If you have read or heard anything from B2X Partners, you know how we preach a Product-First approach to eCommerce site design. Product is what customers are visiting your sites for –product should be the focus of your site. But that doesn’t mean including only the basic SKU-level information. You need to think of your website as a multi-layered ecosystem. Your product data, the SKU information, attribution, taxonomy, is the backbone of your site, but to implement a best-in-class eCommerce experience, you need more than SKUs. You need to create an engaging experience around those products to keep your customers informed and attract new customers to your site.
Think Outside the SKU
Product is king. Complete and accurate product data will drive your site experience. It’s essential to make the search and browse experience more relevant and customized based on your product taxonomy and attribution. There are ways to enhance your product content to aid both SEO and customer engagement.
Write for Your Customers
Especially with B2B, the products may not be flashy. The copywriting doesn’t have to be either. But it does have to be meaningful for your potential customers to understand that they are looking at the right product and that you are the right place to purchase that product. Whether you receive your product data from a service or create it internally, you should consider your customers when drafting product copy. Who are your customers and how do they think about these products? What terms will resonate with them? What tone is more palatable, formal or conversational?
Even a minimalistic site design can include engaging and relevant product content. Look at McMaster Carr, for example. Their site design is 100% product-focused, but it’s not limited to obscure part and model numbers. McMaster Carr has carefully crafted unique content for each product and category that speaks the customer’s language. Within a product description, they make their expertise clear by providing specific recommendations for product usage.
Build Trust in Your Brand
You can say you’re the best, or you can show it. Building trust with your customers is essential, even for a long-standing company focusing on B2B customers. Trust-building content can have major impacts to purchasing decisions. Online reviews affect roughly 67.7% of online purchasing decisions. The percentage is up to 90% for customers looking at local companies. While these studies have largely focused on the B2C market, we have to remember that B2C customer habits and expectations have a way of translating into the B2B landscape. After all, every B2B customer is made of individuals who have their own biases and experience with eCommerce in their personal lives.
Soliciting online reviews and customer testimonials can add a personal touch and the social proof that can push undecided customers to conversion. Potential customers want to know they can trust the products they are seeing online are what they need, and that your company can deliver on your promises. Online product reviews can help ensure new online customers that what they see is indeed what they get when it comes to moving from in-person purchasing to ordering online. Testimonials from real customers can boost your company’s credibility. Even in B2B, word-of-mouth recommendations can play a crucial role in new customer adoption and purchases, and we see many top distributors, including Grainger and MSCDirect, are incorporating customer reviews into their websites.
Highlight your Differentiators
When asked what makes your company special, nearly all of the distributors B2X works with has the same answer: great customer service, industry and product expertise, and specialized services.
- Become a destination for learning about new or specialized products
Traditional customers visit your branches and call your sales reps to get details on new products and to ask specific questions about product applications. These customers rely on the expertise of your employees to help them get their jobs done. The online experience should provide the same level of expertise through educational resources, such as internal blogs, how-to videos, and case studies. This rich content can help boost your pages in Google searches, and bring new customers to your site who otherwise may not have found you. These customers may not be immediately looking to purchase a product, but they are looking for support. If you are able to provide the instruction or recommendation they need regarding a product or solution, and give them a class A experience, it’s likely they may return in the future for purchasing.
Educational content can be shared across social media platforms and industry-specific forums to grow your online reach. Look at Grainger’s Facebook feed, for example. It’s not full of product advertisements—it’s packed with links to educational resources showing ways to use their products, and helping customers complete their own projects.
- Show Off Your Services
Products can become commodities, especially in B2B distribution, and you will find yourself with ample competition when it comes to product offerings. Differentiators like superior customer experience, and specialized add-on services will elevate your company above the competition. Make sure that these service offerings are highlighted on your site and promoted in context with the products they support. Keep in mind you may also have more to offer than the traditional brick and mortar services—online tools and resources can also be considered a service. Look at the awesome design resource tool that Arrow Electronics provides to their customers to help them plan their projects (https://www.arrow.com/en/design-center)Your site should provide the information that customers need when and where they need it. Linking to appropriate product resources, tools, and add-on services is key to guiding customers to the right information at the right time. When designing product category and detail pages, think about how to incorporate resource and service information to help customer learn how to use your products.
- A focus on product means more than just a list of product data. Write engaging and unique content that speaks to your customers.
- Build trust with your customers through online reviews and testimonials
- Promote the educational resources and service offerings that make you stand out among your competitors. Your site can be a destination for learning that will lead to conversions and repeat business.