As your business begins building next year’s budget, is it setting aside any money for website improvements? If not, it should. Just because your online storefront is up and running with product data and transaction capabilities doesn’t mean it’s self-sustained. A successful site requires regular management and updates to maintain its relevance and effectiveness for buyers.
By 2020, more than half of B2B buyers are expected to research their work purchases online, so an optimized eCommerce site is integral to keep up with their digital needs. In this white paper, we will review the three most important aspects of a website, and identify the features and technology that need continual improvement and enhancement.
Investing annually in your website is not only essential, it’s the cost of doing business. As technology and customer needs evolve, distributors must keep on top of trends in order to stay competitive. If you want your site to meet the needs of your buyers, set aside an annual budget in three key areas that optimize your site: usability, consistency, and content.
Distributors must employ an omnichannel strategy, meaning everything from a site’s appearance and functionality, to the information buyers see, is consistent across devices and selling channels.
THE USABILITY FACTOR
Technology advancements in eCommerce software and tools continue to make it easier for buyers to shop online. According to a 2017 survey by Forrester and Internet Retailer, 64% of B2B buyers currently research half or more of their work purchases online. They also found that 38% of buyers currently transact online and, by 2020, that number is expected to grow to 55%. The only way buyers will continue to shop and transact on a site is if it’s fast, intuitive, and user-friendly, so put money into your site to ensure it always offers the following:
- Fast-loading pages: When a site visitor clicks on a page or performs a search, the page-load speed should be less than two seconds.
- Easy navigation and search: A search bar at the top of web pages is one way for people to find information on your site, but it shouldn’t be the only way. Utilize a B2B commerce platform that offers alternate search methods for products, documentation, company information, and more. Include functionality like dropdown menus, navigation with filters and breadcrumbs, as well as advanced search tools that can configure different types of product searches, associate related terms and products, match search words within the entire site’s content, and rank results by relevancy.
- A clean, modern interface: Have eCommerce professionals design and refresh your website interface on a regular basis to ensure the site has the right balance of information, graphics, and pages to attract and engage buyers. A site with too many buttons, click-through pages, images, and text can be overwhelming for users and lead to higher bounce rates.
A seamless user experience is paramount for buyers, which is why distributors must employ an omnichannel strategy, meaning everything from a site’s appearance and functionality, to the information buyers see, is consistent across devices and selling channels. With people using computers, laptops, tablets, and phones as business tools, how do you maintain a reliable experience across devices? By investing in these must-have eCommerce tools:
- A cloud-based platform: Cloud-based eCommerce platforms are the best at supporting an omnichannel business because they are scalable, flexible, and able to support multiple users. These cloud systems are more agile than on-premise platforms because they can improve internal processes and manage changes quickly and efficiently.
- A dedicated PIM: A product information management system, or PIM, is the central repository for all your data. A PIM has the ability to source, standardize, and export the data to ensure every channel is using the most up-to-date and highest quality data. Make sure the PIM you choose integrates well with your organization’s ERP and other backend systems so it can communicate and manage data effectively.
- Responsive design: A responsive design adapts your website’s layout so that all of the content, images, and functionality remain the same on any device a buyer uses. But don’t confuse a responsive-designed site with a mobile-friendly site. A responsive site utilizes one design that handles both types of users while the alternative is two site designs – one for desktops and another for mobile. Responsive is the most efficient and recommended route to go; even Google considers it an industry best practice and, consequently, tailors its search results by choosing mobile sites for queries made on a mobile device.
(ENRICHED) CONTENT IS STILL KING
What helps drive people to your website? Good content. And what constitutes good content? Rich, unique product information that is more searchable and desirable for online buyers. Google, Bing, and other search engines are constantly looking for web pages with high-quality, relevant content related to a user’s search. The more web pages they can connect to that search, the higher they will rank a website in the search results which, in turn, will help lead more buyers to that site and its products. In order to maintain high rankings and relevance online, continually improve and update your content with the following:
- Detailed product information: Improve upon basic manufacturer product information by developing more comprehensive product content in the form of descriptions, feature and benefit bullets, as well as technical specifications. Partner with a content services company that will research and create better product information that is more engaging and valuable to buyers.
- Images, videos, and helpful documents: Another way to optimize product information is to include product images, videos, and other visuals that highlight a product’s features and show it in use. Add documentation like data sheets and manuals to your arsenal to provide all the information a buyer needs to make an informed purchasing decision. Together, enriched product copy, visuals, and documentation can tell a great story about your products.
- SEO implementation: Search engine optimization (SEO) is a widely used method of increasing a website’s placement in search results by using specific keywords and terms on web pages, within links, and in file names in order to reach an intended audience. When it comes to knowing which keywords to use to optimize your eCommerce site and the products on it, rely on Google Analytics or other reporting tools to find out which terms are most relevant with site visitors by regularly measuring their search volume and competitive ranking.
Don’t underestimate the effects that usability, consistency, and content have on your website. For optimal results, these three elements must be constantly evaluated and tweaked, which takes commitment and resources. Be proactive by dedicating a budget to your efforts and partnering with Unilog, the eCommerce experts who turn websites into optimized profit generators.
Unilog is a global technology company that delivers powerful, affordable eCommerce solutions for the B2B marketplace. Our cloud-based eCommerce platform and product data enrichment services help distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers increase online sales, reduce cost to serve, and enhance their digital channel. Unilog is an ISO 9001:2008- and ISO 8000-certified company with North American headquarters outside of Philadelphia, PA and international headquarters in Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.unilogcorp.com.