When you think of business in 2021, it’s unlikely that you think of big conventions, sales reps and knocks on the door. But until very recently, that was still the way a lot of B2B business was conducted.
The pandemic pushed a lot of these businesses online and the whole Ecommerce landscape has been changed as a result. For years, B2C has been the focus of much of the progress within the Ecommerce industry. Now, the focus is shifting.
According to Statista, the B2B in the UK sector was worth £159.3 billion. That’s forecast to exceed £188 billion by 2024.
Moving online opened B2B businesses up to new markets that gave them access not only to potentially massive new revenue streams but new customer expectations as well.
A lot of rushed B2B Ecommerce websites led to, let’s call it “botched websites”, mistakes that just ruin conversion rates.
Top 10 most common B2B conversion rates mistakes in Ecommerce
Impersonal buying experience
What do B2B and B2C customers both have in common? Well, pretty much everything.
Visitors to your B2B site are just B2C customers when they’re not at work. Treating your customers in this way is one of the biggest B2B conversion rates mistakes and is a leading factor in causing customers to look elsewhere. Studies have shown that as many as 80% of B2B customers claim to have switched vendors after a poor user experience.
This is just one example of how things are changing. The order values are the same, the buying circle is still larger, but the expectations have changed and those making the orders want an experience that is as personalised and intuitive as what they get from B2C stores.
The differences in the B2B E-commerce:
- The buying cycle is a bit longer
- Values of orders are higher
- More people may be included in the purchase decision (depending on the nature of the business)
2. Lack of audience understanding
Part of a sales rep’s role was to form an understanding and a relationship with a business’s customers. Online, that has to be done by your website.
It’s important to develop an understanding of how your customers interact with your site. Doing this effectively can highlight areas where customers are having difficulty completing their purchasing journeys.
Understanding user journeys and intent is one of the best ways to increase B2B conversions and can be done easily enough through user journey mapping, analysing the right metrics on Google Analytics and testing.
3. Inadequate payment options
B2B businesses need to offer more in this field. While the model is becoming more aligned with B2C in an experiential context, it still needs to retain payment options that are suitable for B2B customers.
A purchase order functionality or a payment system that allows for credit and deferred payments go a long way to matching this need and does a lot to develop trust between your customers and you.
The value of this trust cannot be understated, studies have shown that a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in profits over a relationship’s lifetime. This is because returning customers have on average a 70% higher spending value than a single visit.
4. No variable VAT
Businesses selling to other businesses should not be adding VAT to their prices.
This is because businesses will pay the added tax on their end. This makes life a lot easier for B2B Ecommerce merchants as it is more common for them to sell large value shipments to international clients than it is for B2C businesses. This means that the merchant doesn’t have to calculate all these differing tax levels that apply to different places.
But, more importantly, adding VAT to your prices also means that your customers will effectively pay a double shot of VAT as they will still have to do it on their end when the order arrives. Most customers know this and will look elsewhere if your prices are noticeably higher due to misplaced VAT.
5. Specific pricing
There has always been some room for negotiation in the B2B market that stretches back far beyond the beginning of Ecommerce. This isn’t true for all businesses operating in all industries, but it is true for many. For example, purveyors of fresh goods to hospitality businesses will often have different pricing agreements with different clients depending on the length of their relationship with the client, the average value of their orders and the stock they currently have in.
A lot more dialogue is involved in B2B transactions and this is where the negotiation takes place. This does happen less when dealing with Ecommerce but you should always make it clear to your customers that you are willing to talk. This again ties in with the point made in the last conversion mistake about establishing trust between your clients and your business.
6. Hidden availability
Product pages on B2C sites will often include information about a product’s availability. The reasoning is that if a customer sees that a lot of an item has been sold then they will be more likely to trust it and if they see that there is only limited availability left then they will feel the pressure to purchase before it’s too late.
This is not much different in a B2B context except there are higher consequences. A business owner needs to know that they will be able to get the stock they need that will keep their livelihood in good health. If you were in this position, think how you would react if you checked your vendor’s store and found that one of your best-selling items is about to run out? Well, you would make sure you got it fast right?
Again, this is a good thing for customer retention as it negates the risk of clients being forced to look at your competition. This in turn keeps your stock ticking over and provides you with a fast return on your investment and improves conversion rates.
7. Poorly designed site
This is rule 0 of increasing B2B conversion rates or any others for that matter. Just because you operate in a slightly different market or may be new to Ecommerce is no excuse for a poorly orchestrated site and a poor UX.
The stats speak for themselves. 88% of consumers said they would not return to a site after a poor user experience, 85% believe a site’s mobile site should be as powerful as their desktop version and 39% have said that they would leave a site if images took too long to load (this is anything above two seconds).
Pages need to be clear and simple. Call to action buttons should be clear and simple. In fact, everything should be clear and simple – the rules for a good product page optimisation are the same for B2B as they are for B2C.
8. Your website is just not secure enough
A lot more hinges on B2B transactions than it does on most B2C ones. The transaction values are larger and people’s livelihoods and reputations can rely on these orders running smoothly and securely.
A Secure Sockets Layer certificate (SSL) is an easily obtainable stamp of authenticity. Not only does it build trust amongst your customers by showing them that you have taken their security into consideration, but it will also improve your search rankings.
SEO and B2B conversion rate optimisation go hand in hand in much the same way as they do in the B2C market. The higher up the search rankings you climb and the more trust you can develop amongst your audience will be reflected in your conversion rates in the end.
9. Poor product descriptions
B2B customers want to know as much as possible about the products they are buying. Any minor oversight could have substantial unforeseen consequences on their business so they need to be absolutely certain that this purchase is a safe investment.
Your job as a B2B Ecommerce merchant is to answer as many potential customer questions as possible before they’ve even thought to ask them. Product images are the most powerful sales tool at your disposal, so use them wisely. Show your products in use or in situ, show them in motion, do anything you can to make it easier for your customers to imagine themselves with the product.
Use your text description to give any information that can’t be illustrated by the pictures. For example, information about ingredients or where materials have been sourced and manufactured. This is all as much about giving customers reasons not to drop-off as it is about giving them reasons to buy.
10. No tracking
As we’ve already pointed out, B2B customers need to trust you and an easy to access order tracking system is a great way to do this and grow conversion rates.
This is an issue of security as well. B2C customers are coming to expect tracking options on orders worth tens of pounds, so why wouldn’t B2B customers expect it on orders that are worth thousands?
Tracking is now a matter of common courtesy and is something that much of your competition will already be offering.
Time to act
B2B is the fastest-growing field within Ecommerce and this will require you to adapt constantly. It’s important that you regularly review your conversion rate optimisation functions to ensure that you are keeping on top of trends, delivering powerful and memorable customer experiences and getting the most out of your Ecommerce business.