If there's one thing we’ve learned over the last several years, it’s that e-commerce is evolving, and so is the way manufacturers and distributors are doing business. B2B used to be all about efficiency – get the customer in and out as quickly, and efficiently, as possible, and as long as the customer could log in and submit the order, things were good.
While efficiency is still important, one area where things have been shifting is with the idea of a personalized customer shopping experience. “Digital experience” is a familiar buzzword that’s been thrown around quite a bit recently, but what does that actually mean, and why is it important for manufacturers and distributors?
A good digital experience comes down to optimizing the end user experience in a way that adds value for the customer. To do this, manufacturers and distributors need to shift from a product-focused mindset to customer-focused. It’s no longer sufficient to provide a simple online catalog and open up the storefront for business. B2B customers are looking for that B2C experience, and one way to start incorporating all these different pieces is to invest in a digital experience platform (DXP).
Some things to consider when selecting a DXP
- Look for a platform that not only supports your business needs and integrates with key 3rd party tools, but also one that is extendable.
- Look for one that utilizes AI and machine learning to enhance product and content recommendations based on individual buyer needs and activity.
- Consider a platform that uses content intelligence to analyze how content is impacting users and provides information on how content is performing in order to generate more effective content in the long run.
- Consider a platform that has experience optimization and testing tools. These provide the ability to understand what your customers need and what they’re looking for, and allow you to use that information to optimize the experience from start to finish. For example: many platforms will provide components that enable A/B testing, user research and analytics to compare what works and what doesn’t.
Why do manufacturers & distributors need a DXP?
- Increase engagement & conversion. On average, the number of connected devices is 6.5 devices per person. Users are looking for consistency and ease of use. Customers are more likely to return if you can make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for, provide personalized content, and a consistent experience across all channels.
- Get ahead of competition and drive new customer engagement. An example of this sounds simple enough, but it makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things. We had a client that recently came to us for a new B2B e-commerce implementation, and they did their own user research ahead of time. They engaged with their existing customers to understand the biggest pain points when it came to using their previous e-commerce site. What did they find? Their search function was severely lacking – it was one of the top complaints and ultimately one of the biggest reasons customers were driven to purchase product from a different distributor. This was a critical component for them when it came to the overall customer experience.
- Increase the ROI. According to Forbes, companies who have a “customer first” strategy are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t. Brands that provide superior customer experiences bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors who don't, and 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an overall increase in their revenue. These statistics alone seem like they could make a case for any company looking to invest in a DXP.
Aside from selecting the right DXP, now you might be asking, what else can manufacturers and distributors be doing within their e-commerce sites to build on that digital experience? For B2B centric businesses, this might include the obvious things like:
- Creating different role-based user personas and buyer accounts
- Custom product catalogs
- Customer specific pricing
- Real time pricing & inventory
- Multi-warehouse ordering capabilities
- Bulk order uploads
- Order subscriptions
- Multiple payment options, including individual payment terms
- Allowing sales reps or business administrators to create new customer accounts and manage them on the storefront
- Utilizing customer budgets, allowing administrators to manage those budgets, and implement an order approval workflow where necessary, all from the storefront.
These are all things that enable the customer to be self-sufficient, taking what would be an in-person or over the phone experience and digitizing it.
Outside of the typical B2B features and functions, they can also start thinking more about expanding on things like robust and relevant content and overall user interface. This would include things like:
- Informative product descriptions, specifications and attributes
- Including product guides, tutorials, how to’s and other relevant documents or assets
- Utilizing facet filtering and refining search capabilities
- Enabling cross-sells and upsells
- Core Web Vitals
- Smart, user-friendly, intuitive website design
Upgrade your experience
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things that can be done to maximize a customer’s digital experience, we’re only scratching the surface here. All of this is to say: e-commerce isn’t going anywhere - it’s only growing.
Living with COVID introduced a unique challenge to businesses across the globe, but also presented an opportunity to rise to the challenge and meet buyers/consumers where they are. Many adapted their processes, shifted the way they do business and embraced the change that came with online buying and what customers are looking for.
Manufacturers and distributors can keep up with where e-commerce is headed by transitioning to a customer-focused omnichannel experience. One way to do that is by adopting a powerful digital experience platform that integrates with a robust e-commerce platform.
Nish Tech has been delivering personalized B2B commerce experiences for over 10 years. We work with leading technology partners Sitecore and Optimizely to develop powerful and scalable e-commerce websites that put customers first, and our commerce accelerators simplify the process of integrating your storefront with your DXP and allow you to get your site up and running in a matter or weeks.
Contact us today to get started on your upgraded customer experience.