IS YOUR BUSINESS READY TO EVOLVE?
Offering an online storefront is a good move for anyone who sells products or services, but if a business really wants to get the most mileage out of its eCommerce site, it must work to build a better experience. Great user experiences are created when a company evolves its digital marketing tool set. This digital evolution involves changing strategies, technologies, and mindsets in order to provide new and better ways to engage with customers.
The B2B distribution channel is changing at a lightning-fast pace. The new B2B buyer is younger, tech-savvy, and independent. They want to do their own product research online, shop for products from their mobile devices, and transact using simplified, self-service options.
Wholesalers can no longer compete solely on price and availability; if they want to remain competitive in the marketplace, they need to evolve their offerings to meet buyer demands. This white paper outlines multiple ways an organization can provide a buyer-centric online experience with better system integration, buyer personalization, content, and more.
CREATE A BETTER ONLINE EXPERIENCE: EVOLVE YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING TOOL SET
For B2B buyers, a powerful website provides the ability to learn about products, access account details, and engage easily with the vendor. For employees in an organization, it offers a centralized place to access up-to-date product and customer order information so they can work smarter, not harder.
Unilog believes a robust digital marketing tool set makes the difference between offering an online storefront and providing a valuable resource for people both inside and outside an organization. So what does a business need in its digital toolkit in order to build a better experience? It needs tools that provide more accessibility for users, better system integration, beneficial resources, buyer personalization, and customer service options. There are many different ways a website can offer these key toolkit components. Some come standard with eCommerce platforms while others can be added a la carte based on organizational and customer needs. Unilog has built many tools into its all-in-one software platform, CIMM2, to create a better online experience right out of the box. Let’s delve a little deeper into ways to digitally evolve your site.
A site can’t succeed if people don’t know about it or can’t find it. With a strong marketing strategy, though, businesses can reach target buyers and get noticed. Here are some opportunities to become more accessible:
- Digital marketing – E-mail marketing campaigns are an excellent way to advertise product or service offerings and promote a business. Provide relevant and timely communications that will not only entice and engage potential customers, but will also offer solutions for their specific needs. Create a social media presence by publishing or tweeting company or industry news, sharing product promotions, or providing an online forum for questions and feedback. Be consistent in communications, but be careful not to saturate customer inboxes or social media channels; over-exposure can be a detriment.
- SEO – Search engine optimization (SEO) is another popular way to drive people to a site. Quality content is the number-one driver of search engine rankings; it increases site traffic, which improves a site’s popularity and relevance. SEO is built by developing good product copy, using specific keywords and terms on multiple pages, and inserting those keywords in URL links and file names. Unilog provides a number of product content services that attract customers and drive sales. Its content experts develop new product data, enhance existing data, provide relevant attributes, and source product images, manuals, and other important digital assets to help improve SEO.
- Strong site search and navigation – Once people are attracted to the site, keep them there by providing a user interface that’s both intuitive and easy to use. Strong onsite search tools help buyers find products quickly and easily, whether they’re searching by part number, brand name, or keywords. Navigation tools like site maps, breadcrumbs, and filters also help buyers find the exact products they want. The easier it is for people to navigate to a product, the more inclined they’ll be to make a purchase. CIMM2’s robust search tool is built with Solr, an open-source enterprise search platform that powers some of the largest eCommerce sites around. Responsive and versatile, Solr can handle even the most high-volume traffic searches on a website.
- Access anywhere, any time – Accessibility means making a site available to people whenever and wherever they want. When a digital commerce site is built with a responsive design, buyers experience the same functionality and capabilities across all their devices, whether it’s a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Mobile-friendly sites are a necessity for the modern B2B buyer, which is why CIMM2 is modeled with a responsive design.
“Digital evolution” means changing your thinking, your strategies and your technologies in order to provide new and better ways to engage with your customers and empower your employees.
For digital commerce technology to work properly, it needs to connect and communicate with all business systems. System integration requires cutting-edge technology and capabilities such as:
- APIs – An application programming interface, or API, keeps the lines of communication open between cloud-based software applications and on-premise systems or other online applications so that data can be stored and shared in real-time. CIMM2’s API toolset not only integrates internal and external systems, it creates a simpler and faster way to do business.
- A dedicated PIM – In order to run a robust digital commerce site, true product management must be performed through a product information management (PIM) system. Unlike other software platforms, CIMM2 has a dedicated PIM that works specifically with the CMS and other CIMM2 components to provide a tightly integrated system. The CIMM2 PIM is key to providing a consistent, omnichannel experience for customers.
- Punchouts – Punchouts are popular because they give buyers the opportunity to shop for products on a supplier’s website but transact through their own e-procurement system. Punchout capabilities are available as an add-on module with CIMM2 to help businesses improve efficiencies and contain costs.
A business can turn its site into a reliable resource for buyers and employees by providing useful information about its products, company, its industry, and more. When done right, content can be a powerful tool for eCommerce success because it informs, engages, and empowers people. There are different types of content used on the web, giving businesses a number of ways to create and share valuable and interesting content:
Unique product content – Enriched content is an important component of It powers user searches, directs customers to products, and provides employees with a valuable resource that’s available on demand. Invest in developing content that goes beyond product descriptions and specifications. Provide digital assets like multiple product images and links to manuals and spec sheets. Also consider creating videos, which are popular with Millennial buyers, because they offer a more engaging way to learn about a product, and can be watched conveniently on a smartphone. Search engines like Google look for website pages that feature these types of SEO-optimized content, so when they find it, they tend to rank those pages and the website higher in a person’s search.
If your company isn’t sure how to effectively optimize its product content, Unilog can help. In addition to creating unique, SEO-optimized product descriptions that attract search engines and potential customers, Unilog also finds and fills in gaps in manufacturer-provided content to offer complete, consistent product information.
- White papers, blogs, and social posts – An organization can become a subject matter expert by developing a company blog and white papers on subjects that interest its customers. Consider highlighting a new product line, communicating the latest industry trends, and sharing research from reputable business organizations. All the content should be housed on the company’s website and links to the content shared on social media. Regular posts will keep audiences interested and in the know.
The easier it is for people to navigate to a product, the more inclined they’ll be to make a purchase.
B2B buyers are always looking for ways to make their jobs easier. When a company provides them with a tailored online shopping experience that includes relevant content, recommendations, and solutions, they’ll show their appreciation in product purchases. Consider these ways to personalize their experience:
- Customer-specific pricing – Customer portals create a personalized experience for buyers by showing them their specific catalog of products, along with their contracted pricing. It’s a faster, more efficient way for buyers to re-order the products they need.
- Customized product offerings – A powerful eCommerce platform, paired with strong analytics and reporting tools, can create comprehensive product offerings for buyers and more sales opportunities for businesses. The CIMM2 package provides this deep personalization capability for advertising specific promotions, as well as clearance and sales items, based on customer searches, orders, and behavior analytics. In addition, up-selling and cross-selling strategies can be implemented easily with CIMM2. Recommending alternative products, or presenting additional products and components buyers can use, is an excellent way to show them your company has taken the time to know them, their business, and their needs.
Customer service is the cornerstone of the user experience. Buyers want the ability to ask questions, check order statuses, and purchase products at any time of day. A digital commerce site can serve those needs by incorporating these offerings:
- Customer portal – As mentioned earlier, a customer portal is a one-stop shop because it houses all the important information buyers need, right at their fingertips. In addition to showing their specific product pricing and catalogs, portals also provide customers with up-to-date account information like purchasing history, inventory availability, and order status. A customer portal is built into the CIMM2 platform, so right out of the gate companies have the ability to offer customers a better user experience.
- Online chat – Online chat helps increase conversions on a site because it allows an organization to help its customers at any time of day. From answering questions and troubleshooting issues to making relevant product suggestions, online chat is another extension of the omnichannel experience, and it’s available with CIMM2.
- Easy payment options – B2B buyers want flexible payment terms and specific pricing based on their purchase volume and history. That’s why it’s important to provide alternative payment options and terms that work for individual customers. In addition to providing punchout capabilities for buyers, Unilog also has partnered with Apruve – a payment and communication platform specifically for B2Bs – so that businesses can easily manage authorized buyers, credit applications, purchase orders, payments, and more in one place online.
With so many tools available to stock a B2B company’s digital marketing toolkit, it may seem difficult to know where to start. Eliminate the complexity and headache by talking with Unilog first. Unilog’s eCommerce platform, CIMM2, offers many of the personalized functionality and advanced capabilities needed to create a superior e-store experience for your customers and a valuable asset for your employees. Contact a team member today to find out how your e-business can digitally evolve with Unilog’s CIMM2 solution and product content services.
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.