The digital future of B2B E-commerce

collage of woman using giant phone. Shopping trolley to the left
collage of woman using giant phone. Shopping trolley to the left
collage of woman using giant phone. Shopping trolley to the left
collage of woman using giant phone. Shopping trolley to the left

In this playbook, we will guide you through five actionable steps that will empower you to navigate the complexities of the current B2B E-commerce landscape, empowering you to not just survive but thrive in this era of digital transformation.   

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving digital leadership. As we navigate through a complex web of macroeconomic instability, global supply chain disruptions, rising material costs, and the ongoing ripple effects of the pandemic, B2B commerce is ripe for disruption. Customers, once passive buyers in the B2B sphere, have evolved into active co-creators of value within the e-commerce ecosystem demanding personalised products and services to a similar level of excellence as seen in the B2C landscape. This shift is powered by data-driven product and innovation strategies, cost pressures and competition, compelling businesses to place an emphasis on true customer-centricity.  

No two e-commerce platforms are identical, they each offer unique features and functions, varying in specialisation, customisability, and the quality of the customer experience they deliver. In this dynamic environment, choosing the right digital tools and platforms is important; the competitive advantage is in understanding which features align most closely with your business needs and can make it easier to build the exact online presence you need to win.

How can your sales team extract the maximum value from its online presence and e-commerce experiences?

How can your sales team extract the maximum value from its online presence and e-commerce experiences?

How can your sales team extract the maximum value from its online presence and e-commerce experiences?

How can your sales team extract the maximum value from its online presence and e-commerce experiences?

How do you select an e-commerce platform and technology stack that aligns seamlessly with your unique business model and challenges?

How do you select an e-commerce platform and technology stack that aligns seamlessly with your unique business model and challenges?

How do you select an e-commerce platform and technology stack that aligns seamlessly with your unique business model and challenges?

How do you select an e-commerce platform and technology stack that aligns seamlessly with your unique business model and challenges?

What strategies can you employ to maximise product Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and craft product- and industry-specific content management approaches to supercharge your sales?

What strategies can you employ to maximise product Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and craft product- and industry-specific content management approaches to supercharge your sales?

What strategies can you employ to maximise product Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and craft product- and industry-specific content management approaches to supercharge your sales?

What strategies can you employ to maximise product Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and craft product- and industry-specific content management approaches to supercharge your sales?

Moreover, how can you seamlessly integrate and harmonise in-store and online customer experiences to ensure the most efficient use of your resources?

Moreover, how can you seamlessly integrate and harmonise in-store and online customer experiences to ensure the most efficient use of your resources?

Moreover, how can you seamlessly integrate and harmonise in-store and online customer experiences to ensure the most efficient use of your resources?

Moreover, how can you seamlessly integrate and harmonise in-store and online customer experiences to ensure the most efficient use of your resources?

80%

8 out of every 10 buyers will switch their supplier if the digital buying process disappoints

83%

of B2B buyers prefer ordering or paying through digital commerce

33%

of B2B buyers are more likely to buy from, and 37% more likely to renew a contract with, a seller that delivers an excellent customer experience

250%

increase in B2B mobile ordering since 2020

Sources: McKinsey, Deloitte & Gartner

Sources: McKinsey, Deloitte & Gartner

Sources: McKinsey, Deloitte & Gartner

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Hand pushing shopping mini shopping cart up a stack of coins. Arrow pointing upwards

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Give reasons to engage and repurchase

Give reasons to engage and repurchase

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Woman laughing at camera holding a phone and credit card. Shopping trolley symbol to the right of her head

coming soon

Woman laughing at camera holding a phone and credit card. Shopping trolley symbol to the right of her head

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Onboard with excellence

Onboard with excellence

Serve with intelligence

Serve with intelligence

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coming soon

coming soon

Two hands enaging with a tablet online shopping. Light bulb to right of tablet
Two hands enaging with a tablet online shopping. Light bulb to right of tablet
Two hands enaging with a tablet online shopping. Light bulb to right of tablet
Two hands enaging with a tablet online shopping. Light bulb to right of tablet

The digital future of

E-commerce in the B2B sphere

The shift to digital engagement and the remarkable growth in e-commerce revenue in both B2B and B2C sectors is evident. What's striking is that modern B2B consumers' expectations for digital presence and purchasing experiences have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Notably, B2B companies are transitioning to digital go-to-market sales models, with 41% using video conferences and 23% relying on online chats, while traditional in-person methods have seen a significant 52% decline (McKinsey, 2020). With Millennials and Gen Z now in key decision-making roles, their preference for minimal or no interaction with sales representatives during B2B transactions has significant implications for the B2B landscape.

This playbook emerges as a vital compass, offering insights and strategies to navigate the landscape by creating efficient and engaging B2B e-commerce journeys, potentially accounting for up to 95% of the total purchase time (Gartner, 2020).

keyboard with shopping trolley symbol on key
keyboard with shopping trolley symbol on key
keyboard with shopping trolley symbol on key
keyboard with shopping trolley symbol on key
white bright shop window with sale sign
white bright shop window with sale sign
white bright shop window with sale sign

Industry Trends

Integrated and omnichannel e-commerce strategies

The pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of the customer shopping experience and business operations, forcing firms to engage customers through alternative channels. This digital shopping experience primarily involves e-commerce, the online buying and selling of goods accessible to anyone, anywhere. Companies can establish a seamless digital ecosystem guiding customers from research to purchase and reorder. Notably, 44% of millennials prefer minimal sales rep interaction in B2B settings, a trend likely to continue with Gen Z as the next generation of decision-makers (Gartner, 2020). 

Omnichannel retail strategies have gained acceptance, signifying the increased integration between in-store and digital shopping experiences to streamline the customer journey across different channels. Digital interactions, including remote videos and calls for sales and customer support, often utilise Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) for self-service e-commerce. Even in B2B transactions, there's a preference for remote in-person engagement when available. Therefore, commerce should transition toward hybrid omnichannel models that combine digital and traditional in-person engagement throughout the purchasing journey. Nevertheless, customer expectations of continuing their online journey in-store with added assistance and personalisation are high.  

Industry Trends

Integrated and omnichannel e-commerce strategies

The pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of the customer shopping experience and business operations, forcing firms to engage customers through alternative channels. This digital shopping experience primarily involves e-commerce, the online buying and selling of goods accessible to anyone, anywhere. Companies can establish a seamless digital ecosystem guiding customers from research to purchase and reorder. Notably, 44% of millennials prefer minimal sales rep interaction in B2B settings, a trend likely to continue with Gen Z as the next generation of decision-makers (Gartner, 2020). 

Omnichannel retail strategies have gained acceptance, signifying the increased integration between in-store and digital shopping experiences to streamline the customer journey across different channels. Digital interactions, including remote videos and calls for sales and customer support, often utilise Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) for self-service e-commerce. Even in B2B transactions, there's a preference for remote in-person engagement when available. Therefore, commerce should transition toward hybrid omnichannel models that combine digital and traditional in-person engagement throughout the purchasing journey. Nevertheless, customer expectations of continuing their online journey in-store with added assistance and personalisation are high.  

Industry Trends

Integrated and omnichannel e-commerce strategies

The pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of the customer shopping experience and business operations, forcing firms to engage customers through alternative channels. This digital shopping experience primarily involves e-commerce, the online buying and selling of goods accessible to anyone, anywhere. Companies can establish a seamless digital ecosystem guiding customers from research to purchase and reorder. Notably, 44% of millennials prefer minimal sales rep interaction in B2B settings, a trend likely to continue with Gen Z as the next generation of decision-makers (Gartner, 2020). 

Omnichannel retail strategies have gained acceptance, signifying the increased integration between in-store and digital shopping experiences to streamline the customer journey across different channels. Digital interactions, including remote videos and calls for sales and customer support, often utilise Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) for self-service e-commerce. Even in B2B transactions, there's a preference for remote in-person engagement when available. Therefore, commerce should transition toward hybrid omnichannel models that combine digital and traditional in-person engagement throughout the purchasing journey. Nevertheless, customer expectations of continuing their online journey in-store with added assistance and personalisation are high.  

Industry Trends

Integrated and omnichannel e-commerce strategies

The pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of the customer shopping experience and business operations, forcing firms to engage customers through alternative channels. This digital shopping experience primarily involves e-commerce, the online buying and selling of goods accessible to anyone, anywhere. Companies can establish a seamless digital ecosystem guiding customers from research to purchase and reorder. Notably, 44% of millennials prefer minimal sales rep interaction in B2B settings, a trend likely to continue with Gen Z as the next generation of decision-makers (Gartner, 2020). 

Omnichannel retail strategies have gained acceptance, signifying the increased integration between in-store and digital shopping experiences to streamline the customer journey across different channels. Digital interactions, including remote videos and calls for sales and customer support, often utilise Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) for self-service e-commerce. Even in B2B transactions, there's a preference for remote in-person engagement when available. Therefore, commerce should transition toward hybrid omnichannel models that combine digital and traditional in-person engagement throughout the purchasing journey. Nevertheless, customer expectations of continuing their online journey in-store with added assistance and personalisation are high.  


Personalisation and immersive experiences

As B2B customer expectations continue to rise, personalisation strategies are now meeting these demands. Personalisation revolutionises the shopping experience and be propelled by cutting-edge technologies like AI, AR (Augmented Reality), 3D visualization, and VR (Virtual Reality). These technologies enhance both digital and physical interactions, resulting in increased conversion rates. Even in traditionally complex transactions, such as those in real estate, there is a noticeable shift towards VR and immersive digital experiences (Gartner, 2022). These innovations empower customers to engage digitally at every stage of their buying journey. Consequently, companies must adapt by developing agile digital systems, upgrading their technology infrastructure, or forming partnerships to align with the evolving consumer landscape.


Personalisation and immersive experiences

As B2B customer expectations continue to rise, personalisation strategies are now meeting these demands. Personalisation revolutionises the shopping experience and be propelled by cutting-edge technologies like AI, AR (Augmented Reality), 3D visualization, and VR (Virtual Reality). These technologies enhance both digital and physical interactions, resulting in increased conversion rates. Even in traditionally complex transactions, such as those in real estate, there is a noticeable shift towards VR and immersive digital experiences (Gartner, 2022). These innovations empower customers to engage digitally at every stage of their buying journey. Consequently, companies must adapt by developing agile digital systems, upgrading their technology infrastructure, or forming partnerships to align with the evolving consumer landscape.


Personalisation and immersive experiences

As B2B customer expectations continue to rise, personalisation strategies are now meeting these demands. Personalisation revolutionises the shopping experience and be propelled by cutting-edge technologies like AI, AR (Augmented Reality), 3D visualization, and VR (Virtual Reality). These technologies enhance both digital and physical interactions, resulting in increased conversion rates. Even in traditionally complex transactions, such as those in real estate, there is a noticeable shift towards VR and immersive digital experiences (Gartner, 2022). These innovations empower customers to engage digitally at every stage of their buying journey. Consequently, companies must adapt by developing agile digital systems, upgrading their technology infrastructure, or forming partnerships to align with the evolving consumer landscape.


Personalisation and immersive experiences

As B2B customer expectations continue to rise, personalisation strategies are now meeting these demands. Personalisation revolutionises the shopping experience and be propelled by cutting-edge technologies like AI, AR (Augmented Reality), 3D visualization, and VR (Virtual Reality). These technologies enhance both digital and physical interactions, resulting in increased conversion rates. Even in traditionally complex transactions, such as those in real estate, there is a noticeable shift towards VR and immersive digital experiences (Gartner, 2022). These innovations empower customers to engage digitally at every stage of their buying journey. Consequently, companies must adapt by developing agile digital systems, upgrading their technology infrastructure, or forming partnerships to align with the evolving consumer landscape.


Composable e-commerce and automation

To meet changing demands, B2B firms are transitioning to cloud-native composable commerce architectures, offering customisable headless solutions through API-based, microservices applications. These composable applications enhance business functions and support more customer touchpoints with reduced overhead. These tech plugins have various uses, from improving user experience to streamlining operations and boosting profitability. They provide user-friendly tools for browsing, personalised quotes, integrated chat features, AI deployment, real-time order management, and versatile services. These services benefit both new and returning customers, offering easy account management and the option for digital or human interaction. They can be used across multiple touchpoints, creating a truly omnichannel experience. This allows retailers to expand into new territories without heavy reliance on distributors and sales representatives. 

With automation and digital tools, sales and commerce teams are freed from time-consuming tasks, enabling them to focus on customer care and value-added interactions. The sales team's role is shifting to a more consultative one, closely monitoring consumer data and stepping in when their expertise is required. 


Composable e-commerce and automation

To meet changing demands, B2B firms are transitioning to cloud-native composable commerce architectures, offering customisable headless solutions through API-based, microservices applications. These composable applications enhance business functions and support more customer touchpoints with reduced overhead. These tech plugins have various uses, from improving user experience to streamlining operations and boosting profitability. They provide user-friendly tools for browsing, personalised quotes, integrated chat features, AI deployment, real-time order management, and versatile services. These services benefit both new and returning customers, offering easy account management and the option for digital or human interaction. They can be used across multiple touchpoints, creating a truly omnichannel experience. This allows retailers to expand into new territories without heavy reliance on distributors and sales representatives. 

With automation and digital tools, sales and commerce teams are freed from time-consuming tasks, enabling them to focus on customer care and value-added interactions. The sales team's role is shifting to a more consultative one, closely monitoring consumer data and stepping in when their expertise is required. 


Composable e-commerce and automation

To meet changing demands, B2B firms are transitioning to cloud-native composable commerce architectures, offering customisable headless solutions through API-based, microservices applications. These composable applications enhance business functions and support more customer touchpoints with reduced overhead. These tech plugins have various uses, from improving user experience to streamlining operations and boosting profitability. They provide user-friendly tools for browsing, personalised quotes, integrated chat features, AI deployment, real-time order management, and versatile services. These services benefit both new and returning customers, offering easy account management and the option for digital or human interaction. They can be used across multiple touchpoints, creating a truly omnichannel experience. This allows retailers to expand into new territories without heavy reliance on distributors and sales representatives. 

With automation and digital tools, sales and commerce teams are freed from time-consuming tasks, enabling them to focus on customer care and value-added interactions. The sales team's role is shifting to a more consultative one, closely monitoring consumer data and stepping in when their expertise is required. 


Composable e-commerce and automation

To meet changing demands, B2B firms are transitioning to cloud-native composable commerce architectures, offering customisable headless solutions through API-based, microservices applications. These composable applications enhance business functions and support more customer touchpoints with reduced overhead. These tech plugins have various uses, from improving user experience to streamlining operations and boosting profitability. They provide user-friendly tools for browsing, personalised quotes, integrated chat features, AI deployment, real-time order management, and versatile services. These services benefit both new and returning customers, offering easy account management and the option for digital or human interaction. They can be used across multiple touchpoints, creating a truly omnichannel experience. This allows retailers to expand into new territories without heavy reliance on distributors and sales representatives. 

With automation and digital tools, sales and commerce teams are freed from time-consuming tasks, enabling them to focus on customer care and value-added interactions. The sales team's role is shifting to a more consultative one, closely monitoring consumer data and stepping in when their expertise is required. 


Sustainability at the heart of the customer experience

Consumers, particularly Gen Z in Europe and the US, are increasingly demanding sustainability practices in sourcing and procurement. The pursuit of carbon neutrality is reshaping the landscape of commerce. As a result, transparency throughout the end-to-end customer experience and the product lifecycle has become crucial for consumers, and firms can leverage tracking and monitoring technology to communicate a firm's  carbon neutrality and product lifecycles. This is particularly vital for B2B firms whose customers are prioritising carbon targets and placing significant emphasis on this metric. Consequently, sustainability has emerged as a primary focus in B2B digital marketing to boost sales potential. 


Sustainability at the heart of the customer experience

Consumers, particularly Gen Z in Europe and the US, are increasingly demanding sustainability practices in sourcing and procurement. The pursuit of carbon neutrality is reshaping the landscape of commerce. As a result, transparency throughout the end-to-end customer experience and the product lifecycle has become crucial for consumers, and firms can leverage tracking and monitoring technology to communicate a firm's  carbon neutrality and product lifecycles. This is particularly vital for B2B firms whose customers are prioritising carbon targets and placing significant emphasis on this metric. Consequently, sustainability has emerged as a primary focus in B2B digital marketing to boost sales potential. 


Sustainability at the heart of the customer experience

Consumers, particularly Gen Z in Europe and the US, are increasingly demanding sustainability practices in sourcing and procurement. The pursuit of carbon neutrality is reshaping the landscape of commerce. As a result, transparency throughout the end-to-end customer experience and the product lifecycle has become crucial for consumers, and firms can leverage tracking and monitoring technology to communicate a firm's  carbon neutrality and product lifecycles. This is particularly vital for B2B firms whose customers are prioritising carbon targets and placing significant emphasis on this metric. Consequently, sustainability has emerged as a primary focus in B2B digital marketing to boost sales potential. 


Sustainability at the heart of the customer experience

Consumers, particularly Gen Z in Europe and the US, are increasingly demanding sustainability practices in sourcing and procurement. The pursuit of carbon neutrality is reshaping the landscape of commerce. As a result, transparency throughout the end-to-end customer experience and the product lifecycle has become crucial for consumers, and firms can leverage tracking and monitoring technology to communicate a firm's  carbon neutrality and product lifecycles. This is particularly vital for B2B firms whose customers are prioritising carbon targets and placing significant emphasis on this metric. Consequently, sustainability has emerged as a primary focus in B2B digital marketing to boost sales potential. 


Leveraging data intelligently

Today's buyers have specific product and solution requirements, spanning performance standards, component sizes, pricing expectations, and material sourcing. Therefore, customer data plays a pivotal role in customising product configurations, optimising inventory, and driving manufacturing innovations that align with market demands and customer needs. Commerce firms adopting advanced analytics and data-driven product strategies are poised for enhanced personalisation and growth.  

In this changing landscape, the role of the seller is shifting from being a source of product and industry information to that of a guide, assisting customers in navigating information and making choices in line with their objectives. Successful sellers will adopt a more consultative approach, helping buyers navigate evolving industry dynamics and regulatory challenges to facilitate purchasing decisions and reduce uncertainty. Moreover, data-driven personalisation features can provide customers with automated recommendations for complementary add-ons, equipment, and accessories, ultimately boosting sales. 


Leveraging data intelligently

Today's buyers have specific product and solution requirements, spanning performance standards, component sizes, pricing expectations, and material sourcing. Therefore, customer data plays a pivotal role in customising product configurations, optimising inventory, and driving manufacturing innovations that align with market demands and customer needs. Commerce firms adopting advanced analytics and data-driven product strategies are poised for enhanced personalisation and growth.  

In this changing landscape, the role of the seller is shifting from being a source of product and industry information to that of a guide, assisting customers in navigating information and making choices in line with their objectives. Successful sellers will adopt a more consultative approach, helping buyers navigate evolving industry dynamics and regulatory challenges to facilitate purchasing decisions and reduce uncertainty. Moreover, data-driven personalisation features can provide customers with automated recommendations for complementary add-ons, equipment, and accessories, ultimately boosting sales. 


Leveraging data intelligently

Today's buyers have specific product and solution requirements, spanning performance standards, component sizes, pricing expectations, and material sourcing. Therefore, customer data plays a pivotal role in customising product configurations, optimising inventory, and driving manufacturing innovations that align with market demands and customer needs. Commerce firms adopting advanced analytics and data-driven product strategies are poised for enhanced personalisation and growth.  

In this changing landscape, the role of the seller is shifting from being a source of product and industry information to that of a guide, assisting customers in navigating information and making choices in line with their objectives. Successful sellers will adopt a more consultative approach, helping buyers navigate evolving industry dynamics and regulatory challenges to facilitate purchasing decisions and reduce uncertainty. Moreover, data-driven personalisation features can provide customers with automated recommendations for complementary add-ons, equipment, and accessories, ultimately boosting sales. 


Leveraging data intelligently

Today's buyers have specific product and solution requirements, spanning performance standards, component sizes, pricing expectations, and material sourcing. Therefore, customer data plays a pivotal role in customising product configurations, optimising inventory, and driving manufacturing innovations that align with market demands and customer needs. Commerce firms adopting advanced analytics and data-driven product strategies are poised for enhanced personalisation and growth.  

In this changing landscape, the role of the seller is shifting from being a source of product and industry information to that of a guide, assisting customers in navigating information and making choices in line with their objectives. Successful sellers will adopt a more consultative approach, helping buyers navigate evolving industry dynamics and regulatory challenges to facilitate purchasing decisions and reduce uncertainty. Moreover, data-driven personalisation features can provide customers with automated recommendations for complementary add-ons, equipment, and accessories, ultimately boosting sales. 

Define your customer

D

D

D

What will be the trigger that leads the customer to need you?

collage showing progress

In B2B e-commerce, every transaction involves a complex decision-making process with various stakeholders. Recognising the diversity of buyers and their business models is crucial for success. To thrive, you must deeply understand your customers, where they gather information, and why they engage with your platform. This knowledge forms the basis for creating effective customer journeys that convert needs into purchases.

Identify customer profiles before diving into your digital strategy. Each profile has unique needs, preferences, and objectives. Avoid one-size-fits-all approaches; instead, create and refine multiple customer personas to effectively segment your audience. Successful B2B commerce firms emphasise tailoring digital platforms to cater to the distinct needs of these customer personas and delivering value propositions.

In the sphere of B2B e-commerce, every transaction is more than just a purchase; it is a multifaceted decision-making process involving numerous stakeholders. Additionally, B2B e-commerce is a complex ecosystem that encompasses a wide range of online transactions and business models. Therefore, it's imperative to recognise that not all buyers and their business models are equal. To succeed in this dynamic landscape, you must gain a deep understanding of who your customers are, how and where business buyers get their information from, and why they engage with your platform. This behavioural understanding and knowledge are the foundations upon which you can build meaningful customer journeys that convert needs into consideration and ultimately, purchases.

Are they looking for a bulk-order reorder? The requisitioning or sourcing of a new supplier? A highly technical piece of equipment? Are they expanding their product offering? 

Before delving into your digital playbook, it is essential to identify the individual customer profiles you intend to target. Each of these profiles represents a unique set of needs, preferences, and objectives. Remember, one-size-fits-all approaches to B2B e-commerce are ineffective and outdated. Creating and refining multiple customer personas is a best practice that helps you segment your audience effectively. Successful B2B commerce firms have demonstrated the importance of this customer-centric tailoring of their digital platforms to meet the diverse needs of their identified customer personas and in delivering their value propositions.

 

Practical actions to take

Define and decide

Define and identify key customer profiles or personas for your website. These personas represent your target clients or visitor types. The number of personas required depends on your product/service range and industry focus.

Start with one persona, analysing their search intentions, business goals, needs, requirements, budgets, frustrations, and stakeholders in purchasing decisions. This helps refine parameters for tracking and engaging your audience, enhancing your value proposition.

B2B e-commerce success often comes from tailored product content and interfaces that cater to defined customers, aligning with their industry and buyer's needs. Understanding your target audience can uncover new audiences, expanding your Total Addressable Market potential (TAM).

Decide who your key customer profiles are; every website should cater to a visitor or customer type. These are personas, fictional characters that represent specific target clients or other visitor types. The number of personas you need depends on the variety and scope of products or services you offer and the industry you wish to target.   

To begin, start with one persona and consider their search intentions, goals in their business, the needs to be served, requirements, budgets, potential frustrations, and stakeholders over the purchasing decisions and examine any influencing forces. Building these personas can help curate persona parameters in which you are able to track and engage target audiences and establish a better understanding of your value proposition. Successful B2B e-commerce firms have shown priority towards website product content and tailored interfaces for their defined customers, highlighting a deeper acknowledgement aligned with the buyer’s intended customers and particular industry, and demonstrating their ability to help businesses succeed. By examining your target audience, you may uncover alternative audiences which you can nurture to increase your Total Addressable Market potential (TAM).

 

Engage and research

Engaging with your actual customers is invaluable for testing your site's appeal. User research, done in collaboration with customer success and sales teams, provides real-time insights into visitor behaviour. This research involves techniques like user journey mapping, behaviour analysis, interviews, and facial expressions. E-commerce journeys are task-oriented, so experience blueprints tie these journeys across time and touchpoints while highlighting important enabling processes and tools.

Encourage product teams to adopt a customer-focused approach to better understand thoughts, actions, and needs. They focus on feedback, involving different teams and stakeholders in journey mapping. This approach yields a prioritised series of problem statements for e-commerce. The goal is to observe and test user experiences to identify enhancement opportunities in UI design, product messaging, and purchase functionality, following user-centred design. Customer journey mapping can benefit from data analytics for more personalised insights.

 

Engaging with your actual customers is invaluable, and a great way to test your site’s appeal. User research, conducted in collaboration with your customer success and sales teams, provides real-time insights into visitor behaviour and feedback. After all, buyers want to have a great rapport with sales and account reps who will look out for their best interests. This research may involve techniques such as user journey mapping and behaviour analysis techniques, such as eye-tracking of UI (User Interface) interactions, interview responses, and facial expressions. Remember e-commerce purchasing journeys are task-oriented, with clear completion stages in the journey, so the experience blueprint will tie together these task-oriented journeys across time and touchpoints/channels, as well as show what the enabling processes and tools are important for the specific purchasing journey.

 

Encourage product teams to adopt a customer-focused approach to better understand your customers' thoughts, actions, and needs. Unlike sales forces, they do not sell or cross-sell, they focus on feedback. Involve different teams and stakeholders in the journey mapping process, given that customer purchasing decisions are influenced across your companies' customer touch points, such as your marketing efforts.

 

This curated approach to user research can reward e-commerce with a prioritised and relevant series of problem statements. The objective is to observe and test user experiences of key user journeys on the website to identify opportunities for enhancements in platform UI (User Interface) design, product messaging, and purchase functionality, turning pain points into opportunities supported by validated business cases. This practice is better known as user-centred design. Additionally, Customer journey mapping can be enhanced through data analytics of customer touchpoints, by providing more personalised and localised insights.  

 

Measure and analysis


Measure your engagement strategies' success and track customer decision-making and purchasing journeys through data from interviews, surveys, focus groups, and analytics. Web metrics like visits and bounce rates gain significance when viewed in the context of specific customer personas and initial touchpoints.

User testing metrics, like System Usability Scores (SUS) and Single Ease Questions (SEQ), serve as proxies for website usability. A/B testing, or split testing, is a great method to compare variations of webpages or marketing elements and improve performance. Test colloquial or industry-specific messaging for effective customer engagement.

Continuously adapt your approach to evolving customer personas and industry dynamics to maintain a customer centric B2B e-commerce platform. Leverage Customer Data Platforms (CDP) for data analysis and personalisation strategies to refine the purchasing journey.

Measure the success of your engagement strategies and track your customers' decision-making and purchasing journeys through actionable insights and data sources. Make sure you are gathering data from the right sources, such as interviews, surveys, focus groups and analytics. While traditional web metrics like visits and bounce rates are valuable, they become even more meaningful when interpreted within the context of specific customer personas and their initial journey touchpoints. Consider every feasible way your customer can interact with your company; the list will vary depending on the scope or specialisation of your product or service offering.

Metrics from user testing, such as System Usability Scores (SUS) and Single Ease Questions (SEQ), provide a proxy measure of website usability. These metrics help identify which parts of your interface may pose challenges and how customers perceive their overall experience. A fantastic way to test different marketing content or website user interfaces is to conduct an A/B test with different customer segments to build targeted approaches. Also known as split testing, it is a powerful technique to evaluate and improve the performance by comparing two or more variations (A, B, C, etc.) of a webpage, or other marketing elements, to determine which one yields better results. For instance, colloquial or industry specific messaging should be tested to find the most effective solutions to engage and build relationships with different customers. 

Continuously monitor and refine your approach over time as customer personas evolve and adapt to changes in industry dynamics. By doing so, your B2B e-commerce platform will remain agile, responsive, and customer centric. Furthermore, Customer Data Platforms (CDP) can be used to host current customer data to be analysed and integrated into personalisation strategies. Leveraging these, you can generate data-based problem definition hypotheses to start creating business-justified requirements for the next phase to improve the purchasing journey.


B-2-Be a Winner! APM Terminal Case Study

APM Terminals stands as an exemplary B2B firm, exhibiting remarkable digital leadership that has redefined the landscape of logistics supply chain management and e-commerce. The digital transformation stems from their profound understanding of their customers, leading to the seamless integration of digital tools that not only streamline the customer journey but add value while mitigating operational bottlenecks. APM Terminal’s data-driven strategy uses a combination of cloud services to handle integrations across B2B, E-invoicing and an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration with partners and customers. This robust cloud infrastructure ensures the most secure and reliable communication ecosystem for their clients.

APM Terminal invested heavily in understanding their customers' needs as part of developing their digital strategy. This helped them identify and then solve the complex issues customers face when ordering and tracking shipping containers. Through customer feedback and web analytics, they understood that clients who use multiple software tools wanted a way to bring APM Terminals data into their systems, processes and across applications. In response, they launched the developer-friendly API store opening a new revenue stream for APM Terminals, with zero marginal cost. This enhanced digital connectivity across the purchase journey helps a range of stakeholders including APM’s Terminal Operating Systems, into their internal systems such as Logistics or Transport Management Systems (TMS). Customers could now buy respective API capabilities tailored to their supply chain needs. Access to critical container, terminal or appointment data can now be achieved securely and cost-effectively, and crucially, in real-time. The integration of such data signifies an opportunity for customers, providing them with the data-driven tools necessary for real-time decision-making. This, thereby improving their supply chain processes and enhancing overall operational efficiency, illustrates APM Terminals' commitment to improving the customer journey beyond the point of transaction.

APM Terminal’s fusion of IoT sensors with advanced artificial intelligence enables customers to promptly select automated repairs or solutions for their containers at terminals, creating a streamlined and impactful upselling strategy. Customers can also request additional services - such as container fumigation or photography – which used to be processed and managed by email, phone or in person. This service not only elevates the customer experience but also bolsters revenue generation. Furthermore, the company has expanded its service portfolio to include Truck Appointment Systems (TAS), enabling flexible transfer and deployment options. Customers can now easily book, merge, and reschedule slots for container drop-off and pick-up, thus improving customer retention rates. Furthermore, they now have the opportunity to offer dynamic pricing to incentivise appointments at quieter times to manage terminal traffic flow.

Lastly, APM Terminals offers a suite of personalised services on the website, including tracking alerts, shipping line dashboards, saved container watchlists, and email notifications. The benefit of these capabilities is that they provide entry points for the customer into or to continue the e-commerce journey, providing a self-service journey for the customer and additional incremental revenue to APM Terminals. These features form a robust delivery tracking system that enhances transparency for customers.

Justify the customer's purchasing decision

Smiling man sat at the computer online shopping for coats
Smiling man sat at the computer online shopping for coats

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

Your website has gained a new visitor, and securing their attention in B2B e-commerce purchasing behaviour requires efficient content and marketing strategies. The initial interaction sets the stage for trust-building and future engagement, making the first impression crucial in line with identified customer personas. 

To cater effectively to diverse customer personas, implement a robust product or service and supplier information governance framework. This framework ensures a seamless and personalised experience by matching the right products, services, or suppliers with unique customer requirements. 

Streamline website content to align with what customers are seeking, focusing on their needs rather than internal structure. Emphasise your product, service, or supplier's value propositions to stand out in quality or cost compared to competitors, always in the context of meeting the customer's specific business needs. 

Actions you can take

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Align and prioritise

Align your Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation SEO, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and content strategies to ensure you rank where it matters. High organic search results are e-commerce essential. Implement content governance and prioritise in-demand products or services for better SEO. Use industry-specific terms in the backend to cater to diverse customer knowledge levels. Inbound links boost credibility and serve as effective B2B marketing, be sure to keep your XML sitemap updated and use SEO tools for auditing and tracking. 

Embrace programmatic Account Based Marketing (ABM) for personalised B2B messaging. Consistency in user experiences drives loyalty and conversions. Account management personalizes content. Design Systems ensure consistency and mobile optimisation for SEO. Optimise for mobile and alternative devices due to varied purchasing channels. 

Use Google Ads geo-targeting to bridge online and in-store experiences for nearby customers and local SEO enhances visibility in map listings. Implement multi-language content management for global reach and include geolocation features, native currency forecasting, and local sizing data for international strategies. 

  • 54% of US and UK marketers expect to spend more on content creation and strategy in 2023 (Integrate and Demand Metric, 2023)  


Focus and engage

Focus on the customer discovery phase in B2B e-commerce. The landscape is evolving rapidly with more touchpoints in the buyer's journey (according to McKinsey, touchpoints have doubled since 2016!). Buyers access your site through various channels like emails, in-person interactions, phone calls, supplier websites, mobile apps, and more. Align your content with these touchpoints and capture data on buying preferences and behaviours to better match products with customer needs. Retail Media Networks (RMNs) leverage customer data for advertising and enhance traffic across digital and physical stores.  

B2B firms should develop sales channels and social media strategies, including one-click checkout and mobile-friendly product catalogues. For many customers, the preferred point of sale is shifting, from in-stores to e-commerce and into nearly all social media platforms and mobile apps. In the East, the ad-to-purchase funnel has boosted customer engagement and is expected to spread to the US and European markets. Social commerce accelerates the shift from in-store to e-commerce, with 87% of consumers acting after encountering products on social media or websites (Nosto). Leveraging influencer and user-generated content (UGC) plays a valuable role in enhancing customer engagement and advocacy, much like B2C strategies.

The metaverse offers new opportunities for engaging content by online influencers, but brands should carefully consider sustainable revenue growth versus marketing value in this space. The use-case for metaverse investments is yet to be proven (IMRG).

  • 78% of buyers use multiple channels to start and complete a transaction (Salesforce, 2023)   

  • 66% of buyers now opt for remote human interactions or digital self-service (McKinsey, 2021) 


Consider and convert

Consider the anonymous visitor, who will be the majority, and facilitate frictionless access to remove any barriers to them getting the information they need through a carefully considered navigation and breadcrumb implementation.  Converting high-intent anonymous visitors into known ones is a valuable opportunity. Strengthen relationships across application stacks like research, cart, and checkout by offering membership benefits, industry insights, and search guidance. Add competitor comparisons and retargeting ads for improved conversion rates. 

For new omnichannel customers, create customer service tickets and send targeted marketing materials to them for a personalised approach to customer success. After-sales services can enhance trust and encourage the sharing of personal details for customisation. Guest checkouts can highlight the benefits of creating a business account, and offering trade credit, discounts, and promotions. 

Use ABM tools to identify the visitor's company and personalise based on sector and intent to turn anonymous traffic into valuable leads.  

B-2-Be a Winner! Materials Market Case Study

Materials Market has pioneered customer segmentation and building targeted approaches to e-commerce, setting the standard for innovation and customer-centricity. One of the standout features is their bespoke pricing widget (leveraging Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) technology), utilising innovative machine learning algorithms, empowering customers to customise their pricing options based on product iterations. Customers can instantly see how changes in product specifications impact costs, ensuring transparency and informed decision-making. Furthermore, they have integrated geolocation technology to tailor pricing and delivery options to the specific needs of each customer. This personalised approach enhances the customer experience, fostering trust and loyalty.  

To ensure that customers can easily find the products they need, Market Materials employs a robust SEO strategy. They utilise different keywords in the backend of their website to optimise search engine visibility for a wide range of customer segment key search terms, ensuring that their products rank organically. Upon landing on the Market Materials website, visitors are immediately greeted with clear signposts highlighting the benefits of creating a trade account. This encourages more customers to register and access exclusive features, fostering long-term relationships and repeat business. They also frame the supplier account set-up call-to-action and portals on their landing page; this approach caters to their diverse customer base, empowering suppliers to manage their interactions seamlessly while fostering a sense of partnership. Finally, trade credit and purchasing options are prominently displayed on the landing page, allowing customers to make informed decisions about their buying process. This transparency builds trust and provides convenience for customers, further confirming Market Materials' reputation as a customer-centric platform. 

Market Materials strategically displays top product categories and bestsellers on their homepage, simplifying the product discovery process for customers. Customers can also easily navigate through various product verticals via their sub-page navigation feature. This intuitive navigation system ensures that customers can quickly find the products they need, increasing sales and customer satisfaction. Featuring a carousel of trusted brands bolsters their credibility and reliability in the eyes of customers and instils confidence in the quality and authenticity of their offerings.  Additionally, having bulk discounts as a navigation option empowers buyers to make cost-effective purchases when ordering in larger quantities. They also provide options to view prices inclusive of VAT, simplifying the purchasing process for customers further. 

For customers who require assistance, Market Materials offers a virtual buying assistant alongside contact information to reach sales representatives and customer services. This demonstrates their dedication to providing exceptional support and guidance throughout the purchasing journey. Industry-verified reviews are displayed prominently, highlighting the positive feedback from satisfied customers. This transparency reinforces their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.  

Read on and learn the steps to digital leadership