User experience in eCommerce is by definition targeted at attracting, engaging and converting individual users. But not all online shopping is personal shopping. When a business orders supplies or merchandise, that order is very likely to be made by a human being. A pleasant, intuitive and satisfying user experience can make all the difference in attracting and retaining valuable business-to-business customers.
B2B customers are often distinct from personal shoppers in three important ways:
- They are more likely to know exactly what they want.
- They are more likely to order in bulk.
- They are more likely to make similar orders repeatedly.
These principles may seem self-evident, but it is worth noting how important B2B customers can be to the growth and health of your store. A B2B customer is an incredibly valuable source of reoccurring business, and it is worth putting effort into making certain they have the best possible experience.
Shero has helped many clients establish a compelling B2B user experience with a combination of industry know-how, expert integration, and world-class development skills. Here are a few examples of sites with useful B2B features. We’ll use the above list as a guide to categorizing these features, but we’ll start by showcasing some examples in which B2B customers first need to be differentiated from B2C shoppers.
Identifying B2B Customers
A B2B customer will often have different needs than a personal shopper, so it makes sense to offer him or her a tailored experience. A good example of this is Primitives by Kathy, which uses a Shero customization that allows visitors to sign up for either a wholesale or personal account. By requiring a Tax ID, the store ensures that it is selling to legitimate wholesalers.
Primitives by Kathy also hides prices and other product details until a customer is logged in, whether wholesale or personal.
Painful Pleasures breaks its customers into three brackets: Retail, Wholesale and Distributor. Each bracket accesses its own Magento store, all drawing from the same massive catalog of over 40,000 products. The Wholesale and Distributor stores have reduced prices compared to the retail store, but have larger order minimums, encouraging B2B customers to order in bulk.
Streamlined Product Navigation
A B2B customer is more likely than a personal shopper to know exactly what he or she wants to purchase. Robust product filtering can be a huge benefit in making sure that a particular type of product is located quickly. Primitives by Kathy is a great example, providing a matrix of navigation filters that allow customers to quickly narrow down products from their large catalogue.
For B2B customers that are already familiar with your catalog, the option to order by SKU is indispensable. For University Products, Shero developed a custom extension that gives customers the ability to add up to 20 unique items to the cart with a single click, specifying a quantity for each.
University Products also features a Bid & Quote form to help facilitate special transactions with B2B customers.
Bulk Means Business
Whether purchasing for resale or stocking for business needs, B2B customers are likely to order products in bulk, which gives you a great opportunity for discount pricing incentives. Magento’s native tiered pricing feature is a great place to start. On Painful Pleasures, customers in the Distributor bracket are incentivized to order in bulk with compelling tiered discounts.
Primitives by Kathy uses Magento’s native pricing rules to specify case discounts:
Shero helped Painful Pleasures reach beyond default functionality with a custom module that allows customers to quickly order multiple configurations of a product in various quantities with a single click. This dramatically speeds up the shopping experience for B2B customers ordering configurable products from T-shirts to tattoo needles.
From Conversion to Retention
The clincher for any online shopping experience is checkout. You can make your site more appealing for B2B customers by ensuring that your checkout experience is seamless and by making it easy to repeat previous orders. This feature is built into Magento.
You may also wish to include more payment methods for B2B transactions than the credit card or PayPal options typically offered to personal shoppers. For example, Painful Pleasures offers Cash on Delivery, Bank Transfer Payments and Money Gram as alternative payment methods.
University Products is another good example, allowing businesses to apply Purchase Order numbers to their orders. B2B customers can also request to be contacted for special shipping arrangements.
Efficiency and communication are keys to developing strong working B2B relationships and establishing repeat customers. As we’ve seen, many features that facilitate better B2B transactions are built into Magento, and the latest version of the platform has stepped up its game with a dedicated suite of fantastic B2B features.
The Magento 2.2 B2B Suite
Magento’s Summer 2017 release is specifically designed to take B2B eCommerce to new heights. The Enterprise version starts with support for corporate accounts that allow multiple buyers to be associated with the same organizational structure, with assigned buyer roles and permissions within the organization. Here are just a few of the other great features:
- Personalized catalogs and price lists for individual companies or customer groups
- Quote requests with comments and quote negotiation, advanced shipping preferences and expiration dates for time-sensitive quotes
- Customer order tracking including past orders, quotes, credit, and inventory
- Order by SKU or uploaded CSV spreadsheet
- Simplified ordering with requisition lists
There’s never been a better time to consider how B2B transactions can be improved for your eCommerce site. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to show you how business customers can become your best customers.