It happens billions of times per day. Trillions of dollars are exchanged. All of it taking place on business to business (B2B) e-commerce sites. In spite of all of this, many B2B sites are missing one or several elements that could increase sales and improve the customer experience.These are 12 elements that we have discovered are important on every B2B website.
- Customer registration - While business-to-consumer (B2C) websites often lets buyers checkout without registering, it should be mandatory for B2B customers to register on the website. Not only will it allow them to verify that they are indeed businesses and get a wholesale discount, but it can allow the website to store invoices and purchase orders.
- Search - If a business owner or manager is looking for something on a website, they don't want to spend a lot of time looking through pages on your website. Using a search function, they can find what they are looking for quickly, make their purchase, and then move on. Any customer that has to spend a lot of time searching for an item, they are likely to leave and go to a competitor's website to buy their item.
- Simple Navigation - It is amazing the number of B2B websites that are so difficult to negotiate that customers simply click away. With sites like Amazon and AliBaba selling almost anything, it can be very expensive to lose a customer to another provider. When designing a site, it needs to be done with the end user in mind, not the ease of the company.
- Mobile ready- Until recently, being mobile ready on your website wasn't necessary. Today, Google will simply stop listing your site if it's not mobile responsive. This means that your site will automatically adjust to any size screen. Google provides a site that can check to see if your existing site is mobile-ready: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. If it's not, you need to get a new website right away. Your site is probably not showing up in search engines.
- Email marketing tie-in - Be sure to use your site to gather emails. By integrating an email server into your website, you can market to your customers and your potential customers. This is the fastest and easiest way to make money from your site.
- Fast order - Your customers probably already know exactly what they want. Make it easy for them by letting them enter a SKU, click the quantity, and then simply press a button to checkout.
- Flexible payment - For B2C sites, demanding a credit card or Paypal for payment makes sense, but on your B2B site, you need to allow your customers to checkout and pay any way they need to. The ability to bill with a purchase order, a company credit card, or other business payment method will bring you a lot more business customers than if you force them into paying with a credit card.
- Quote request - For larger orders, a business might need a quote to request a purchase order. Providing them with this function quickly and easily will likely get you more business.
- Sales rep-centric - Make it easy for your sales representatives to work with your clients. As much as a B2B site can make business easier, most businesses still want to have a personal relationship with the companies that they do business with. Including your sales reps photos, name, and contact information on every order will give your clients the personal attention that they want, even if they placed their entire order themselves.
- Multi-user accounts - Make it easy for a company to use a single account to access your products. The easiest way to do this is to have the account belong to the company, not to an individual. That way, anyone in the company with the right credentials can login and use the account. The best way to do this is to allow users to create an umbrella account, then to register as separate individuals. This will make it easier for the company to see who ordered what.
- Account-specific pricing - Every account tends to have their own pricing structure. You can offer a discount at checkout to each account or you can create a site that lets your customers see their price after they login. This allows your website to be as individualized as if your customers were talking to you.
- No pop-ups - So many B2B sites have pop-ups offering to login, download e-books, and lots of other things. Every pop-up can lose as much as 25% of customers. Busy professionals don't want to take the time to click away from a pop-up or enter their information. Pop-ups are bad. It's that simple.
Business-to-business websites are the best thing to happen to businesses since the telephone, but so many companies miss great opportunities to win more business and build new relationships.