The Rise of Amazon and Alibaba: 3 Ways B-to-B E-Commerce Can Prepare
Online marketplaces Amazon.com and Alibaba have set their sights on the B-to-B commerce market. Just as they've done with B-to-C commerce, they're transforming the customer experience — an area which some in the B-to-B market have long struggled with — to be more responsive to preferences and habits. Merchants are already feeling the impact of their influence in the B-to-B domain, and the depth and breadth of their efforts will only continue to grow in the years to come.
For B-to-B site managers, this presents an opportunity to either get ahead or fall behind. If these consumer-facing e-commerce giants are poised to take control of the market, veteran B-to-B retailers need to adapt their strategy to proactively raise the online experience they provide for the products they sell in a way that mass merchants can't, or won't choose to, match. That all depends on a strong foundation for B-to-B e-commerce, which consists of the following three principles:
Great Site Search
Search can make or break your site, and it's usually the first step in building exceptional customer experiences. B-to-B companies managing large product catalogs are in particular need of effective search functionality. For a specific search (e.g., a part number) one click or two clicks are optimal. For a broad search, two clicks or three clicks are good.
A good rule of thumb is a visitor should be no more than five clicks away from the product they first search for. Any more than that and the shopper gets frustrated. Search functionality can make the difference in attracting and retaining customers. Using search filters in moderation, understanding what phrases or jargon your customers are likely to search for, and partnering with solution providers that can help build your search system are all effective ways to streamline and enhance its functionality.