B2B ecommerce sites are typically more complicated, with more features, than B2C. In this article, I will address eight innovative B2B ecommerce sites. My company has no business relationship with these examples. But they are compelling and they provide inspiration for other B2B merchants.
Fisher Scientific is a provider of medical and laboratory equipment and supplies. Its website, FisherSci.com, makes a nice use of promotions. On the top right there is an invite to “Restock Your Lab with Up to 50% Off.”
When you click the “Restock Your Lab…” link to arrive at the promotions page, there are multiple offers, including those that allow you to trade in an older meter for a discount. When you click to take advantage of the offer, there’s a tab that explains the simple process to redeem the order. There is also an explanation of Fisher Scientific’s recycling process for the old equipment.
Haas Automation manufactures machine tools.
Do you think your products are too big and expensive to sell online? Think again. At HaasCNC.com, visitors can build a quote request for a machine, and then print it or send it electronically to a dealer for follow up. This is convenient for the potential buyers, and it’s efficient for the Haas Automation sales team.
If you are concerned about sharing pricing publicly, consider the Haas Automation approach, but restrict the prices to only internal sales reps. I have seen other companies build tools like this. It ensures consistency in the sales, pricing, and quoting process.
Grainger is a leading provider of industrial supplies. Its site is filled with features that make it easier for business buyers, including:
- Estimated product arrival times on the product page, even before login;
- The ability to limit search results to only show previously purchased products;
- A mobile app that allows buyers to upload an image and chat with an agent, and allows them to scan a barcode to quickly re-order the same product.
MSC Industrial Supply is a worldwide supplier of industrial equipment and tools. Its website, MSCDirect.com, offers tools that make it easier for buyers to track and allocate expenses. Buyers can log in and create categories and values that company personnel must enter when placing an order, providing clarity around which budget the item falls into.
In addition, MSCDirect.com provides for purchasing workflows so that orders can be submitted by one user and approved by another.
The screenshot below shows a shopping cart that has been filled in an organization that has an order approval workflow set up. This user will send the shopping cart to the buyer that will approve and place the order. Companies can set up individual buyers with different spending levels, so the buyers can purchase items under their spending limit or, alternatively, send the orders to other buyers, with larger limits, to complete the order.
How do you stand out with a commodity product? You solve a customer’s problem. That’s the goal of 4Imprint, a provider of promotional products.
Say a potential buyer realizes she is attending a trade show in one week. She has no promotional products to stock in her booth. 4Imprint.com offers a mega menu that provides a quick visual navigation to products that can be shipped within 24 hours.
4Imprint’s ordering process is simple and intuitive. It reduces perceived risk by providing a clear guarantee as well as customer reviews. The site lists easy access to the customer service team with chat and a 1-800 number. If a shopper waits more than 60 seconds to talk to a representative, 4Imprint will give him $25 off his next order.
Herman Miller, the office furniture provider, offers a handy selector to help buyers find the right chair.
Additionally, product pages provide supporting information such as reviews, a product Q&A, shipping date, and a satisfaction guarantee. There’s also an easy product-configuration interface.
At the bottom of product pages are popular configurations to help shoppers decide.
This supplier of radio-frequency and microwave components provides helpful content that supports shoppers in their purchasing process and in doing their jobs. In Pasternack.com’s “Resources” tab, there is “Engineer’s Resource Center,” “Buyer’s Resource Center,” and “RF Institute.”
Pasternack.com offers a Cable Creator Tool that allows buyers to design their own cable assembly, to ship the same day. The tool is not optimized for smartphones, but, nonetheless, it enables buyers to build a unique, customized product — a very compelling feature.
New Pig’s products clean up and prevent leaks, drips, and spills. NewPig.com is one of my favorite ecommerce sites. It is a reminder that B2B doesn’t have to be boring.
The site does many things well. It is fun brand that uses abandoned cart email campaigns that will make you smile. Buyers can order products to auto-ship, to receive the products continually. This is convenient for buyers and increases their lifetime value for the New Pig.
NewPig.com has a clean user experience that encourages shoppers to purchase and spend more money. The shopping cart page emphasizes the “No Guff” guarantee. The page uses color — red — to highlight checkout buttons. At the bottom of the shopping cart page is “Today’s Daily Deal,” which shoppers can order only on that today for a discounted price.
What We Cannot See
The B2B examples above have features available to the public. Many other powerful B2B ecommerce sites have tools available to their customers, reps, and vendors only after they log in. For companies that want to restrict what they publicly share, consider offering tools like these after customers log in. Or, alternatively, offer some tools to the public and even more behind a login.