LEAD THE WAY TO eCOMMERCE ADOPTION
You’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The same holds true for your eCommerce website: While you can guide people to your site, you can’t force them to use it. Many B2B organizations, especially wholesale distributors, find eCommerce adoption to be an uphill battle. In addition to resisting pushback from their traditional offline customers, some also struggle with their employees seeing the value of a digital sales channel.
While B2B eCommerce adoption can be a challenge, your efforts will pay off when the right tactics are employed to attract users to your proverbial watering hole. It starts when you realize that your eCommerce site can be much more than just another sales channel. It should become a one-stop shop where buyers can research product options and solutions on their own time, and sales and customer service reps can reference the latest information while assisting customers.
This white paper provides four strategies to help customers and employees realize the benefits of your eCommerce site, and help you see increased ROI on your digital channel investment.
For eCommerce adoption to work, you must first have a website that adds value. It not only has to be fast and responsive, it must also offer robust navigation, intuitive search, and great product content. Without these features, customers have no incentive to buy on your site.
Secondly, your employees need to embrace your new eCommerce site. While some may feel threatened by the new technology, it’s important to instill confidence and help them realize the benefits it provides both your customers and your organization. Salespeople can reference the site during customer visits to pull up products and answer questions on the spot. Customer service reps (CSRs) can be more efficient on phone calls and online chats by sending a URL link pointing customers directly to the information they need. Your website empowers your employees to provide real-time information and responsiveness that customers appreciate. Internal adoption can be just as big of a hurdle as customer adoption, but with proper training and encouragement, your employees can be your biggest eCommerce advocates.
Once you get your employees on board, you can then focus your efforts on transitioning your loyal offline customers into new digital customers. Following are four ways to entice people to use your site; when employed collectively, you’ll have the best chances to convert even your most traditional customers to online buyers.
Internal adoption can be just as big of a hurdle as customer adoption, but with proper training and encouragement, your employees can be your biggest eCommerce advocates.
PRESENT GREAT CONTENT
We mentioned earlier that great content is a must-have for any eCommerce site. But when you’re trying to promote your customers to buy online, the quality of your content is all the more important. Make them feel your site is the go-to place for all their questions – from product information and shipping status, to account details.
Good content comes in many forms but, ultimately, it all has to be correct, consistent, and useful. Product information, including pricing and inventory, constantly changes so the information you display online must always be current. Also, make sure you have unique and helpful descriptions, multiple product images and videos, as well as a complete list of specifications for all your products. Customers are more willing to make a purchasing decision when they have the most information available in one convenient place.
TEST IT OUT WITH LOYAL CUSTOMERS
You may think your site has everything your customers want and need to make a purchase, but who better to make that determination than your customers themselves? Before you roll out the site, ask a few of your best customers to test it out. Have them provide honest feedback and recommendations before you promote your site to the masses. Their input may shed light on possible issues you may have missed, or provide suggestions for improvements. Your “beta testers” don’t have to be tech savvy, but they should be receptive and available to dedicate some time to the effort.
While you know your site is a great resource for your customers and employees, you may want to consider offering incentives to get others on board. Extend special offers to customers such as online-only discounts in the form of price promotions or free shipping. Create a loyalty program for those customers who regularly order online. Their eCommerce purchases save your company time and money, so why not reward them for that? You’d be surprised how a small incentive can open the door to finding new online customers.
Incentives can also prove helpful when it comes to employee adoption. Offer sales reps commissions for their customers’ online orders. If they helped build a relationship with a customer and showed them the benefits of ordering online, they should be compensated for their efforts. CSRs can also be rewarded for using the site to answer customer questions. Their efficiency in handling customer calls will result in faster response times and issue resolution.
Employees and customers alike may be reluctant to use your site because they’re not familiar with navigating websites. Put their fears to rest by providing easy-to-follow training and tutorials. In addition to hands-on training for employees, create and house videos on your intranet or employee portal for easy access any time. For customers, offer online webinars, a repository of user tip videos on your website, and even one-on-one training at your customers’ offices. Knowledge is power so when you make the effort to teach people how to use your site, you’ll give them the confidence to believe in the online buying process.
Your eCommerce site can’t be successful if people aren’t using it. That’s why it’s essential to market and evangelize the benefits of using a digital commerce platform. Start from within by showing employees how your site will not only help them assist customers better, but will also help them do their job more effectively. Once you create an internal fan base, work on converting your customers online.
While B2B customers are historically traditional buyers who are used to ordering directly from a sales rep, times are changing as we see more Millennials – an entirely digital generation – entering the B2B world. Don’t lose hope that you won’t be able to convert your non-Millennial customers into online buyers. Stay the course by providing the proper tools, training, and encouragement to make eCommerce adopters of all your customers.
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.