Convergence Data sponsored the November 2022 B2B Online conference here in Orlando. We had the opportunity to discuss the latest eCommerce insights and challenges with many organizations that are part of the collective B2B community; in particular, how customer experience can be used to drive eCommerce planning.
As many companies enter into their fiscal year planning phase, here are some high-level customer insights:💡
🔎 Findability: “We couldn’t find your product!” Whether through a B2B or B2C relationship, end customers have high expectations around search and product findability. If a customer has difficulty finding your product, they are less likely to purchase it, resulting in abandoning your site for a competitor's. Findability can absolutely make or break an eCommerce strategy. Data classification and deeper attribution will empower this.
🎁 Meeting Expectation: I wish it were easier to buy from these guys! Given the increasing drive across the industry to enable a curated and highly personalized B2C experience, customers nowadays have high expectations in user experience. Much of this has bled over into the B2B space, as well. That's right! B2B customers also anticipate seeing search content that is personalized and immediately relevant to their segment. As a result, many teams are hard at work elevating the user experience for B2B stakeholders to make it closer to what B2C end customers would expect. There are ways to tackle this, many of which involve increasing automation and (of course) having a foundational data taxonomy that supports that scale and frees up your team's resources to focus on other priorities.
🔥 Innovation vs. Historical Success: It's not always about the hot new product! Many eCommerce and product teams spend countless cycles in driving new product innovation. While that can be a great strategy for keeping the product portfolio and branding relevant within your industry, teams sometimes miss the deeper inherent value that resides in their existing product mix. Many of these insights can provide a helpful gauge into what products and bundles have been historically popular among the customer base. With the right level of reporting and analytics, existing customer purchase data should help in telling that story to inform how and where to fold new product offerings into the portfolio mix.
⛔ Beyond Search: Search is not enough! Many of the organizations we met with had robust search capabilities in place and had already invested in solutions to support findability. Yet, they were still struggling to meet their eCommerce goals. A search solution alone will not facilitate findability unless you have clean, structured product data that is indexed by the search tool. In fact, many organizations still lack strong data classification and attribution to drive a truly effective search experience. They key to unlocking that investment is a strong data classification and attribution strategy. This will enable filtering and quickly get the right product (and associated content) in front of your customer. Your search capability should also enable wireframing of the search experience. This is an element of Customer Experience Strategy that is often overlooked. The ability to put yourself in the customer's shoes as they navigate product categories and individual products can be a key differentiator to their experience.
🛤️ Smoothing the Path: This process is so clunky! The ability for end customers to complete tasks within a journey is extremely important to powering their strategy. In essence, it's all about making it easy to purchase. Keeping the processes lightweight and easy to navigate will drive significant efficiency gains. The same goes for internal processes to launch and manage new products. The use of a workflow engine can, indeed, be leveraged to reduce operational friction. Teams that currently do this work manually will typically spend excessive cycles getting product launched, tracking their buyers within the process and intervening when disruptions occur. This will not only prove inefficient, but also costly when considering the cycle time your team will spend in remediating manual process bottlenecks.
🔮 Prognostication and Planning: What does the future hold for your customers and your product portfolio? While it's important to focus on meeting your customer's needs today, it's also critical to find the "sweet spot" where historical data and future planning efforts are correlated to draw a more holistic picture of your customer and anticipate what they will want in the future. Beyond looking at roadmaps and program plans, there is another key place to look when deciding where to drive your product portfolio and eCommerce strategy - the past! Some data points to consider are what customers have searched for in the past and how their buying trends align. This exercise can help to drive deeper and more actionable insights into future planning and strategies.
Thanks to everyone who participated in B2B. As usual, it was an excellent exchange of ideas and insights! Until the next conference... 👋