B2C commerce has undergone a radical digital transformation in the last decade. Amazon has made sure of that, giving consumers an easy and convenient shopping experience that has been elevated to the loftiest of gold standards, especially for tech-savvy millennials.
What is becoming increasingly apparent, however, is that millennials have come to expect the same seamless, personalized, and ultra-simple brand interactions they get in the B2C sphere when they buy for work. As B2B buyers, they want instant access to the most relevant information and be able to access it anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
After all, B2B buyers aren’t that different from their personal-consumption selves—they are real people with the same behaviors and preferences whether they are at work or not. The chief difference lies in that B2B buyers have a process to follow and others they are accountable to at the end of the day. Yet they still prefer the intuitive purchasing experience that they know exists: one that is quick and painless and always has the customer at its heart.
Just as other industries have been disrupted to meet the new expectations of millennials, many B2B companies are in desperate need of a dramatic digital facelift. The old adage that the “customer knows best” is true as always, but the businesses that are thriving are those that know their customers best. Those companies are poised to maintain their edge in today’s ultra-competitive landscape.
The anatomy of today’s B2B buyer
Millennials are leading the new wave of B2B buyers. Seventy-three percent of millennials provide input into companies’ buying decisions and 34% act as decision-makers. Gone are the days when buyers had to spend hours on the phone with suppliers to learn about their products—today’s buyers don’t like to be sold to. They want to be able to perform their own research, make an informed decision, and then buy.
In the digital age—increasingly dominated by smartphone-only internet users—buyers have plenty of quality information to guide them through the purchasing process without ever speaking to a salesperson.
Buyers are visiting B2B commerce sites to repurchase/replenish items they regularly purchase, as well as research and purchase new products.
In fact, this is how today’s B2B buyers are spending their time:
- 27% researching independently online
- 22% meeting with their buying group
- 18% researching independently offline
- 17% meeting with potential suppliers
- 16% other
To B2B sellers, this redefined B2B customer journey requires an obvious response: to position themselves to influence buyers as much as possible during the initial research phase.
The B2B journey begins with search
Studies show that 71% of B2B buyers begin their research with generic Google searches. Not surprisingly, 57% of B2B marketers report that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative. According to B2B Marketing Zone, 45% of enterprises are investing more than $20,000 each month in SEO in order to stay competitive.
B2B buyers are sizing you up
Today’s B2B buyer will complete 57% of the purchasing journey before ever speaking to a sales representative. Therefore, capturing the buyer’s attention during the search phase is absolutely critical, and 73% of B2B buyers say they want a personalized, B2C-like customer experience during the research phase, with fast response times and 24/7 availability—on the same platforms that they use as personal consumers.
Despite this, nearly half of companies say they are aware that they are falling short of delivering the personalized experiences their B2B customers want. It isn’t because they don’t understand the need: A full 73% of B2B executives say that they know customer expectations for personalized experiences are significantly higher today compared to just a few years ago.
The buyers researching online are hungry for quick access to relevant information. They are shopping on behalf of many different consumers with dynamic needs and have strict product requirements that need to meet specific parameters based on the end-users’ needs. How, where, and when the product will be used can vary by industry, company, and job function.
B2B buyers are increasingly on the go
Another millennial-driven change to the B2B buying journey is a sharp increase in mobile usage among buyers. Gen Z and older workers are jumping on the smartphone-at-work bandwagon as well, bringing the average number of hours a day B2B workers spend on their phones to three hours per day, up from two hours per day in 2017. The need for an intuitive mobile customer experience has never been greater.
B2B buyers need team consensus
Unlike the B2C buying experience, B2B buyers are typically accountable to teams ranging from two to 10 employees, depending on how complex and large the purchasing company is. Each buyer on the team needs to bring their own research to the table at meetings, and each of them wants to have the most accurately to-spec, relevant information possible. It doesn’t hurt to look knowledgeable at the meeting room table.
The need: Easy, intuitive, decision-making
In a recent survey, 77% of B2B buyers stated that their latest purchase was very complex or difficult. So how can we slash the time that it takes for B2B buyers to get the right information on specific products they need to buy? Sitecore Discover is the perfect technical solution.
7 ways Sitecore Discover optimizes the B2B customer journey
Sitecore Discover’s revolutionary AI- and machine-learning-powered customer engagement solution gives B2B businesses robust tools to earn buyers’ loyalty, giving them exactly what they want at lightning speed. There are seven key ways Sitecore Discover’s cutting-edge technology gives your site a competitive advantage.
1. Boosting your organic traffic
Sitecore Discover gives you individualized search results and product listing pages that dramatically improve conversion rates and boost your site’s SEO indexing. Better SEO means better-quality traffic—and a win-win scenario for companies on both sides of the B2B equation.
In addition, the AI behind Sitecore Discover’s smart, intent-driven search swiftly predicts what buyers need based on individual relevancy factors.
2. It makes the right first impression
Sitecore Discover’s multi-layered AI creates individualized experiences not only for the buyer’s organization, but the individual buyer as well. While other competitors in the personalization technology space segment their results to only the first or primary behavior, only Sitecore Discover incorporates all customer behavior in real time.
Using multi-layered AI to hone the buyer’s experience on your site offers shoppers the ultimate in product relevance—saving them precious time and elevating their impression of your brand.
3. Ease and convenience for buyers
Buyers want a system that learns about them—that instantly gets them. Nothing could be more convenient than a site that detects the context of their needs and their buying intent, responding with the most relevant responses from their first click. This is true for B2C shoppers and even more critical as B2B buyers try to maximize their time and meet their deadlines. Sitecore Discover’s AI reduces the number of steps buyers have to take in the purchase funnel.
With Sitecore Discover, shoppers don’t have to hunt for what they need; they get to choose from an instantly surfacing, relevant variety of products which also enhances discovery of long tail products. Sitecore Discover’s AI eliminates much of the effort a customer would otherwise have to expend going down many prescribed paths, like a proverbial set of “rabbit holes.” By using AI to detect relationships between buyers and product attributes, Sitecore Discover predicts the buyer's intent. Buyers will only be presented items based on their organizational contract, at their negotiated pricing/discount, inventory, and compatibility or fitment with their existing product applications.
4. Providing a seamless, individualized shopping experience
Sitecore Discover is architected based on a centralized customer profile, creating an effortless, highly individualized customer journey for the B2B buyer. It is fully integrated across preview search, full-page search, category and landing pages, recommendations, and critically, content, and email.
Sitecore Discover partners place a high value on this connectivity, and in fact, 80% of U.S. marketers state that they want to use integrated marketing and advertising technology from a single vendor.
5. Impactful mobile experiences
As mentioned above, smartphones are playing an ever-larger role in B2B professionals’ workdays. Tailored experiences on mobile devices are critical, and by prioritizing products in a precise way for the individual customer, Sitecore Discover takes advantage of limited screen real estate.
6. Advanced analytics
Sitecore Discover gives e-commerce businesses the tools to measure exactly how well its technology is performing so you can calculate your ROI, dollar-to-dollar. Most B2B e-commerce sites don’t yet have that advantage: Only 35% of B2B content marketers say they can measure ROI, 47% admit that they can’t measure ROI, and 18% are unsure—which doesn’t bode well, does it?
What’s more, Sitecore Discover’s breakthrough analytics capabilities go beyond basic site performance trends to give retail marketers and merchandisers focused analytics that uncover how shoppers buy. The insights Sitecore Discover unearths about shopper behavior, such as revenue, average order size, abandoned cart rate, page views, and conversion rates can be turned into opportunities to drive new business decisions. This has a far greater potential impact than what is generally available in terms of general-purpose analytics.
7. Individualization brings value
At last, we come to the bottom line: Sitecore Discover partners report site conversion rate increases of 25% and an average overall revenue increase of 15%. In an ultra-competitive, fast-paced B2B environment in which companies that aren’t growing are failing, those are growth rates worth investigating.
Arrange a demo today
Sitecore Discover has the power to completely transform B2B buyers’ experience with your site. Sitecore Discover’s individualization platform routinely outperforms all other vendors in head-to-head and has become a driving of growth for brands like TOMS, Reeds Jewelers, Marmot, Ulta, Skechers, and O’Neill. To achieve outstanding results like theirs, schedule a demo today.