Growing B2B sales is a top priority for an ever-growing count
of merchants, and their customers want a personalized
experienced. With B2B eCommerce expected to be twice as
large as the B2C market in five years
, there’s a need to
step it up for all in the marketplace. Recognizing that B2B
expectations are shaped by B2C experiences is vital. Yet B2B
eCommerce shopping journeys remain on average today, not on par
with those in the B2C landscape.

B2B and Personalization

Personalization was once deemed the concern of B2C retailers
only. That’s because a B2C purchase is often done with emotion
over logic. Their online purchasing can often be quick,
impulsive one-off buys. B2C customers are certainly perfect for
personalized targeted marketing that speaks directly to their
feelings, personality traits, and what they’re into—especially
when they’re still towards the beginning of their buying
journey. Now, smart merchants know they need to utilize it as a
driver for customer experience—as vital in B2B as it is for B2C
customers.

Whilst vital similarities need first be recognized between the
two customer groups, there are key and specific differences in
the nature of the buying journey in B2B. There are often
multiple individuals involved in the buying process, for
instance, and their buying decisions tend to be more logical.

B2B customers require a buying process that feels secure and
informed. They need plenty of information and brilliant
customer service, all delivered with great efficiency, and they
need to know that they’re in the right place to get their
individual pain points resolved. A B2B customer might take
longer to convert, but the payoff is they could become a
repeated client with large orders over a long period of time.

Today’s Expectations

We have entered the age of the personalized web. Consumers want
to be treated as individuals with specific needs—B2B buyers are
no exception. Being used to personalization perks during their
B2C online shopping experiences, they now expect the same from
their B2B purchasing.

Differentiate yourself from your competitors with an enriched
personalized customer experience. B2B personalization can be
applied to:

  1. Personalized accounts: Customers want to
    know you understand their business and can anticipate their
    needs. Account personalization enables you to customize
    their experiences and deliver targeted messaging.

  2. Recommendations and product listing:
    Tailor your home and product pages to match each user’s
    history on your site. And save their preferences and
    shopping carts too. B2B customers want the convenience of
    retail shopping experiences, so you need to be able to
    generate product recommendations based on your customers’
    tracked shopping habits.

  3. Navigation and search: Make it easy for
    customers to navigate your site and find the products they
    want. Use site search that allows for filtering, sorting by
    business rules, synonyms, and autosuggest. You should also
    adapt search results based on preferences and behaviors and
    drive further sales, for cross-selling or upselling
    opportunities.

  4. Quick repeat ordering: B2B customers
    usually know exactly what they want and will order again.
    Make purchases easier by highlighting their previous orders
    and automating re-orders.

  5. Social media: Don’t make the mistake of
    thinking social isn’t important in the B2B marketplace.
    Successful B2B merchants are bringing together sales and
    marketing departments to develop social-selling tactics to
    build relationships with buyers. Research suggests the bigger spenders tend
    to use social as part of their journey
    .

  6. Customizable pricing: With Magento
    features, customers can receive the right products and
    pricing information with personalized price lists. Dynamic
    prices involve reflecting pre-configured business rules and
    negotiated contract pricing terms. Tailoring your pricing
    can increase profitability and improve satisfaction.

  7. Showing balance / credit on a trade
    account:
    Something we do with success for one of
    our clients whose audience can monitor where they are
    expense-wise on a project easily, knowing what they have
    left to allocate to products on a project, and so being
    able to accurately quote to their clients on costings.

  8. Loyalty programs: Offer rewards to
    personalize the customer experience and reward them to shop
    more you. Not historically seen as so applicable for B2B
    selling, this report by Forrester demonstrates its
    importance for B2B marketers
    .

  9. All devices: Make sure that all your
    personalization features are fully optimized for mobile
    too. Long gone are the days when you should be picturing
    your B2B buyer at their desktop only, a mobile B2B focus is essential today.
    Our client Perch & Parrow is an excellent example and
    they won the Imagine Excellence Award for mobile
    design
    .

  10. Ad networks: Remember the best B2B
    experiences replicate those of B2C, and retargeting has
    become sophisticated and accurate for consumers. The presence of online ads increases brand
    awareness and purchase intent
    . If you do remarketing
    through Google or other ad networks, be specific on
    products or categories whenever you can.

Personalization is no longer an option in the world of B2B
eCommerce. When you provide personalization for customers, you
are designing your customer experience, for the way they think,
work and shop. Buyers will then be able to more easily find the
products they need, and loyalty will increase—because you’ve
shown you understand their business. So, it’s now about
choosing your priorities and planning for an ever-evolving
personalized future.

About Phoebe Haig and JH

Phoebe Haig is the Marketing Manager at JH, an award-winning
Magento eCommerce digital agency in Nottingham, UK. JH focus on
the build and design of bespoke, powerful, Magento Commerce
sites, centered around customer experience—bringing real
measurable results to their clients. JH has been building
eCommerce B2B solutions since 2009, and know that B2B customers
have specific needs, but are also consumers too. We understand
their journey, their pain-points and how to solve them. Our
sites offer solutions and have customers coming back time and
time again. You can find out more about JH at www.wearejh.com,
and take a look at their blog, stacked with eCommerce insight
and news at www.wearejh.com/blog. Find us on Twitter @wearejh.