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      B2B Insights

      Breaking Down the Buyer’s Journey on Your Distribution Website in 4 Easy Steps

      By Jason Hein

      Mar 31, 2022

      8 min read

      B2B Insights

      Breaking Down the Buyer’s Journey on Your Distribution Website in 4 Easy Steps

      Welcome to part two of our “The Next Big Thing in B2B” series, where we discuss the generational, environmental, and social shifts driving the acceptance and adoption of e-commerce in B2B. Follow along for best practices and insights to accommodate the steadily increasing popularity of digitization in the B2B space, as revealed from our recent survey report with BECK Ecommerce.

      When looking at the results of our survey report — “Are B2C Practices the Future of B2B E-Commerce?” — a lot of questions came to mind, with the most important being: how should distributors apply this data moving forward? As many B2B distributors are realizing, it is no longer enough to just have an online presence. In fact, an online storefront is the bare minimum — it’s literally the least you can do. True innovation in the form of good experiences is key to winning brand trust and loyalty. 

      According to a Distribution Strategy Group survey, 88% of distributors’ customers reported buying from at least one B2B third-party marketplace, while 33% bought from five or more. Given these numbers, it’s clear that your customers are increasingly favoring online transactions. Although third-party marketplaces are especially tough competitors for distribution companies because they’ll often outmatch your selection, inventory, and pricing, they aren’t completely infallible, and it’s time distributors stop playing into this idea.

      After all, many third-party marketplaces prioritize a massive selection and order entry — but at the expense of customer experiences (often referred to as “CX”). With offerings so vast, they often underestimate the importance of helping the buyer find exactly what they need. Since marketplaces often have too many cooks in the kitchen, organizing and maintaining vital information concerning a products’ features and benefits is difficult, and it results in poor CX. 

      Rather than longing for the traditional ways of transacting business, distribution companies can take advantage of third-party marketplaces’ shortcomings. Since your company owns all the data needed to power product discovery, and your team knows exactly how to match products to problems, you have everything you need to curate personalized experiences that differentiate your distribution business from the run-of-the-mill marketplace.

      However, it might be difficult to get started without a little help from technology. Since the B2B market faces a unique challenge with product discovery due to its complicated offerings, diverse customers, and varied applications and use cases, it’s up to your business to take full ownership of your product data — ensuring that it’s clear, complete, correct, and consistent across all channels — and educational content to inform the buyer and propel them along their journey. 

      Regardless, marketplaces still add fuel to the competitive fire, and many distributors are starting to see that a digital strategy is no longer a nice-to-have approach — it’s a necessity for your business’ prosperity and even its survival. Historically, the problem for the B2B market is seeing the value in these technologies and committing to them.

      Our data shows that 20% of respondents believe the cost of tech implementation discourages them from adopting new functionalities, while 18% pinpoint cultural resistance to change, and 14% blame a lack of technical expertise. But you shouldn’t let these preconceived pitfalls hold your business back from achieving your full potential — and trust me, they will if you don’t move forward and include digital in your business model. 

      Ultimately, it’s up to your company to decide whether you’re going to do something well or do something different. Doing something “well” speaks to the bare minimum we discussed earlier, and it makes you vulnerable to disruption by others who dare to do something “different.” By doing something different and digitally replicating those stellar in-person customer experiences on your distribution website, you’ll connect your online and offline efforts in an omnichannel strategy. 

      Going beyond your product offerings and showing your value can be done in several ways, including demonstrating knowledge of your products or providing top-notch customer service. In offering extra incentives to your buyers, they will feel increased confidence in your brand when shopping on your e-commerce site.

      Let’s start with the customer journey. Orchestrate these four actionable steps on your website, and the rest should unfold organically: 

      By investing in digital and implementing the following suggestions, you’re establishing a cohesive online experience for your buyers. As we continue our “The Next Big Thing in B2B” series, we plan to reflect on each of these steps in detail. Stay tuned, and don’t forget to catch up on the first blog of our series if you missed it. 

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      Jason Hein

      Principal Product Marketer in Marketing

      Jason Hein is an experienced digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working in the industrial distribution and digital commerce industries. With a robust background in merchandising and digital sales of products relevant to B2B, Jason specializes at Bloomreach in quick-ramping on product knowledge to build digital merchandising strategies for technical products. With experience in most product lines carried by MRO and Industrial companies, he uses strong digital content and information architecture to empower teams to succeed and thrive online.

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