Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mastering eCommerce Optimization: Converting Customers

Platforms / Strategy

Check out Dale’s previous post in this series: B2B eCommerce Leaders: It’s time to Optimize your B2B Customer’s Path to Purchase and Mastering eCommerce Optimization: Engaging Customers which were inspired by Episerver’s eBook:

A Guide to Mastering Ecommerce Optimization -

This post focuses on closing the deal and maximizing its value. At the end of the day, there are many well designed online stores we all shop in. How many of them actually get the order? Why does a business buyer make the decision to purchase a similar product from one site to another? Are there other items they would have purchased had they thought about them?

The answers vary, but a business buyer’s motivation is frequently different than a consumer’s. In some cases, it’s really is about the product itself. But for B2B buyers, many time it has to do with pricing, availability, ease of placing the order, the ability to ship an order to multiple locations, receiving the right offer at the right time, and other factors.

Basics

Let’s start with basic blocking and tackling – make sure your site is performing and offers fast page loads, no 404s, etc. Be sure it’s mobile friendly throughout the purchase path including the cart and buyer approval screens and dashboards. Make sure you have a mini-cart that is readily available. The full cart should include images of the product, pricing, and in some cases, you may want to indicate availability.

Make sure your product category and detail pages include the content a business buyer is looking for. This includes their price, availability, images (yes, this is important to business buyer too), descriptions, specifications, etc. Be sure to include relevant part numbers, UPC codes and even the customer’s own part numbers if possible for easy reference. If you are using filtered search, be sure there is a product at the end of the path that is actually in stock.

Leverage Personalization Throughout the Process

B2B buyers want to be able to easily login to see their own product catalog and pricing. Providing buyers with an easy to use dashboard that includes previous order history, saved shopping lists, saved carts, and other rapid ways to place an order are important. By providing a dashboard and personalized experience, B2B buyers will want to login as they start shopping.

Why is this important? Because the seller now has the context of the buyer. If the buyer knows they are buying for a particular location or entity, the content, merchandising, and promotional offers can be personalized by the seller. This will lead to a higher conversion rate. With proper merchandising, the average order value can be increased.

For example, show the buyer related accessories. Offer them a bundle that includes supplies or replenishment items. Ask them if they would like to create a subscription or receive reminders for future purchases.

There are many other opportunities to merchandise at this point. Abandoned shopping carts can be referenced – or items that were left in the cart can be represented with some type of offer as a cross sell/upsell in the cart, on the home page, dashboard, or at other points in the purchase path.

Help the Buyer Choose

Beyond the basics of presenting relevant content and offers, be sure you have tools that will help guide the purchasing process. Filtered search and navigation are table stakes for basic products. In many cases, a business buyer is asked to purchase some type of equipment that they may not be familiar with. By providing an easier path to purchase, the chances of converting that sale will increase dramatically. For more complex products or product families, Episerver’s eBook shows how guided selling and configurators for complex products can assist the buyer in choosing the correct product and accessories to meet their needs.

Use Your Analytics Data

B2B sellers are increasingly focusing on data and analytics to determine which products to present to which buyers. In many cases, customers are familiar with only a portion of a seller’s overall product catalog. Based on a customer’s profile, present merchandising offers that similar customers are buying from you. Show products that other buyers from the same company are purchasing – even tagging them with the other buyer and location. Likewise, show related products, supplies and accessories that are frequently bought together. Leverage the fact that you may have deep knowledge about the buyer and their company.

Ecommerce platform’s like Episerver are able to easily integrate with back end systems to present dynamic, data driven merchandising. Increasingly, the platforms themselves are adding machine learning and AI to make that even easier. Third party plugins like Monetate and Certona also offer those capabilities.

Test and Learn

As B2B sellers are finally learning, A/B testing and optimization are important to their success. Test and learn everywhere in your site including the cart and checkout. Use your analytics aggressive to figure out where you lose buyers in the purchase path and use A/B testing to improve your results.

Think you have it all figured out? Test again, there is always room for improvement.

Remarketing

Yes, remarketing works for B2B buyers too. Keeping your brand in front of B2B buyers may annoy some, but the efficacy is proven. Gentle email reminders about abandoned carts are a no brainer. Let your sales reps know about abandoned carts too. It’s a great excuse to make contact with a customer. Retargeting ads work too. It may take some time to figure out the right channels – Facebook may not work for business buyers as well as industry related blogs and newsletters. As with A/B testing, test and learn by trying different channels.

Promotions

Promotions work with business buyers too. Make sure your promotions are relevant to the buyer and their company. The days of a weekly, one size fits all promotion are gone. Tailor your promotions for different markets, companies and personas. Instead of “giving up margin”, look for ways to leverage bundles to actually increase the overall size of the order. It’s a great way to provide the customer with a “deal”, while actually capturing a larger share of wallet than you would have otherwise.

Summary

Use all the knowledge you have about your customer and other customer’s like them to drive the content and user experience. It all starts with knowing your customer and making sure that the entire purchase path has as much tender loving care as you invest on the home page and product detail pages. Don’t ignore any page that is presented in the purchase path. All it takes is one confusing page in a checkout process to lead to an abandoned cart.