Insider's Guide to IRCE: Going after the big bucks

Business- to-business e-commerce offers big rewards for companies that figure out how to play the game. And at this year's IRCE there are seven sessions featuring more than a dozen industry experts prepared to share insights about the fast-growing arena of B2B online selling.

Paul Demery

Each of these sessions will focus on how to move forward in B2B e-commerce—including tips on how to take advantage of the popularity of mobile devices in e-commerce, and how companies can improve their sales by reaching both consumers and businesses online.

For those IRCE attendees from the B2B world who can't make all of these sessions on Thursday, June 12, here are three must-see sessions:

• "The Top Three Metrics that Matter for B2B Marketers in 2014" features Andy Hoar, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst who covers B2B e-commerce. The session will set the stage for the B2B track as Hoar drills down on the key performance metrics that B2B e-commerce managers must address. Companies "must know where their B2B initiatives stand with regard to corporate goals and to benchmark the competition," he says. Among the data he will present, which he gathered in a survey conducted with Internet Retailer: B2B companies report an average web site conversion rate of 10%, and a combined average order value of $1,060—both far ahead of the same metrics as measured in retail e-commerce.

• "How Smart B2B Site Design Can Ease Shopping for Buyers and Boost Sales" features three experts, including Susie Sapsara, manager, global e-business at industrial safety products manufacturer MSA Safety Inc. With B2B buyers accustomed to shopping on user-friendly retail e-commerce sites, there is pressure on B2B web managers to add similar features. But those managers should take a hard look at which site design options produce the best return on investment, she says. "B2B companies are leveraging digital to maximize enterprise and customer omnichannel experiences," Sapsara says. She will address the projects MSA undertook to support consumers on the web, how MSA picked those projects and how it is tracking its return on investment.

• One of the potential gold mines of B2B e-commerce for many manufacturers and distributors is when B2B merchants set up shop to sell online they can also sell to consumers. Eric McGregor, manager of e-commerce at Tacoma Screw Products Inc., a distributor of industrial fasteners and related supplies, will discuss how Tacoma wound up attracting consumers as well as business buyers when it upgraded TacomaScrew.com. He will speak during a session entitled "Master B2B to Reach New B2C Shoppers and Markets." Shoppers, for example, can now use improved site search and navigation to look for products by multiple characteristics, such as length and diameter. "I'll cover how we approached the development of our e-commerce site to accommodate and target B2C, focusing on user interface and site usability, even as most of our business is B2B," he says.

Paul Demery is managing editor of B2B e-commerce for Internet Retailer and editor of the weekly e-newsletter B2Bec News. Paul has covered every Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition to date.

Highlighted Sessions
The Top Three Metrics that Matter for B2B Marketers in 2014 Thursday, June 12, 10:30-11:00 a.m.
How Smart B2B Site Design Can Ease Shopping for Buyers and Boost Sales Thursday, June 12, 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Master B2B to Reach New B2C Shoppers and Markets Thursday, June 12, 2:45-3:15 p.m.