Practical Ecommerce

3 Ways to Simplify B2B Ecommerce

Business-to-business ecommerce can be complex. There are often restrictions on who can purchase products. Frequently buyers need assistance in finding the right item. But a key to success in B2B ecommerce is that simpler can be better.

It doesn’t mean that you eliminate the functionality that makes the buying process complex. Rather, it means that you find a way to simplify it.

Here are a three examples of simplifying B2B ecommerce.

Customer Support

Put your telephone number at the top of every page. Make it easy for buyers to call. Sometimes ecommerce owners think that if their site is working well, they shouldn’t be getting phone calls. But that is not true.

Especially in the case of B2B, where the purchase is complex, customer service reps can assist buyers who are unsure about the products and guide them through the process over the phone. This can also ease the burden of a subpar mobile site.

Medical Supply Depot lists its phone number in the top right of every page.

Medical Supply Depot lists its phone number in the top right of every page.

Live chat, too, can be an inexpensive way to assist B2B buyers, in my experience.

Easy Path to Purchase

Make it easy for buyers to complete their purchase. Show products on the home page. This helps buyers easily select items that interest them, to add to their carts. Also, when they see your products, buyers can quickly identify what your company sells.

B2B typically requires more checkout steps (such as creating an account) than B2C. But allow buyers to complete those steps after they’ve added items to the cart. And, importantly, give customers a visual confirmation when they have added a product to their shopping cart.

MSC Industrial Supply, a distributor of manufacturing products, shows "Top Sellers" at the bottom of its home page, with "Add to Cart" buttons.

MSC Industrial Supply, a distributor of manufacturing products, shows “Top Sellers” at the bottom of its home page, with “Add to Cart” buttons.

MSC Industrial Supply shows buyers a modal popup with related products after they've added items to their carts.

MSC Industrial Supply shows buyers a modal popup with related products after they’ve added items to their carts.

There are other aspects of B2B sites that can simplify the path to purchase.

  • Add products from content pages. Do you have pages on your site that explain the products? Consider allowing buyers to add products to their shopping cart directly from these pages.
  • Related products. When a shopper is on a page for a specific part, show the accessories that she will need for that item.
  • Category pages. Consider an add-to-cart button directly on category pages and search results pages.

Simplify a Quote Request

B2B buyers frequently require a price quote before they complete their order. But assembling a quote can require dialog between a sales staff and the buyer, to clarify. B2B suppliers can use their websites to simplify this process.

The key is to develop a system that will handle most requests. To create this system online, it helps to understand the process offline. A flowchart can help. List the questions your sales staff needs answered to build a quote. Also, consider building a spreadsheet, which accompanies the flowchart, that lists the various possible choices for each step, and what combination of choices is valid. The flowchart and the spreadsheet can help developers build the quotation system online.

Oasis Disc Manufacturing, a CD and DVD package producer, simplifies the process of assembling a quote by leading buyers through the typical questions when ordering.

Oasis Disc Manufacturing, a CD and DVD package producer, simplifies the process of assembling a quote by leading buyers through the typical questions when ordering.

Lori McDonald

Lori McDonald

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