, or conduct a photo shoot.

Extended product descriptions should also be reviewed and improved. Originally, these descriptions would have been pulled from various internal sources—and, unfortunately, they typically aren’t of a high enough quality for marketing to customers (let alone for keyword rich SEO content).

Site navigation and faceted search elements must be reviewed. The idea here is to help online shoppers find what they want as quickly as possible.

Don’t forget to spend some time with the marketing team to determine what the goal of the messaging should be on the site, content is king in today’s online marketplace. If your organization doesn’t have internal marketing resources, consider a freelance writer with industry experience.

Be sure to review the online marketing tools available and develop a plan to deploy them in they were not part of the initial launch.  Those tools to focus on include:

Providing cross-sell/up-sell functionality is a straightforward way to introduce additional products to the online shopper. Typically, this data can be accessed from within the back office system. With the design of a quick interface, the eCommerce site can easily suggest additional products or higher priced items to the customer.

Customer segmentation tools can be referred to by various names, depending on the ecommerce software. Regardless of what they’re called, these tools ultimately allow for the creation of segments of customers based on their activities. Then, these customer segments can be used in marketing campaigns, email campaigns, specific targeted content, special pricing or promotions.

By leveraging these tools, an online B2B marketer can present customers with specific, targeted content and pricing that makes them feel as though the site was built specifically for them.

Product recommendations which are typically found in most ecommerce software toolkits, provided the B2B marketer with the ability to recommend products that other shoppers have also purchased. The shopper is presented with recommendations such as, “People who bought this item also bought these items” or “People who bought this item also viewed these items.” These recommendations are powerful messages to the casual shopper, and get into the psychology of the social influences of ecommerce.

B2B marketers can and should take advantage of social media channels, such as blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. which can drive traffic to your site by sharing your organization’s message, facilitate meaningful communication between the company and the customer base. The result is an opportunity to build customer loyalty and, ultimately, repeat sales.

Helping a customer understand how a product works will ultimately encourage him or her make the decision to purchase it. One of the more intimidating items that should be considered for B2B eCommerce is a product rating or review system. Traditionally, this tool has been used exclusively in the B2C world; however, buyers in the B2B world are starting to demand this option as well. Giving the customer so much power is a scary thought for many organizations and traditional sales teams. However, many B2B organizations are already starting to provide product reviews and, when properly managed, this communication channel provides trust through transparency.

Another option for B2B companies is YouTube, which provides the perfect medium for instructional, how-to videos. These videos are an excellent opportunities for companies to show off their expertise, to demonstrate how a product works, or to highlight other uses for the product.

Learn more about how B2C practices can benefit your B2B organization.

Check out some of our B2B Blogs:

SVP Worldwide eCommerce ERP Integration Case Study
IBM Certified Solution

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Ready to move on your B2B site, we are ready when you are.