What do you need in an Industrial B2B e-Commerce Website?

A new Forrester Report prioritizes the key areas for retail e-Commerce success. Within each area it lists features and functions essential to creating a superior user experience and maximizing site conversion rates. Although it focuses on B2C e-Commerce, we know that expectations set by B2C sites soon transfer to B2B sites. Therefore the report is useful to B2B e-Commerce pros too. In this post we've followed the Forrester® notation and conclusions, and applied them to the specific case of B2B Industrial eCommerce websites. Enjoy.

Here are the 4 areas:

  • Website Features - On-site search, Taxonomy, Navigation and Category pages
  • Product Pages - Product detail page Imagery, Product description, Other selling tools
  • Effective Checkout - Checkout processes to ensure purchase completion
  • Essential Tools - e-Commerce tools that drive engagement and loyalty; Alternative payment methods, Order processing, Saved carts.

And here's our application of them to industrial B2B e-Commerce. We recognize that the buying process has changed - most research is done online before even talking to a sales rep and a successful e-Commerce effort needs to map to the modern buying process. We wholeheartedly agree with Forrester that, “the site experience Is critical" and that, "the most critical determinants of success are the features and functionality that a site employs during the key moments of a transaction.”

  • Website Features – Taxonomy of the product set with visual navigation is key. But it needs to be supported by on-site search, specifically faceted search that works with the taxonomy.
  • Product Pages - We agree, ”the more visual the tool, the better." Product detail pages are where product selection happens and as they say, “you can never have too much detail on a product detail page." Product pictures and images need to be high quality. For industrial products 3D CAD models of products need to be available. CAD viewers need to allow zoom, pan, rotate and measure. Product descriptions need to be thorough and include downloadable 2D spec sheets and drawings for inclusion in design calculations, references and specifications. Other visual selling tools like Configurators for configurable products and downloadable 3D CAD product models should be included to ensure you are helping users 'design in' your products.
  • When a CAD model is downloaded, how often is the physical part purchased? Effective Checkout - Processes that ensure purchase completion because they give Buyers confidence in their product selection, your order handling and checkout processes.
  • Essential Tools - In the B2B industrial space, the product selector (usually the Designer) and the Buyer are often two different people. Therefore selection and purchase are often two separate processes executed at different times. Fortunately the two processes, and the two people, can be bridged in a unique industrial way. Designers select the right product, download your 3D CAD model and include it (along with your part number) in their design. When the design is approved, the Buyer references it and orders your part. Online registration by the Designer, prior to 3D CAD download, provides a sales lead. It also alerts you to creation of new designs that include your products. Inclusion of these leads in your CRM and distribution to your sales team and partners can expand sales opportunities. For Buyers, alternative payment methods, current pricing (personalized to particular customers by login), current product availability and order tracking can ensure their confidence in your e-Commerce.

If you too struggle to prioritize B2B e-Commerce issues, we hope this helps you figure out which are most important for success. With respect to this question also see our pages on industrial content and functionality.

That’s our take, what’s yours? Please let us know below.

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