Online revenue growth continues to outpace store sales to the point that buying online has become more popular than visiting brick-and-mortar retailers. With this growth, we have also seen increased expectations on the part of consumers who are demanding more from the online retailers from which they make their purchases. Today’s consumer wants more than just a way to buy online. The modern customer demands personalized attention, and it’s up to you to give eCommerce shoppers the high-touch shopping experience they want.
The hard part is reconciling what people are looking for now with what they’ll want in a few years. As much as eCommerce has changed, it’s guaranteed to change even more in the years to come. You must invest in the eCommerce platform features that will allow you to stay competitive now while maintaining a vigilant eye on the future to keep ahead of the curve.
Develop a People-First Mindset
A technologically advanced website may sound great on the surface, but unless the features directly support the shopping experience your audience actually wants from your website, you are falling behind.
While many eCommerce businesses strive to reproduce the Amazon model—and, to be sure, Amazon is certainly a trailblazer and trendsetter—your customers are looking for something very specific from you.
You don’t need to go hog wild, adopting every new feature that comes down the pipe. Every addition you make to your site should be done with the sole objective of improving the customer’s shopping experience. If a new feature doesn’t simplify or augment the customer experience, odds are good that it’s not a necessary addition to your site and the only way to know is to test and test again. As long as your site excels at catering to the needs of your specific customers, you’re in good shape and the data will support it.
Support Complex Pricing Workflows
The B2B world isn’t as cut-and-dry as the B2C marketplace. Businesses must always find ways to accommodate their partners and that functionality must be present online. Just as retail consumers want personalized recommendations and a great customer experience, B2B customers also want tools that will make their lives easier and enhance their shopping experiences.
Advanced pricing and shipping options allow you to support all of the various ways in which another company might want to do business with your organization. This includes area-based pricing, bulk discounts, shipping considerations for region and varying frequencies for billing. Having these options on your website will help streamline your operations, allowing other businesses to place orders without requiring manual intervention each time. It’s a development that improves the experiences of both the buyer and the seller, and it’s a must in the modern B2B climate.
Be the Omnichannel Experience
Your website might be the endpoint of many sales conversions, but not every sale begins on your website. A consumer may have seen your products in a store, conducted a Google search, seen product information on a blog, seen a video on social media or received a recommendation from a friend. There are many different paths that lead to a purchase on your website, and assuming that each of these paths is identical would be shortsighted at best.
One of the most important eCommerce platform features for B2B sellers is the ability to incorporate an omnichannel view of each customer. This type of approach aggregates all consumer touchpoints and considers each as various steps along the path to purchase. It acknowledges that the sum of your companies marketing efforts are more than any one campaign or channel and that providing cohesive branding, messaging and experiences across the entire company helps eliminate the frustrating experiences that occur when the call center does not have access to the same information as customers shopping on the website or in your stores. There are many factors to consider to provide excellent omnichannel experiences, but if you take the time to take all of the factors into account, you’ll create a better profile of your customers which will help you create a unified shopping experience across all your channels that customers will certainly appreciate.
Say No to Silos
The traditional, highly compartmentalized sales and marketing world is quickly crumbling. Most modern businesses now realize that they can accomplish much more by pooling their resources and taking a more centralized view of their audience. This is smart on many levels: It saves money, and it opens the team up to new and exciting ways to create multi-platform campaigns. Most importantly, though, it provides the ultimate solution to optimizing the customer experience.
Once again, remember that the customer experience doesn’t exist solely online. In fact, the customer experience incorporates a variety of touchpoints, and it’s shaped largely by the events that take place on other avenues such as email and social media. Fragmented sales and marketing departments assume each customer only interacts with a brand in one specific way—something that’s clearly not the case in 2017. However, a fully integrated sales and marketing team is able to view each interaction as small parts of a bigger picture. One that ultimately translates into a customer experience that delights consumers each time.
Choose the Right eCommerce Partner
Envisioning a stellar customer experience is one thing. Bringing that vision into reality is far more complicated. You need to work with a partner that not only embraces your ideas and goals in the short term, but also has the ability to change with the times. After all, the eCommerce world will almost certainly look different five years from now. It’s in your best interest to pick a partner that embraces change. Your best bet is to work with a company that has a Platform as a Service (PaaS ) offering. This means you’ll lease software from a partner that knows exactly what works and how your company can benefit from their platform. Your website isn’t the only part of your online operation, but it should be in a position to handle what the future has in store. Keeping an omnichannel view of your company and putting the needs of the customer ahead of everything else will help you to develop new ideas for new customer experiences. Additionally, choosing a partner that has current, world class eCommerce platform features and embraces change will keep your site at the cutting edge now and for the foreseeable future.