I need to raise capital to buy stock for my business. Bit of a weird question but is there a small loan I can take out? I'm selling all my stuff but it might not be enough.
Due to the covid-19 outbreak, many events got canceled in the last few months. But now it’s September and there are several virtual ecommerce events in Europe you can attend. Let’s have a look.
In 2019, only 13% of all B2B sales were generated digitally. By 2023, when U.S. B2B online sales are projected to reach $1.8 trillion, this is expected (based on a pre-pandemic forecast) to reach 17% — which is not an insignificant slice of the pie.
And with COVID-19 still impacting the ways we live, work, and purchase, the call to ecommerce is growing stronger. Across every industry, businesspeople and consumers are learning tough lessons about agility and resilience.
It’s increasingly clear that both require at least some degree of digital presence.
Couple that with the growing financial opportunity, and you may wonder what’s holding traditional B2B companies back from embarking on their journey of digital transformation.
There are a lot of answers to that question, but one is that B2B sales tends to be quite a bit more complex than a typical B2C transaction.
The traditional sales-meeting, hand-shaking, demoing, negotiating, contracting, and procurement process isn’t easy to translate to a consumer-like digital experience online. Or, at least, it wasn’t always. And besides — the modern B2B buyer has different expectations.
Between the evolution of customer expectations and advancement of ecommerce technologies, taking your business online has a lower barrier to entry than ever.
Let’s take a look at what’s changed over the past decade in B2B, and what challenges merchants still face when moving from bricks to clicks.
Today’s B2B buyers are increasingly tech-savvy — 61% of all B2B transactions now start online.
In fact, buyers want to be empowered to go through as much of the process on their own as possible. According to a report from Accenture, most buyers are about 57% of the way through the buying process by the time they speak with a rep.
That they’re willing to shoulder so much of that research is a good thing, considering that same report notes today’s buyers are more cautious — more than 90% of decision-makers never respond to cold outreach.
But buyers are also growing more demanding, with expectations highly impacted by their personal buying experiences. Thanks to sites like Amazon, customers expect fast page load times, effective, easy-to-use on-site search, intuitive navigation, detailed product images and descriptions, self-service options, and quick checkout.
B2B ecommerce has lagged behind B2C counterparts in their ability to deliver a positive, holistic customer experience.
The primary challenge of B2B ecommerce, then, is to deliver a beautiful, easy-to-use ecommerce site that also supporting complex business workflows like customer-specific contract pricing, custom catalogs, purchasing approvals, payment on credit terms and other business-specific types, easy re-ordering, delivery and pickup methods, and digitization of other traditionally offline processes.
Your B2B buyers want the same experience as B2C shoppers: efficiency and ease of use. But they have different needs — and therein lies the major challenge of B2B ecommerce sales.
You probably don’t have an account manager to be the liaison between you and your favorite department store. But B2B relationships often are personalized in this way and have developed over time.
These personalized needs include customer-specific pricing, whether based on a tiering system or specifically negotiated deals, and bulk pricing. You may also have customers who don’t need access to your entire catalog.
B2B buyers expect pricing, catalogs, and product selection to be organized according to their particular requirements. How will those relationships translate online? How do you keep relationships unique and personalized at scale?
Assigning customer catalogs to specific customer segments is a way for you to start to personalize the B2B customer shopping experience for your users. This enables logged in customers to see only what is relevant to them, showing the prices that have been specifically negotiated for their account.
The B2B purchasing workflow can consist of a wide range of people with their own specific roles and responsibilities. There will be people researching the solutions, stakeholders whose buy-in is needed to move forward, financial representatives to approve the spend, and so many more. And depending on the value of the purchase, this could take up to a year or more — a far cry from the one-click purchase button on Amazon.
All that complexity means there’s a lot to keep up with. This is where solid back-office management comes in. You have to be able to efficiently provide each stakeholder your business interacts with the information they need to do their jobs.
This is not a job for a manual process. You need powerful tools on your side, like customer relationships management (CRM) software, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to integrate all your data, and self-service options so buyers can find as much information on their own as possible.
B2B buyers expect flexibility on how they order and how they pay — and they need it, because some companies’ purchase processes are as complex and analog as the laggards they buy from.
Procurement refers to the activities around acquiring the products and services that support business operations. It’s often tightly monitored and controlled, with clearly defined policies and processes. This can include a lot of documents, like contracts, requisition orders, purchase orders, invoices, and more.
According to an August 2019 survey of B2B buyers, almost three-quarters of respondents said they’d switch to a new ecommerce site for better purchasing options. The same share of respondents stated that they would purchase more products if they could pay by invoice.
eProcurement is the digitization of the procurement process. B2B buyers use eProcurement platforms to help improve efficiency and gain greater control over spending across the organization.
These platforms enforce best practices and consolidate data, but getting data into the platform can be tricky. An eProcurement integrator, bridging the divide between buyer and seller platforms, facilitates the flow of requisition, purchase order, invoice, and other data between ecommerce and eProcurement platforms.
Offering flexible payment terms to B2B customers can help you win new customers and keep existing customers happy.
Using a B2B credit solution can give you the advantage of:
Selling online requires locking together a number of moving pieces, and that number can be even greater when you’re talking about B2B. Particularly if you sell via multiple channels (e.g., B2B and B2C, or have multiple lines of distribution), you may have many different sources of data. Keeping that data siloed is not the best option for your business.
ERP software integrates order management, accounting, and a 360-degree view of your clients into a single, real-time system, providing all the flexibility you need to customize the workflows and functionality of your back-office environment. A strong ERP integration provides you with a clear, holistic view of your business and your inventory levels so you can strengthen overall operations and meet buyer expectations.
Determining the best shipping strategy for your B2B business comes with its own set of unique challenges, from freight shipments to client-specific requirements and more. Some of the factors you may need to consider include:
But the added complexity doesn’t mean you can shy away from the shipping options offered by B2C merchants. In fact, buyers expect a B2C-like experience that delivers on personalization, quick delivery and convenience. And the growing demand for alternative delivery options in B2C shipping is just one example of this.
As you develop your B2B shipping strategy, aim for complete price transparency, multiple shipping options, and tailored shipping options based on product, order, or customer. Two things you can do now? Use different rules per product group, especially if you’re introducing a brand new product line, and make sure you are fulfilling orders via appropriate services (e.g., no LTL freight for small package shipments).
Modern buyers are moving away from in-person sales meetings and ordering via a paper catalog. Online B2B buyers, like B2C shoppers, want relevant search results, easy website navigation, and suggested product content.
But they also need accommodations that meet the complexity of B2B buying, such as a unique account with a custom catalog, specialized pricing, and sensitivity to product availability. The future of B2B is in ecommerce, and the need for personalized, intelligent, search-driven experience is essential.
Leveling up your B2B site search solution can turn your site into a dynamic, customer-centric shopping experience. Adaptive search is a technology that learns from and adapts to B2B buyers’ behavior over time. It uses machine learning to display products based on each buyer’s unique browsing and search behavior, thus personalizing the shopping experience.
When adaptive search is combined with autocomplete, it completes the word in the search bar and presents suggested answers or results based on the search term.
Here’s how to leverage adaptive search for B2B functionality:
Back in 2017, McKinsey released a report finding that B2B companies lagged behind B2Cs in how they use digital tools and data to set strategy. Fewer than 24% of executives understood how their industries were being disrupted by digital.
A combination of factors lead to B2B’s slow movement toward digital transformation — like the ones discussed in this article. But today, with evolving technologies and buyer demands, you’ll be able to find more ways to easily enable successful B2B sales on an ecommerce website.
Ecommerce drove 13% of total B2B sales in the U.S. in 2019. Forrester projected in December that share would reach 17% by 2023.
Now that we’ve seen the impact of COVID-19, that number may well be higher.
Effectively translating your offline business into the digital space can fundamentally change the way you do business and serve your customers. But why have B2B sellers’ ecommerce transitions been much slower than their B2C counterparts?
With longer sales cycles to navigate and more stakeholders to persuade, the task of taking existing offline processes into the digital era can be overwhelming. But the ecommerce tools available today have made it easier than ever. And COVID-19 has made it more important.
Ecommerce itself is a growing trend in B2B. As mentioned earlier, the share of ecommerce transactions is growing, but adoption still lags behind B2C. But the pandemic has forced many B2B companies to reckon with digital transformations they’ve been putting off.
An April report from McKinsey boldly stated, “We believe we are at a digital inflection point, where B2B sales operations going forward will look fundamentally different from what they were before the pandemic.” A couple of key stats from that report:
Digital Commerce Consultant Pete Robertshaw of Space48 said, “In the last three to four months, we’ve seen just how vulnerable B2B business can be. Even the ones that were already online don’t quite have the optimized digital journey they need yet.”
When people talk about B2B ecommerce today, there’s a lot of talk about the “B2C-like” customer experience. Otherwise known as the “Amazon” experience. With companies like Amazon changing the game in so many ways, consumers’ expectations have changed.
“Some of the B2Bs we see think they know what their users want, but when it comes to optimizing their digital journey, they really don’t,” said Robertshaw. “UX and CX aren’t just important for B2C; they’re important for B2B too. Buyers want their shopping experiences to be seamless.”
Let’s look at the latest trends driving B2B ecommerce to meet customer needs.
The future is mobile-first. In 2021, it’s expected that 73% of overall ecommerce sales will be made on a mobile device — and this will become increasingly important to B2B sales. One popular way to deliver a mobile-first ecommerce site is by using a PWA.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) deliver highly engaging, mobile-friendly user experiences. Using PWAs, merchants can provide the same high-converting, app-like experience of a native app to a much larger audience on the mobile web.
Here are some of the advantages you may see by using a PWA for your ecommerce site:
Business is moving faster than ever — on a good day, anyway — and buyers have to keep up. That’s why the quicker you can move them through the purchase process and deliver their goods, the better.
The goal of automation is to accomplish a task with as little human intervention as possible. That can mean anything from scheduling emails in a CRM or marketing tool, using Zapier to automate tasks, or leveraging advanced technology to help with hiring.
One of the most important automation tools is machine learning/artificial intelligence, but we’ll talk about that later. Let’s first look at how robotic devices are driving efficiency in the supply chain.
Robotic devices, drones, and other autonomous vehicles are being used across the supply chain — for instance, to find, identify, and transport items in warehouses — and the U.S. is closer than ever to seeing fully autonomous freight vehicles on the road. Alibaba’s smart warehouses deployed 60 robots and reduced human labor by 70%.
Today’s B2B buyers want to have agency in the purchase process. Calls with sales aren’t going away anytime soon, but buyers are doing more and more self-education before reaching out to begin discussions. An Accenture report found that most buyers are 57% of the way through the purchase process before they first meet with sales
Self-service isn’t new, of course, but it’s a differentiator. Giving buyers the information they need to do their own research will give them more confidence into their decision. This varies by industry, but many B2B sellers are investing heavily in content — including FAQs, step-by-step guides, etc.
When buyers come in with a solid understanding of the product and its use cases, that can elevate the conversation with sales, giving them room to support the potential client in a more strategic way.
Creating a smoother path to online purchase is also rising in popularity. When possible, many buyers want to complete their purchases without having to pick up the phone or interact with a sales representative.
Buyers want to do their due diligence in making sure they’re getting the right products for the best deal. It follows that a product streamlining that process would gain traction among B2B buyers.
Marketplaces afford buyers the transparency they’re looking for in the purchase process — and in a streamlined, user-friendly way. B2B marketplaces make it easy to compare different products and suppliers, prices and product specs, delivery times and costs across a variety of suppliers.
There are a lot of advantages of selling on a marketplace. First of all, there’s a relatively low barrier to entry. You won’t have to spin up a whole new ecommerce site or undergo any crazy development — you can get set up quickly, and with a low up-front financial investment.
The biggest advantage, though, is the expanded reach. B2B ecommerce marketplaces are expected to increase their market share by a factor of four between 2018 and 2024. On a marketplace, your products will be in front of buyers you may not have reached otherwise, increasing your overall revenue potential.
B2B buyers want to research your company, find answers to their questions, and communicate with you across all channels.
Being where your customers are makes it easy for them to communicate with you when and how they wish. And enabling a faster, more seamless process will support customer retention.
B2B buyers are actively shifting transaction volume from single-channel offline to omnichannel and online-only. In fact, the average B2B customer is using six different interaction channels across the buying process, and 58% are even using social as a research channel.
You don’t have to be on every channel, though — and in fact, that’s a bad idea. Be strategic instead, and answer these questions before you decide:
Personalization is a hot topic across the board, but it really makes a lot of sense for B2B. Often, the B2B sales process is personalized.
Specific product configurations, special pricing negotiations, and more make B2B ecommerce needs just a little bit more complex. That’s why account management functionality is so important. Account-specific storefronts enable you to deliver customers with an experience tailored to their needs.
While these personalized portals are arguably the most important personalization in B2B, that makes them table stakes. Here’s how to take your personalization game to the next level.
50% of B2B buyers identified improved personalization as a key feature when searching for online suppliers. And it could make them more likely to spend more, too.
To get the most out of a personalization program, you’ll want to be able to integrate data from a broad range of inputs, so you can develop a more holistic profile of your buyer. That profile can guide dynamic content delivery surfacing the most frequently purchased products by buyers with similar profiles.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are still predominantly used by large B2B companies, but as technology advances we’ll see smaller companies begin to leverage it in beneficial ways. Two interesting use cases are customer support and product recommendations.
Intelligent chatbots play an important role as the first line of defense when a customer visits your website. They can improve the customer experience and decrease support calls by providing customers with basic information about their orders or delivery.
“Websites that recommend items you might like based on previous purchases are using machine learning to analyze your buying history,” explains Jeff Goffinet of Dunn Solutions Group.
Based on customers’ browsing and buying behaviors, AI can deliver personalized product recommendations to encourage conversion or upsell. In B2B specifically, this can also help make buyers’ lives easier by anticipating their orders and making it easier to navigate to the items they need.
As more B2Bs undergo digital transformation, competition will grow. Here’s why: making the purchase process easier is a double-edged sword. It also makes it easier to buy from someone else. B2Bs will have to go the extra mile when it comes to customer retention if they want to have a competitive advantage.
You can do a lot with loyalty programs in the B2B space beyond something like frequent flyer miles. Some of the options include offering:
You can also add extra value by providing content and third-party partnerships they want.
If you can collect and process it effectively, your data has the potential to boost sales and take your business to the next level. Ideally, you’ll aggregate data from all channels, like your ecommerce site, omnichannel sales, and social interactions, for example.
Elliott Davidson, founder of UK digital agency Contrast, said, “In the future we will see more ecommerce businesses leverage data from an in-house perspective.
“In-house marketers are able to make a lot more strategic business decisions and really delve into the data to see what’s working and what isn’t. Data analysis is going to become a staple requirement for businesses to make any future ecommerce decisions.”
Some examples of meaningful metrics to collect:
If you’ve had an ecommerce store for any length of time, you know how it feels to always seem short on time. That’s why, when it comes to future trends, you have to prioritize relentlessly. Not every brand needs to capitalize on every trend.
A good guiding principle is to focus on usability before flash. That’s both from the customer’s perspective as they shop, and from yours on the operations side. No flashy onsite experience or other bells and whistles will replace a foundation of solid processes and best practices. Once you have that down, take measured risks and test, test, test.
Print on demand is a process where you can customize white-label products and print them on a per-order basis. No buying in bulk. Here’s a rundown of popular print-on-demand services and what you need to know when creating custom products.
Internal site search is the equivalent of someone walking into a physical store and asking for a product. The storekeeper would develop an understanding of what shoppers want based on these requests. In the digital world, Google Analytics can store all of these questions.
In this post, I’ll address how to configure site search in Google Analytics to improve your ecommerce product selection.
The first step is to capture site-search data in Google Analytics. We’ve addressed how to do this. Google’s Analytics help explains the process, too. Once configured, your internal site search data will show up in Google Analytics at Behavior > Site Search. Allow up to 24 hours for this to occur.
When the data appears, you can establish if visitors use your site search and if it generates revenue. Go to the usage report in Google Analytics, at Behavior > Site Search > Usage for:
This info is a good starting point to know the importance of site search for your business.
Search terms. Next, determine what visitors search for and how often. Analyze, too, their phrases and terms. Do they query, for example, “kitchen supplies” or “cooking utensils”? Get all this data in Google Analytics at the Search Terms report, at Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms.
You might find a few hundred terms or a few thousand. Scan the list to get a sense of the phrases your visitors are using.
Remember that Google Analytics, by default, shows only 10 terms on the first view. Scroll to the bottom of the table for a drop-down menu to expand the list to as many as 5,000 items. Alternatively, expand the list by choosing a broader time range. You can export this data to a spreadsheet for further analysis.
If you have at least a few thousand search phrases, you could also see this data by segments, such as search terms from visitors by state or a certain campaign.
Problem terms. Once you have a sense of the search terms, look for the ones that are not working. The Search Terms report contains a column called “% Search Exits” — the percentage of people who leave the site after searching for that term.
Say, for example, that “kitchen utensil set” has a search exit of 70 percent. That means that 70 percent of visitors leave after they see the search results. There are several reasons for this, typically.
Look at all search phrases with more than 50-percent exits. And pay special attention to all phrases with 100-percent search exits.
Revenue from site search. Next, determine whether your site search is generating revenue. This requires implementing Google Analytics ecommerce tags in Google Tag Manager to track your sales.
The default Search Term report does not show revenue. Create a custom report with the following columns:
The custom report will reveal many interesting patterns, such as:
Trends. The Search Terms report can indicate how products and product categories are trending. Click on any term for a graph of the number of unique searches for a given date range, which you can adjust.
Repeat the process for all terms to see which products are gaining popularity and which are on their way out.
We're holding a webinar about Black Friday in 2020 and how it will look because of COVID, and I want to know from everyone who runs an ecommerce site, what would you specifically want to learn from something like this? I want to be able to provide as much relevant information as possible.
Hey; started an e-commerce fashion brand been working on months; got significant social proof etc and very good feedback on the site as a whole.
I've ran about £250 worth of ads over the previous week and have solidified on two now that I have running. I have them both optimised for ATC as after running engagement etc I finally had 50+ atc which i understand is minimum for optimisation and started them two days ago with the new conversion goal ATC.
Stats for 1: CPC 0.25p / CTR 1.95% / CPM £4.87 / result rate 80% / AVG ATC Price 0.65p.
Stats for 2: CPC 0.30p / CTR 1.84% / CPM £5.50 / result rate 70% / AVG ATC Price 0.78p.
Stats for 3: CPC 0.21p / CTR 1.65% / CPM £3.38 / result rate 25% / AVG ATC Price 1.20p.
All been running 36-72h within a campaign budget of £75 a day. 1.5k+ sessions including the initial engagement over last week including about 450 since switching to ATC 72h ago.
1: 75 ATC last 24h
2: 29 ATC Last 24h
3: 28 ATC Last 24h
So for roughly 135 ATC = TOTAL SALES = 3. AOV £34.
However; these are all taken from Facebook; Shopify analytics has 45 total ATC (don't really get that!).
I've killed 2 and 3 as 1 is obviously far better (and my money was being eaten alive by them so focusing on one will reduce budget to £30 tonight whilst i solve this).
In any event; with those numbers; especially metrics for 1) shouldn't i be killing it? But have 16 abandoned checkouts and 3 purchases according to shopify.
My checkout page is the standard theme (brooklyn) with logo etc; that I am aware tons of successful stores use; it is shopify's basically default checkout page.
Anyone help out with come comments/advice? Would really appreciate it.