What Functionality does an Industrial Supplier Website Need?
What constitutes GOOD functionality in a B2B industrial website? [Also see what constitutes GOOD content within a B2B industrial website]
The answer is functionality that produces an excellent user experience for your target customers and is superior to that of your competitors. Those target customers are likely familiar with leading industrial supplier sites such as McMaster-Carr®, Grainger® or Amazon® and accustomed to ease of use. For example, intuitive website search should ensure they easily find exactly what they need. With CDS's help you can achieve that kind of user experience at a small fraction of the cost expended on the in-house web teams of those companies.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - potential customers may not even know of your products, your company or your website. Most likely will use a search engine to try and find what they need. Good SEO ensures your website and specifically your products get found when they search online. Driving high-quality traffic to your site is one of the top priorities for B2B ecommerce, along with optimizing the visitor experience. This is achieved with dynamically created, SEO-optimized landing pages that are indexed by search engines to make more of your content find-able and so deliver high-quality organic search traffic to your site. Organic traffic is traffic 'organically' generated from search engines because of the usefulness of your pages and, other than the cost of building and maintaining a good SEO site, you don't pay for it. With good content and good SEO organic traffic can be abundant - see adjacent chart of AST Bearings exponential website traffic growth using CDS B2B ecommerce tools. If your organic traffic is abundant you don't necessarily need to do paid search at all although it usually brings additional traffic. Bottom line, good content and good SEO are essential to drive search traffic to your website. However, achieving an SEO website puts a ton of requirements on the platform you choose so select your catalog platform carefully to ensure that whatever functionality your SEO team requires is included.
- A digital parts catalog with extensive, powerful and user friendly site search tools. SEO gets visitors to your website but your catalog search ensures they find the part they need.Your website search should enable search results to be funneled using filters, facets and sort facilities in order to find the right product. The filters should be completely adaptable to the data, for example, tables, checkboxes, radio buttons, pull downs and sliders. Facets allow the customer to "filter" product categories according to their specific needs, limiting the number of products displayed by properties like 'diameter', 'material', price range etc.
- An intuitive interface that makes it easy for your website’s visitors to find, select and order the right product.
- Guided Navigation - Give your customers the best of both worlds with connected search and navigation to guide site visitors to the most relevant products with a consistent experience across both navigation and search.
- Match the look and feel of your website - any and all products that you use to deliver functionality should be customizable to adopt the same look and feel as your website via access to templates and CSS for full control of the site behavior. Be able to preview your changes before they go live.
- Product images or optional CAD models - images (or multiple images) are very important to assist product selection but there is an even more powerful alternative - particularly for industrial suppliers. CAD models offer more flexible viewing (all within a browser) than simple images - zoom, pan, rotate, etc.enable visitors to see products from any angle and are also a powerful tool for embedding your products in prospect's CAD designs as they build them. Additionally if users will have to draw your parts in their CAD system designs, then offer them downloadable 3D CAD models of your products to save them time. In return as your parts are downloaded and included in those designs so will your part numbers in their Bill of Materials (BOM) ready for later purchase. Of course images and CAD models aren't mutually exclusive - use both! So your solution needs to support both these visualization alternatives.
- Analytics - having the ability to track visitor traffic sources and visitor behavior is the first step needed to optimizing website content to achieve identified conversion goals. It must be easy to add your search queries to Google Analytics or any other analytics tool. For example, the analytics should enable you to review the number of times a product or keyword has been searched, the conversion rate associated with the search, and the average order value of each conversion.You will you know what’s bringing your visitors to your site you will see what those visitors are doing and why they are not converting into paid customers. With this information, you’ll be able to keep your site current, relevant and optimized to improve the ROI of your site’s SEO campaign.
- ecommerce - how do you want to transact online? At the least offer RFQs (Request for Quotes) but consider a shopping cart too. Obviously if you offer a shopping cart, pricing and stock availability data will be required, possibly order tracking data too. Integration both with 3rd party shopping cart solutions and the data sources of your pricing, stock and shipping data must be straightforward.
- Cross-Sells and Up-Sells - a recommendation engine that “knows” your products and suggests additional items that may be of interest to your customers while they’re searching. From the landing page to the shopping cart good merchandizing technology draws from real-time search and behavioral analytics data to bring up additional products your customers may like and increase your average order value. A Cross-Sell widget should be insertable at various stages of the purchase process product page, shopping cart, checkout page and more.to show recommendations where they will be most effective, for increased average order value, time on site and reduced bounce rates. Those recommendations should be customizable on different pages by logic, including bought-also-bought, popular searches, products related by attribute or top sellers.
- Syndication to other websites - who else promotes or sell your products online? Resellers? Distributors? Select a solution that can syndicate your product content to your partners. The info must automatically stay up-to-date and be capable of presentation in different sites look and feel.
- SaaS - enables continuity - the hosting, upgrades and updates are included automatically. Your solution is always up-to-date with new innovations. that improve functionality and give you even higher conversion rates.
- Auto-complete - as users type automatically offer the most likely word they are typing
- Fast page delivery - typically within 3 seconds worldwide
- Ability to integrate via web services with other applications, for example, ERP systems to query pricing or enter new orders, CRM system to enter new sales leads, CMS systems you may be using (such as Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, HubSpot, etc.)
- Optional Configurators - if you offer custom or configurable products offer users online configurators for those products. A configurator is a product configuration tool that enables visitors to quickly design and get quotes for your custom products online. It enables you capture engineering knowledge and using this to automate key business processes and accelerate sales - sales proposals, BOMs, Routes, 3D CAD Models & 2D Drawings, and more can be instantly generated. In functionality terms a configurator should:
- Ensure accuracy and eliminate data-entry errors, while freeing your product experts from answering repetitive product questions during the sales quoting cycle
- Display price, lead time, availability, potential up-sells and cross-sells in real-time
- Offer dynamic generation of 3D product CAD models
- Constrain options based on product compatibility rules
- Promote product upsells and cross-sells through recommended options
- Create bills-of-material (BOM) and routings based on configurator choices
- Support complex sizing calculations and engineered-option algorithm
- Generate customer-friendly quotes & proposals based on configuration choices
- Integrate seamlessly with existing ERP, PLM and CAD systems, helping custom product manufacturers respond to customer-specific orders more rapidly, accurately and efficiently
- Localization - your website needs to be able to 'speak' any language over time by editing in translations to create a multilingual website
- Support - whenever you need help vendor support must be available and not rest until it works
- Future proof - whatever solution you choose ensure its expansion and customization ability will accommodate future changes and requirements
This list is intended simply to guide you to consider all these potential areas of functionality. Some you'll definitely need initially others you'll likely grow into over time. If you'd like to discuss your situation and hear our recommendations, please request a demo today!