5 Tips for Success for B2B eCommerce Retailers

5 Tips for Success for B2B eCommerce Retailers

Last week’s blog post, centered around the rise of B2B eCommerce outlined the immense potential traditional business retailers have by adopting a digital-first strategy. In this article, we’ve gathered our top 5 insights B2B brands can leverage to further develop and grow their B2B offering, to take advantage of the recent surge in online transactions.

Attract customers using organic and paid marketing

An organic, as well as paid marketing media strategy that involves an SEO strategy, will help drive relevant users to your website. This could take the form of social media marketing, display and banners ads, emails, and press releases to drive traffic and generate leads using content offers.

Focus on stellar customer experience

Traditionally, a B2B purchase involves far less emotional appeal compared to a B2C one, and they also involve many more stakeholders in a relatively standardized purchase journey. However, rest assured that customer experience is still at the top of the list of important factors to lock in a B2B sale. 

  • A fast, responsive and easily navigable website that offers intuitive search results that can also be accessed from multiple devices is key. Optimization for mobile is a trend in B2B eCommerce that most organizations are adopting to reach the millennials involved in the purchase process. An omnichannel strategy can also help in gathering data around the customer’s preferences. W. W. Grainger, which scores in the top tier on distributor B2B surveys, recently introduced a visual search on its mobile app1
  • Order approval workflows should be able to accommodate multiple parties and roles in the buying committees.
  • Personalization and user journeys are equally important to take into consideration. Unique personal content such as personalized product catalogs will appeal to your customer’s needs. Further, adjust cross-selling and upselling suggestions based on the user’s purchase history. 
  • Sales teams have to be rearranged. With marketplaces taking a chunk out of traditional B2B sales, sales teams have to be reconfigured to offer personal connection, advice, broader expertise and build relationships2. According to a Forrester Research study, 68% of B2B buyers prefer doing business online versus with a salesperson, and when they engage with sales, they want that experience to be in a more problem-solving, consultative manner3.
  • Take customer feedback into account. Reliable customer support both during and after-sale is vital. Existing customers are a goldmine of feedback. 
  • AI and automation are increasingly being put to use to take the drudgery and paperwork out of the purchase process. Chatbots that are available 24/7 and also upsell and cross-sell products. At Genesys, the chatbot feature resulted in a whopping 50% less cart abandonment4
  • More information on product pages, different product views, and supporting information such as videos are even more important in B2B eCommerce, especially if you’re selling in bulk. More information will reduce communications, returns, and complaints5.

Pick the right B2B eCommerce technology platform

The architecture for your site is based on both customer need and maturity. Is it commerce-led, content-led, side-by-side or a pure headless model? Choosing the right platform that can handle all your needs can make or break your online offer. Developing an MVP (minimum viable product) can also shorten time to market and leave room to develop features based on feedback from customers. 

Flexible ordering, payment and pricing options

B2B customers need much more leeway with their ordering and custom pricing options as opposed to B2C customers. You have to be able to take purchase orders and credit applications into account and offer digital invoices, various payment methods, and a real-time snapshot of inventory. Incentivize new customers with free trials, reduced shipping costs, or a money-back guarantee. You can entice existing customers with easy order replenishment or loyalty rewards for repeat purchases such as discounts, tiered incentives, access to new features or a complimentary service.

Use social media marketing and user-generated content

Social media can not only be used to drive customers to your site but also for customer engagement. LinkedIn and Twitter are highly popular with B2B companies in regard to connecting with their audiences through text, podcasts, and video, gaining insights via feedback, providing thought leadership, and learning about their buyer persona. They can help funnel the customer from the education and awareness stage towards actual promotional content. Intel (@Intel) with its 4.8million followers is a great example of a B2B Twitter presence6. Publishing customer reviews are another way of establishing authenticity and credibility by driving user-generated content7.

As a leading systems integrator for platforms such as SAP Commerce Cloud, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Commerce, BigCommerce, Shopify Plus, commercetools, VTEX, and Elastic Path, BORN Group is well-qualified to assess and advise you on the best platform to meet your unique needs.

For more information around BORN Group’s B2B offerings, please visit here.

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Footnotes

1. Grainger eyes a big future for its new mobile visual search tool, Nov 2019, Digitalcommerce360.

2. In 2021, B2B Marketing And Sales Become More Human, Thanks To Tech, Forrester Research, Nov 2020, https://go.forrester.com/what-it-means/ep193-b2b-marketing-sales-predictions-2021/

3. The Death Of A (B2B) Salesman, Forrester Research, May 2017, https://go.forrester.com/what-it-means/ep12-death-b2b-salesman/

4. The Total Economic Impact of the Genesys Omnichannel Engagement Centre Solution, Forrester, Feb 2016, https://genbin.genesys.com/old/resources/TEI_Case_Study_Genesys_-_2052016_FINAL.pdf

5. Rethink the B2B Buyer’s Journey, LinkedIn, https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/marketing-solutions/global/en_US/campaigns/pdfs/rethink-b2b-buyers-journey-v03.09-eng-us.pdf

6. 5 Top B2B Brands Delivering Exemplary Twitter Engagement, Toprankblog.com, Sep 2019, https://www.toprankblog.com/2019/09/exemplary-twitter-engagement/

7. The Rise of B2B Product Reviews,  https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/marketing-solutions/resources/pdfs/linkedin-crowd-b2b-product-review-book.pdf

SMOC: BORN’s Strategic Headless Framework

SMOC: BORN’s Strategic Headless Framework

Connecting the cornerstones of headless commerce for a secure and robust solution.

Having taken over the digital world by storm, headless commerce has provided marketers the tools to merchandise and personalize the customer journey. The innovative architecture behind headless decouples the front end and back end of your eCommerce shop to empower more effective content distribution while maintaining rich back end solutions. We’ve broken down the four major benefits of headless; Speed, Flexibility and Adaptability, Customization and Personalization, and Omnichannel in the diagram below.

The Benefits of Going Headless

Headless has changed the way we implement commerce solutions and manage content, and that’s why we at BORN have developed the SMOC framework to help break down how we approach a headless implementation. SMOC relates to four concepts; Security, Microservices, Omnichannel, and Cloud-Native that we structure our headless implementations around.

It’s critical that we consider security during a headless implementation when there are so many pieces being connected to one another. Securing both sides of content and commerce data in your solution is one of the processes we don’t find adequately covered in traditional frameworks – for us here at BORN, it remains our number one priority.

Ensuring effective cybersecurity for your commerce begins with effective fraud and cart solutions to prevent hackers from abusing your eCommerce functionalities. Headless solutions also conceal CMS functionality via layer abstraction, affording a level of privacy not found in a more traditional approach. The unique uniform data approach also ensures a more easily monitored system, given that features are not bound together where they can potentially bloat another. Other benefits of a secure headless solution is in its read-only APIs – with your solution decoupled, most APIs are processed in a read-only mode and therefore tamper free.  For potential security breaches of the backend, we advise a cloud-native solution so that support can be delivered at a much higher rate, and security protocols are standardized and up to date.

The next component of our framework is microservices which consists of a single application composed of many loosely coupled and independently deployable components. Microservices are bound by APIs and serve as the various use-cases in a build. In exchange for demanding a more expanded team of many experts, a microservice based implementation strengthens an offering by offering a wider array of functionalities that are not bogged down together in bulk as one might find in a traditional implementation. As these functionalities are maintained more independently, they can be reviewed and updated at a much faster clip than when these services are not bundled together as each microservice manages its own data and is self-developed. APIs in turn help exchange data between bundled microservices to quickly adjust and calculate throughout channels.

Next comes omnichannel, which is the ability to deliver a cross-channel strategy that improves user experience and ultimately, drives customer retention. An example in action is to consider how a customer ought to have the ability to switch from an in-store interaction to online, and then to a call-center with the consistency of a single cart and account recognition. Omnichannel solutions have taken the CX world by storm – by connecting multiple touchpoints with a single customer experience, brands widen their sales funnel to capture a far broader customer base. We’ve seen exceptional success in powering omnichannel solutions for brands like iShopChangi, Diesel, and Paul Stuart – with ample case studies that illustrate the success of omnichannel efforts in commerce.

However, legacy eCommerce systems can suffer when handling all the inputs and requests of the many channels available. Omnichannel solutions greatly benefit from strong headless solutions due to the nature of the decoupled CMS. Having a myriad of assisted channels to utilize your effective front-end will deliver exceptional user interest and a more seamless experience. By decoupling the two layers, developers can focus on specific channels when needed with far more precision.

Finally, we have Cloud-Native – this refers to the ability to scale your commerce solution infinitely, through holiday rushes and other events that would cause an increased number of users. Where Cloud-Native excels is by ensuring you do not need to rely on local devices, servers, or any particular machine in order to access the files that power your commerce solution. A cloud solution as Cloud Native ones both command a much stronger sense of security due to the cloud enabling support to assist any breaches much faster, along with scaling dynamically based on site traffic. As a result, Cloud Native empowers your eCommerce to be exceptionally nimble – able to navigate demand, disruptions, and any data breach.

Above you’ll find how these pieces come together under one SMOC layer highlighted in yellow. The swappable architecture above yields advances in security and omnichannel, while utilizing microservices bound by API managed in the cloud to deliver an exceptional service. Having a headless environment that is mindful of all of SMOC’s components is the foundation for any successful implementation.

For more information on BORN Group’s headless offerings, please reach out to Mackenzie Johnson, [email protected]

Understanding Headless Solutions as a Tool for Your Business

Understanding Headless Solutions as a Tool for Your Business

In the early 2000s, enterprises were implementing monolithic architectures as their eCommerce solution as it fulfilled their business requirements within a single location. As times have changed and technology developed, brands looked for more flexible solutions that would meet the needs of the consumer along with ever-changing market demands. While a monolithic architecture may work for some, it can oftentimes be challenging to scale these types of solutions as well as make updates. Thus, the microservices or ‘headless’ architecture was born. 

Since its inception, headless has gone beyond a trend to become a route for online retailers looking to create a future-proof platform that can adjust with their business. According to a recent study by Gartner,  56% of enterprise organizations have adopted microservices architecture solutions or have planned or budgeted to deploy API-based or headless commerce architectures in the future. Nonetheless, headless commerce is here to stay. 

What is Headless?

For a headless approach, the front end of your eCommerce shop and the back end are independent from one another or ‘decoupled.’ Thus, the content and experience management system is separated from the business logic and functional layer (existing eCommerce stack, integration and commerce management). This architecture paves the way for ‘Experience Driven Commerce’ applications that are heavily focused on the use of customer data to optimize and personalize the customer experience and rapidly increase conversions without compromising the integrity of your eCommerce build.  

With a headless approach, businesses have the ability to commerce-enable any system, application, or IoT device, and seamlessly integrate with other content management systems. In addition, this type of structure gives businesses the opportunity to remain nimble as they’re able to pick and choose what features and functionality they need to run their business. Additional benefits of this structure include: 

Speed: With a headless architecture you’re able to make rapid changes to the back or front of your build without disrupting the entire system. Design changes, testing and optimization can be done without impacting the stability of your eCommerce solution. In addition, in a headless scenario you’re free of operating constraints, making it easier for front-end developers to work efficiently (this means lower operating costs + accelerated site updates). 

Flexibility & Adaptability: Parts of the system can be delivered without impacting the core commerce functionality since they’re decoupled, making it easier to make developments and updates over time as needed.

Personalization & Customization: With a traditional or side-by-side structure the ability to customize or personalize a UX on the fly is nearly impossible. Integrating a personalization solution allowing marketers to offer relevant promotions and offers to customers across each touchpoint. In addition, a headless solution empowers the marketing team as it enables constant content updates that support marketing campaigns without IT restrictions. 

Omnichannel: In today’s day and age, it’s critical to offer users a complete omnichannel shopping experience, from in-store to online to over the phone. The ability to identify users across many devices and using consistent ID’s for online and offline behavior allows for a seamless experience, and is critical in retaining and attracting customers.

Elements of a Headless eCommerce Environment 

To ensure adaptability and flexibility, it’s critical to have the ability to innovate swiftly. In order to do this, brands must have a ‘swappable’ architecture which is only possible in a headless environment, where your applications are decoupled. Below you can see how headless comes into action, as each piece acts as a swappable lego. 

Is Headless Right for Your Business? 

While a headless solution is a great option for many retailers, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are some additional factors that you should consider: 

  • Retailers looking to get online fast at a low price point may not be the best fit for a headless implementation. You’d have to consider multiple additions including an eCommerce solution, Search and CMS as opposed to a one-stop stack that fulfills all of these needs under a single umbrella. 
  • In addition, a headless implementation can require additional team members and developers to manage and execute, also affecting your total cost of ownership. 
  • Retailers would lack the technical support from a single software vendor. 
  • While headless solutions have been available to the market for some time now, the ecosystem of partners is still maturing. Retailers must be cautious in selecting third-party plug ins as they may not be suited for a headless environment. 

Scaling your Headless Return via ROX (Return of Experience)

Finally, understanding return of experience, or ROX, is key to gauging how successful a headless opportunity could be for a potential brand, and how best to scale the opportunity. ROX is the metric with which we measure the purchase experience of consumers. While Return of Investment (ROI) measures the amount of return on one’s investment, ROX goes beyond to assess multiple facets of a business to determine correlations that have decisive influence on customer experience, and ultimately affects your company’s bottom line. It’s our perspective that most organizations need to invest beyond customer experience (CX). Understanding how changes to customer experience impact your customers (in a positive or negative way), is critical in making informed choices in the development of your digital solution.

With a headless implementation, businesses have the ability to build their ‘perfect’ solution in a lego-like, plug and play format. Choosing what pieces are most valuable to drive your business and what you can live without. Understanding and achieving a high ROX is an important key to understanding what you should invest in, and how to review your potential headless solutions.

For more information on BORN’s headless solutions, please contact Mackenzie Johnson, [email protected]