The Future of eCommerce: 5 Considerations When Upgrading Your Digital Channel

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“Digital is the main reason 52% of the companies in the Fortune 500 have disappeared since 2000.” – Pierre Nanterme – CEO Accenture

If you’re in doubt about the importance of upgrading your digital channel, consider that in 1955 the average life expectancy of Fortune 500 companies was 75 years, while in 2015 it’s only 15 years. The speed of technology innovation is changing the fundamentals of how companies operate to not only survive, but to thrive. Now is the time modernize your digital platform and these 5 considerations can help you get there.

1. Technology

Today’s customers have increased expectations of their interactions with eCommerce sites. Things like predictive search and personalization are no longer nice to have options—they’re must-have requirements. A whopping 90% of consumers say that being easy-to-use is an absolutely essential search trait.

Although many B2B companies are coming to the realization that their legacy technology is holding them back, they’re still choosing to build their own technology, believing it’s the best way to cut costs and increase revenue. However, in-house limitations become apparent when IT resources that are already stretched very thin reveal they don’t have the in-depth level of eCommerce expertise required. Companies get stuck when they try to build their own technology that can’t provide the analytics needed to drive continuous change. In other words, they end up with a lot of data but don’t know what to do with it.

2. Product Data

To understand why product data should be one of your top considerations when upgrading your digital channel, you first need to understand how buyers search and browse your site. There’s been a major shift in online B2B buyer behaviors that are largely influenced by B2C shopping. As a result, they expect clean, relevant data and rich content that’s reminiscent of a B2C experience.

However, due to its complexity, B2B presents some unique hurdles. The most common obstacle is much higher SKU counts. You can have millions of products coming from thousands of suppliers sourced from paper catalogs that don’t follow a set of quality or governance principles. For example, one supplier could be delivering your product with over 100 very technical attributes, and another supplier could deliver that same product with only 10 attributes. An even bigger problem is when a supplier uses the same attributes, but with different names. You can find yourself with thousands of product features that mean the same thing but are described differently.

3. Onsite Navigation

Providing relevant and frictionless navigation experience is crucial for a number of reasons. One of the most important is to avoid the major problem of hidden inventory. Nothing is worse than when you have the exact product that your buyer wants, but they can't find it because your navigations are incomplete or inaccurate. Chances are they’ll leave your site and go elsewhere.

Another opportunity to strategize for is how complex products and catalogs require detailed and accurate navigations so it’s easy for your buyer to narrow down and find exactly what they’re looking for. The importance of intelligent navigation with normalized values that keep your buyer in mind cannot be overstated. Relevancy issues compound the opportunity you have to benefit from accurate data in filters by ensuring their relation to the buyer’s query. Think of the language that will resonate with your buyers. For example, US customers use imperial measurement, but they won’t be valuable or relevant to European buyers who use the metric system, and vice versa.

4. Relevant Search

Most B2B buyers know exactly what they want, but B2B sites often don’t deliver. The complexity of the products makes it challenging to maintain relevant search results. If not handled correctly, things like partial part numbers, misspellings, and long-tail key terms will bring null searches into the user experience. Without a cohesive system, you can end up with IT teams trying to fix data with intensive updates that negatively impact the speed and scale of site optimizations.

5. Built for B2B

There are a number of challenges that are unique to the B2B space and if you look at the marketplace, there are very few solutions that are capable of meeting these distinctive needs. When you're looking for B2B solutions it’s important that your custom catalogs and pricing be natively supported to deliver that information to users.

People are very set in their ways. In order to get a dedicated customer base to change how they do business, you need to be able to offer them a more efficient user experience. Competition amongst your peers is getting stronger as people are realizing the necessity of upgrading to the next wave of digital transformation. Companies that create a fundamentally better user experience that's easily adopted by their older customers are the ones that are going to win the “B2B eCommerce Arms Race.”

If you want to know more, watch the recording of our webinar.