B2B eCommerce is very unique in that you get contracted pricing and in some cases even a filtered catalog of products based on your contract. You might also get some other B2B goodies like requisition lists, re-ordering, and even “buy on behalf of” but generally, the site shopping experience is almost identical to a B2C site, or at least it should be…
I had the opportunity to meet with a company that is truly tackling B2B with a marketplace approach. Their customers want to go to a single place to buy everything from pencils to televisions to even things like medical equipment. This includes an omni-channel position where things like mobile and web browsing all compliment each other with a consistent experience across their brand. There are many articles on this subject across the internet; for a quick primer check out these if you have some time:
With business e-commerce in the U.S. on track to hit $1.2 trillion by 2021, according to Forrester, it’s crucial for B2B merchants to accelerate their moves toward digital transformation. – Forbes
Those articles point out the obvious, but the one thing they don’t point out is why these various things like millennial’s, social media, mobile, and multi-channel are important. Look no further than retail. The young shoppers of today “expect” a great shopping experience. Things like faceted navigation, natural language search, experiential buying, and differentiated mobile experiences are all going to hit the B2B world just like it hit the B2C world. It may take a bit to get where Luxury Brands are but basic things like great content, imagery, and site layout are and will always be, critical – that pixel perfect experience is, well, expected.
You may recall I predicted this for 2019 in a previous post, Bob’s Top 10 eCommerce Trends for 2019, this was #6:
#6 – B2B and B2C will finally be indistinguishable
Green screen ordering and horrible ordering user interfaces will be a thing of the past. The buying and research experience between B2B and B2C will be identical. Unfortunately, I don’t think EDI is going away any time soon but expect to see much better B2B ordering experiences as we see things like fulfillment and supply chain merge, along with inventory visibility across all stores and DC’s be readily available. – link
This is why having an excellent eCommerce platform that supports the critical B2B stuff like contracts is important but the content management and visuals of an excellent shopping experience you get from the best B2C sites is equally important. Your B2B site should educate, promote, cross-sell, upsell, and even tackle SEO with excellent content to beat the transaction based sites like Amazon. Get to know your customers with analytics and build trust, just like the best of breed B2C brands. eCommerce and content management are critical and when you see and understand what Coremedia has done to integrate its world class CMS with the various eCommerce platforms you will see the day in the life of an eCommerce category or content manager can drastically affect your sites performance and aesthetics.
The videos below are a couple of years old but all completely relevant. Check out this video series I did showing the various integrations Coremedia does with IBM WebSphere Commerce. From eSpot content management to product recommendations across the site the Coremedia Studio lets you completely control the shopping experience across your site.
If you really want to see some cool stuff then check out the post where I show where Coremedia is going with things like video and text over images.