Personalisation sells. B2B businesses who personalise their ecommerce experience sell 30% more than businesses that do not.
But B2B personalisation can present legitimate issues for businesses at the very early stages of implementation. Conceptually, if you have experience of B2C selling, for example, then personalisation to an individual can seem much easier than personalising the experience for the businesses who buy from you.
However, B2B personalisation is very possible, using tried and tested techniques which you probably put to good use already in some ways, in your offline sales channels.
Personalisation starts with data. The problem is that most B2B businesses have too much data and often struggle to make best use of it.
Without your data in order, in a system which can then turn that data into action, it will be difficult to personalise your B2B ecommerce offering to a highly successful degree.
It is easy to say but potentially hard to do: getting your data in order and into an appropriate B2B ecommerce system is the starting point of good personalisation, which goes on to impact business performance.
Small personalised tweaks; search results and personalised display adverts
If there are major and minor areas of personalisation then it can be useful to start with small tweaks to your B2B ecommerce offering, if they are available to you. Even small changes can have big impacts on performance.
Ordering user’s search results by how often they search for or view the products in question, for example, should make it easier and quicker for users to get to the products they are interested in. The quicker you can get users to those products, the more likely they are to place an order.
If you have the ability to place display advertising within your ecommerce store then consider whether you are able to display adverts tailored to the user's interests. If you have businesses who frequently order Coke from you, for example, and there is a new range of Coke flavours available, then placing display advertisements for the new flavours in front of repeat Coke purchasers is likely to produce cross-purchases, which increase overall digital basket values.
Conversely, placing these advertisements in front of customers who never order Coke is likely to have no effect; a good example of why personalisation can have such an impact, rather than taking a site-wide approach.
Expand personalised adverts into personalised offers
Whilst passive display adverts are effective, active personalised offers, delivered through push notifications or in-app alerts, can be even more so.
Again, data is key. If your ecommerce platform can tell you what volume of a certain product a buyer purchases on average then an offer for a percentage off a higher volume purchase may well increase average basket values further for that client.
In the offline world it is likely that you offer different customers different pricing, depending on a range of factors; from order values and volume to the length of time they have been a customer.
There will be a minimum level of expectation that these offline arrangements will also be available online. If you want your existing customers to migrate to your online channels then this level of personalisation will be important to set up, given that it will be expected from day one.
Abandonment actions, where the system responds to an abandoned session, basket or checkout procedure, are relatively common, but can be made more effective by personalisation.
Prompting the user to complete their session by suggesting some common items they usually purchase, for example, can help with overall digital basket completion and may present an opportunity for personalised add-on sales at the same time.
Ultimate personalisation; live chat and system customisation
Live chat functionality arguably presents the ultimate in personalisation, given that a real person can assist with a digital checkout procedure as required.
Such functionality has become relatively commonplace and can assist greatly in the initial onboarding; when buyers used to telephoning a sales team make the transition to becoming online buyers.
The true level of ‘ultimate personalisation’ nowadays therefore may be your ability to customise your ecommerce platform to completely replicate the desired shopping experience of your customers.
Customer reordering, for example, is a common feature of B2B ecommerce platforms, with many of your customers likely making regular purchases of the same items.
There are, though, many ways to do customer reordering. Should you offer one-click order rebuilds? If your customers order the same products but in different quantities each month then maybe an alternative where the order is automatically rebuilt but quantities are entered on a by-product basis may work in your favour.
There are countless other ways of offering reordering and different customers are likely to have their own personal preferences.
Ultimately that level of personalisation is possible, depending on your choice of ecommerce partner and how far you want to take the personalisation you offer.
The golden rule remains though; more personalisation typically equates to higher order values, a happier customer base and a greater volume of online sales for you.