“‘Never judge a book by its cover’ may be a strong life philosophy, but it’s certainly a far cry from online user behaviour. ‘First impressions count’ is likely a much more appropriate way to describe how a first-time visitor to your website will regard his or her experience,” says David Bray, sales Director at Netsuite ANZ.
“They will unconsciously make an evaluation of your brand within 0.05 seconds of viewing your website,” says Bray.
“Visitors, will at first glance, judge the credibility of your site based on its design and functionality, before they’ve even read any content, compared prices or noticed any competitive services like free shipping.
“In today’s world, 85 percent of B2B customers search the web before making a purchase decision and 75 percent of users judge the company’s credibility based on their website’s design. Well-designed websites are proving to be the best hooks to attract prospective customers.
“With so much riding on providing great experiences, why is website design often overlooked and undervalued in B2B environments, Bray asks.
Here are Bray’s top tips to keep in mind when designing your B2B eCommerce experience to make a great first and lasting impression.
Give them what they want
Your B2B customers will need to process a lot of information, given the nature of complex B2B business cases. One way to minimise the unwanted load is using progressive disclosure design. These design patterns will help show buyers what they need to see and when they need to see it, in a clear and concise way. Showing the key elements at first sight not only makes your content easy to scan, but also gives users the possibility to discover more information while interacting with the site.
Self Service – Empower Your B2B Buyers
B2B customers today expect to do more business online at their own convenience. An empowered customer can perform dozens of self-service actions, making them feel that their time is valued, while also being available to support them if they need a more personalised service.
By giving your customers more control, like reading only relevant content and providing the ability for buyers to check their account balance and pay invoices online, you empower them more than ever, resulting in customer delight.
Speak to Choosers and Users
Unlike B2C customers, B2B buyers are not impulsive. Often, more than one person is involved in the purchase decision and this often needs to be validated and justified at various stages. Many B2B sites go wrong by tailoring their content to only decision makers or users, while alienating the other stakeholders.
For example, when selling highly complex or expensive products, it’s recommended to provide an ‘advocacy kit’ with ways to justify the buying decision to the management team and/or other third parties. These kits usually include brochures, templates and FAQs that a decision maker might ask for (price, ROI, reliability, success cases and product comparisons)
Pricing Levels and Selection
Most B2C products have straightforward prices that remain unchanged from one customer to the next. However, B2B pricing can be very challenging to display because products may need to be heavily customised, offering quantity discounts or customer-specific discounts.
If you offer quantity discounts, displaying the discount structure on your site is recommended. For more complex offerings, providing a worksheet where the product pricing is calculated based on selected items, simplifies the ordering process. Such worksheets or pricing tables are both important and challenging from a design and usability standpoint. A good pricing table should be simple but at the same time clearly differentiate between features and prices of different products and services to help users pick the most appropriate plan.
Provide real-time, reliable and updated information
B2B websites need to support complex content and offer enhanced functionality, which is challenging for any web designer. But it’s not just functionality that will optimise and streamline the buying experience – it’s also important to have updated and consistent data.
Outdated, static information on an ecommerce site will only lead to frustration and distrust toward your online channel and ultimately your brand. A unified commerce platform provides a single source of inventory, order and customer data which can be used to enable better customer experiences.
The truth is that web stores are your company’s digital doorstep and snap judgments are a fact of life. User-friendly, customised B2B websites can provide significant benefits to visitors in the digital world. It’s important that when you select a B2B ecommerce platform, you consider how the platform follows best practices, how it sets you up for success and anticipates your customers’ needs proactively. Think about the impact you wish to have and the type of ongoing relationship you want to build with your customers. Once you have asked yourself these questions, you are ready to choose the platform that best suits your needs and that of your customers.