June 17, 2014, 12:57 PM

Helping B2B customers buy faster

When business customers shop online, they need to quickly find and customize product selections as well as quickly check out, says B2B e-commerce expert Lance Trebesch. He provided several online examples at IRCE last week.

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Many business-to-business e-commerce sites focus too much on marketing and generating sales leads, and as a result make it unnecessarily difficult for customers to find exactly what they want to buy, says Lance Trebesch, CEO of TicketPrinting.com.

Instead, B2B sites should design online purchasing features that provide business customers with informative content and streamlined site search and navigation that help them quickly cut through the clutter and complete a purchase—but that doesn’t mean B2B web  content has to be dull, Trebesch said at last week’s 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. He spoke during IRCE’s B2B track in the session, “Your customers have a task—help them with B2C tactics that improve workflow.’

Trebesch showed several examples of what he called effective B2B e-commerce sites that blended attractive imaging with overall designs developed to speed the process of finding products and completing a purchase. He noted that HomeDepot.com, for example, lets contractors click a top-left tab to the “Pro Store,” where home page images are smaller and more numerous than on the consumer-based site. The format lets contractors more quickly browse among multiple categories like power tools, fasteners and building materials, and then click into category pages and individual product pages to view larger product images along with detailed product descriptions.

In addition, Home Depot’s Pro Store also provides several online purchasing tools, including quick-order forms for repeat purchases; and a job estimator for figuring costs of materials, submitting proposals to customers and ordering the necessary supplies from the online Pro Store. The site also features section that providing details on areas like bulk pricing and commercial credit options. 

For a different kind of B2B online shopping strategy, Trebesch noted that the office supplies site Poppin.com was designed to put some fun as well as speed and helpful advice into the chore of buying office products. With an emphasis on selling supplies that can be color-coordinated across items ranging from notebooks and pens to desks and chairs, the site’s navigation bar lets visitors browse by color theme. The site also provides helpful interactive features like “Design Your Own Desk.”

In contrast, Trebesch showed a dental supplies site that overemphasized marketing messages promoting the company near the top of its home page, while also providing navigation links that were confusing or repetitious. One link, for example, went to “Unplaced Orders” “What is an unplaced order?” Trebesch wondered aloud.  Other links referred to categories like “supplies and essentials” and “technology” without further explaining the type of products featured.

At TicketPrinting.com, Trebesch said his company improved conversion rates by condensing what had been an overly long navigation bar and increasing the size of product images enough to show important details.

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