June 17, 2014, 12:38 PM

Customer reviews pump up B2B online conversion rates for 3M

Using ratings and reviews on its main dental products site helps 3M generate conversion rates five times bigger than product pages without customer comments, 3M marketing executive Keith Haig told attendees last week at IRCE 2014 in Chicago.

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Customer reviews aren’t just important for online retailers. In fact customer ratings and reviews can play a promising role for companies looking to launch a successful business-to-business e-commerce site or improve an existing one. That’s a key insight Keith Haig, global digital marketing leader for 3M Co., told attendees last week at Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

Speaking during the IRCE session “The B2B opportunity: Have you thought this through?” Haig told attendees that 3M, which operates as many as 14 different B2B e-commerce sites for its various divisions, has been using customer ratings and reviews from Bazaarvoice Inc. since 2012. Haig said that on business e-commerce sites such as 3MESPE.com, which sells some 2,000 products to dental offices, product pages that have ratings and reviews generate conversion rates that are five times bigger than pages without customer comment. “Reviews build trust with customers,” Haig told attendees.

Haig did not disclose the number of reviews left by customers or 3M’s online sales to business customers.

Moving away from paper catalogs and manual order processing and migrating toward business e-commerce can deliver a big return on investment, Haig and Sean Cook, CEO of e-commerce systems provider ShopVisible, told attendees. “There is an opportunity to serve smaller accounts, increase automation and give your customers assistance with complex transactions,” Cook said. “Giving business customers more self-service options result in higher customer satisfaction.”

Cook also told attendees that businesses really can’t ignore e-commerce because it is becoming more established. “The opportunity is getting bigger,” Cook said. “Up to 25% of business orders already are from the web, and that’s despite poor user experiences.”

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