5 Vital Store Design Strategies for Online B2B Wholesalers

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Summer Updated: January 01, 2021

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Whether you are brand new to conducting business online, or you’ve done it for a while, it’s important to get it right. It needs to be easy to engage with your business, and you need to keep your customers happy. But there are particular ways for B2B wholesalers to design their stores to be effective.

The B2B wholesale industry contributes to the development of global business. In the US, the wholesale industry yields $8.3 trillion of annual revenue. This is projected to increase by 1.9% by 2023. As more businesses adopt the B2B ecommerce model, buyers’ expectations are changing. They’re becoming more similar to those of B2C customers. Businesses need to adapt in order to meet the changing needs of customers.

The core function of B2B wholesale is to sell products directly to retailers, and in bulk amounts. Using the internet can cut out the middle man, giving brands more power and control. But it also requires effective marketing to attract and maintain customer loyalty. Having a strong online brand presence is more important than ever. As is making sure the process is tailored to the companies you work with, and the individuals within.

Here are five design strategies that are vital for online B2B wholesalers to consider.

Table of contents

Develop a strong brand presence

Excellent branding agencies can change how customers perceive your company. It can drive new business, as well as increasing brand awareness. Your brand has direct monetary value for your business.

The strength of a brand has a direct impact on financial metrics. It can impact sales effectiveness, market share, and margins. On average, B2B brand building should account for 46% of marketing spend and 54% of lead generation.

Reselling items to retail partners can help with developing your business. This can increase visibility and reach, and turn your brand into the go-to choice in its field. Online brand visibility is an important part of any successful business.

B2B buying behaviors
How are B2B customers buying behavior?(Source:Bigcommerce)

These days, the way people interact with B2B brands is very similar to how they engage with B2C brands. Emotional campaigns are more effective in the long term than rational ones. People are drawn to things that make them feel more positively about the brand. They prefer campaigns that help them connect, rather than just communicate direct information.

Creativity, storytelling, and branding are as important as the product’s features and price. Emotional campaigns are better at long-term brand building. But rational campaigns are often better at short-term sales activation.

Advertising investment, then, should be balanced between long-term brand building and short-term sales activation. Both are needed, but B2B requires more activation than B2C. The optimum is considered to be around 45% brand, 55% activation.

Messages and emotions in b2b
Messages and Emotions in B2B (Source: The B2B institute)

Creating a solid brand can impact your B2B business in many ways, for example it may:

  • Increase the ability to attract and retain high quality employees
  • Boost customer loyalty
  • Decrease price sensitivity
  • Increase market share and give a competitive edge
  • Improve ROI (return on investment)

Any campaign needs to maximize its impact on those who see it. One key metric with regards to this is ‘mental availability’. Mental availability is the extent to which the brand comes to mind in buying situations. Campaigns that build ‘mental availability’ tend to be more effective.

People prefer not to apply logic and analysis to make a decision, if they can avoid it. They generally want to minimize decision fatigue, and prefer to use mental shortcuts. Given a choice between several options, people tend to prefer the one that comes to mind most easily.

Mental availability is important in both B2C and B2B interactions. B2B customers are considered to be carefully researched and considered. But data suggests that mental availability still matters. Campaigns that aim to increase a firm’s share of mind are much the most effective. The more famous (i.e. well-known) they make the company, the better the business results.

Mental availability drives growht in B2B
Mental availability drives growht in B2B (Source: The B2B institute)

The initial impression of the store will play a big role in business success. Having a clear, tidy, and unique web design is crucial. Typography, font size, theme colors, and product photo illustrations should be carefully chosen. The design elements should be streamlined across all aspects of the brand. A well-organized web presence allows your products to be found with ease. Therefore, customers will be more willing to make a purchase.

Create a personalized experience for your customers

All buyers want to have personalized shopping experiences. Try to give your customers the impression that your web page is designed just for them. Personalization shows that a business understands their customers’ preferences and demands. More than that, it shows it will try its best to fulfill each client’s expectation.

B2B purchasing processes commonly involve multiple people. Often they will be at different levels of the company hierarchy. It can be a mistake to only tailor content to decision makers, who may never actually use a product or service.

The backbone of any business is its customer service. Using an ‘auto attendant phone’ means you’ll never miss customer calls. It will filter and manage call flow, ensuring all calls are answered promptly. This will allow your business to provide a better experience for its customers. Predictive dialers can also help to create personalized experiences.

Design your online store to cater for typical B2B payment options

Many ecommerce businesses are still offering old fashioned payment methods. These include purchase orders, trade credit, and even paper checks. Most B2B firms offer the ability to pay with a credit card. However, these are more used for smaller orders and can have high interest rates and fees.

With online stores, checkout is one of the most important parts of the website. This is where prospects are converted into customers; it’s where the money comes from. B2B ecommerce requires a flexible way of allowing people to select payment methods. It needs more payment methods than in a B2C e-commerce environment, and will need to adapt to the customer. The design solution must cater for the variation.

A B2B platform should have B2B ecommerce features directed at B2B buyers. It’s important to facilitate bulk ordering and pricing, and ensure inventory availability. To enable customers to become repeat buyers, make sure to have past order duplication, too.

Make purchasing easy

When you build an online store, you need to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you. Creating smooth user flows is particularly important for B2B wholesalers. A streamlined process means fewer errors, delays, or back orders. It also saves time and money for customers.

This makes them more likely to order and re-order from your business. Providing visual feedback of a request being processed will help the buyer feel safe. Without any feedback, users start wondering if their request has actually been registered.

Automation strategies can also save time for your business and boost conversions. You can use marketing automation to promote your website, which drives up traffic. More traffic equals more customers and, therefore, sales.

But, an increase in traffic can also cause issues for your website. Avoid website crashes by taking steps to address performance during traffic peaks.

Mental availability drives growht in B2B
Page load affects the B2B purchsing process (Source: Diginow)

Take the time to properly understand your customers

A good business understands how its customers shop and how they think. Getting into your customers’ minds will help to create a more seamless shopping experience.

Consumers are often bombarded with too much choice and too many decisions. Having too many options can make them less likely to carry through with making a purchase. It can be a good tactic to offer a limited number of tailored options to customers.

Listen to what they want and offer them one or two solutions. This will make your business appear knowledgeable and encourage customers to return.

Customers like the convenience of using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Stores should focus on having multiple channels to cater for all types of customers.

More channels means more avenues for people to use to reach your products. The more opportunities you have, the more sales and profits will improve. Your store will stand out if you can make the most out of utilizing multiple platforms.

B2B buying channels
B2B buying channels

A good catalogue is an important tool for selling to wholesale customers. Create online brochures to send to prospective customers. It will mean you’re providing good customer service, even at times you may not be directly available. Giving your buyers information before they even ask for it will give you an edge.

It’s great if your B2B customers are very loyal to your business, and happy with the products and service. But it’s still important to check in with them in person, contacting them after a purchase.

You can use these follow up calls to make them feel important, and to collect feedback. You could make sure they found everything they needed on your website. Or you could ask how they feel your sales process can be improved.

It also gives the opportunity to suggest other items to combine with their order. The options are endless, and you’ll want to make the most of connecting with your customers.

Make sure to map out the journeys of your top customers to learn how they use your products. You can pre-empt when your customers will run out of their products and when it’s time to remarket to them. This will work to increase your revenue, and keep your customers happy.

Summing up

Sometimes we can forget that people buying B2B wholesale are just ordinary customers. Sure, there are some differences when looking at B2B interactions specifically. But all customers are basically driven by the same things. Great customer service and a personalised experience is important.

Take the time to understand your customers personally. Find out what they want, like, and need. Brands must focus on creating a strong presence and becoming known in their industry. Automation tools can make a big difference for all parties involved in the process. These can make everything work much more seamlessly.

Try to follow these tips when designing your online store. Before long you’ll find you have a dedicated and happy client base. This will lead to more brand awareness, and many more sales.

Auhthor Bio?

John Allen - RingCentral US

John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and integrated meeting solutions provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Bigcommerce and Sendinblue.

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