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At your service: Four ways to improve your online B2B store

With Australian businesses buying more online, it pays to ensure your e-commerce site is up to scratch, writes Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

Clocking up fewer in-person sales and sealing more deals online than you did a couple of years ago? You and just about every Australian business that focuses on selling its products and services to other commercial enterprises. While the consumer e-commerce boom created by the COVID pandemic has been extensively documented, rather less has been written about the uptick in online B2B commerce the virus has ushered in.

But, although it may have flown under the radar, it’s a dramatic shift and all signs suggest it’s likely to be a permanent one. 

Researching, evaluating and ordering online 

Over two-thirds of business buyers are spending more time online than they did pre-pandemic and they’re spending more money too — 45 per cent more on average, according to a seven-country survey carried out by Sana Commerce in late 2021. 

In today’s times, 87 per cent of buyers are using the web to identify new suppliers, up from 78 per cent BC (Before Covid). 74 per cent will evaluate the suitability of suppliers based on their web stores, up from 60 per cent in 2019. And 79 per cent and 72 per cent of customers respectively will order and re-order online.

But are they enjoying the same standard of service they’re accustomed to receiving off-line when they do so? Many business buyers don’t think so. Almost half of those surveyed said the e-commerce sites they’d dealt with had failed to meet their expectations. 

Not sure whether your business is trucking or trailing on the B2B online customer experience front? Here are some of the most frequently cited issues and how you can fix them.

Delivery and tracking

They’ve ordered the goods and they’ll be happy for them to turn up sometime in the next week, month, or year… That may have been how things worked in the past, but those days are long gone. 

Today’s B2B customers expect the same granular information about the status of their online orders as their B2C counterparts is accustomed to receiving. Offer lightning-fast delivery and automated tracking service that lets them see exactly where their delivery is at and you’ll stand a better chance of capturing their business. 

Visibility of product features

Displaying and demonstrating your wares to business buyers is easy when they’re in your showroom, or face to face with a sales rep who can explain the features and benefits, in as much detail as they require. Online buying is a much more DIY affair. An absence of information about product specifications and features can make it difficult for customers to determine whether your offering will meet their needs.  

Final net price, product availability and comprehensive shipping information related to each product should all be included to help seal the sale.   That’s why browsers are far more likely to become buyers if you ensure your site contains every detail they might conceivably need to know before committing. 

Check-out and payment problems

Superlative customer experiences from online behemoths such as Amazon have conditioned consumers to expect swift and seamless service when they reach the online check-out. That’s an expectation they bring with them when they’re buying online, for business purposes. 

Clunky check-out processes and payment processing problems are real turn-offs and it pays to put any effort into making it as easy as possible for businesses to spend their money with you.

Repeat ordering issues

In business, there’s only one thing more valuable than a customer and that’s a repeat customer. Once they’re satisfied your product or service meets their needs, your business buyers will likely want to keep ordering it or trying other offerings from your range. 

Placing a repeat order isn’t a straightforward matter on some e-commerce sites and that’s a genuine irritant for customers who just want to be able to get the same again and get on. Automate the process for them and they’ll thank you with their business, again and again.

Harnessing the power of technology to propel your B2B e-commerce site forward

Providing a first-class customer experience online is challenging, without the right tools. An ERP-integrated e-commerce solution can help you to empower your business customers and provide them with reliable, high-quality experiences, each and every time they interact with you digitally. At a time when more Australian businesses are taking their procurement online, it’s an investment in customer satisfaction that will help your business capture and keep a bigger slice of the spend.

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Marcus McNamara

Marcus McNamara

Marcus McNamara was appointed Head of APAC for Sana Commerce in 2021. He has extensive expertise in helping SaaS companies to achieve growth objectives and scale internationally and combines an in-depth understanding of both enterprise and SME SaaS needs, with a strong cultural understanding from doing business in the region. He previously worked at Curo, where he was APAC Head of Sales and successfully grew the region, which contributed to its eventual acquisition by US-based Payscale.com. Prior to Curo, he was Senior Sales Manager for the SaaS platform, Containerchain.

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