Essent Webinars: 10 Ways to Improve B2B Ecommerce

B2B buyers want the B2C ecommerce experience. But what they all too often get is "Shopping Agony." We explore ecommerce features and functionality that can be used to create a consumer-like experience for B2B buyers and ultimately drive more sales.

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Slide 1: End Shopping Agony for Business Buyers
Hello and welcome to the latest webinar from Essent. Today we’re going to take a look at how to create the consumer ecommerce experience that business buyers want. Specifically, we’re going to look at 10 consumer Ecommerce tools that can be used in business Ecommerce to improve the experience.

Slide 2: Moderator: Douglas B. Brill
My name is Doug Brill. I’m the Essent marketing coordinator and I specialize in the promotional products industry. I’m also your moderator today.

Slide 3: About Essent
Before we begin, a very brief overview of Essent. Essent is the leader in providing Comprehensive business management solutions since 1981 Essent has been serving Distributors, Decorators, and Suppliers in the promotional products industry since the year 2000 $3 Billion in Commerce flows through Essent’s solutions each year

Slide 4: If You Have Questions
We expect you may have some questions, but in an effort to keep the webinar concise for everyone we can only answer them off line. Feel free to use the webinar control panel to submit questions, and we’ll be happy to answer them for you after the webinar has ended.

Slide 5: "94 percent of B2B buyers wanted suppliers to make their Web sites more like B2C websites.”
So why should businesses make their ecommerce more like consumer ecommerce? In short, that’s what buyers want. According to a Forbes study, "94 percent of B2B buyers wanted suppliers to make their Web sites more like B2C Web sites.”

Slide 6: "B2B customers expect the same type of online interaction as … a B2C shopping experience.”
According to Oracle, "B2B customers expect the same type of online interaction as … a B2C shopping experience.”

Slide 7: "Technologies make the difference between consumer like shopping and shopping agony.”
Thankfully, technology is here to help. According to Ariba, "Technologies make the difference between consumer like shopping and shopping agony.”

Slide 8: Presenter: Chimaine Shadd
And with that, here to bring you a closer look at improving ecommerce is your presenter, Chimaine Shadd. Chimaine is a sales coordinator for Essent. And she’s also a specialist in the promotional products industry. Chimaine is going to tell you more about how to improve ecommerce to drive more sales by giving business buyers the experience they want.

Slide 9: Topic
In today’s webinar, we will be identifying and highlighting some of the areas that B2C ecommerce is doing successfully and WHY it should be applied to the B2B shopping experience to achieve the same results.

Slide 10: 10 Tools to Consider
We’ve identified at least 10 Items features that are common in consumer ecommerce and can be applied to business ecommerce for a better experience. They are … [Read individually as they appear]

Slide 11: Deals and Promotions
Let’s take a look at our First Tool: Deals and Promotions. Deal and Promotions play a big part in the success of B2C eCommerce because they’re ubiquitous in almost any B2C shopping experience.

Slide 12: Deals and Promotions (continued)
Ecommerce websites and business management systems need to be capable of generating, processing and tracking various promotions from start to finish. This might include: A percentage off to bring buyers in, whether it’s right off the bat or triggered by a certain spending amount. Free shipping, again right off the bat or triggered by spending. And quantity-based pricing. The most common example is Buy One Get One Free. But business ecommerce often deals in volumes that lend themselves to more nuanced price breaks. Such as a price break at 500 units, or a price break for Unit A when you buy so many of Unit B.

Slide 13: Managing Deals and Promotions
But that’s the easy part. The more difficult part is managing the promotion all the way through the order lifecycle. It needs to be reflected in the quoting phase. Then in order processing. Then again in shipping. And again in invoicing. And finally in accounting.

Slide 14: Integrating Deals and Promotions
Integration is going to make this management much easier. Specifically, a company wants to integrate its ecommerce website with its back office Business Management System or ERP. That way, the company can offer the deal on the website. Then it automatically flows into the back office. And not only does it flow into the back office, but once it’s in the back office it can flow through every step of the order lifecycle.

Slide 15: 52% of abandoned shopping carts are triggered by shipping and handling costs.
To further support the power of Deals and Promotions … Studies show that 52% of Abandoned Shopping Carts are Triggered by shipping & handling costs. So a promotion that reduces shipping and handling costs will increase sales.

Slide 16: 88% of consumers would be more likely to shop at a site if they were promised free shipping.
88% of consumers would be more likely to buy if they were offered a free-shipping promotion.

Slide 17: Shoppers spend 30% more per order when free shipping is included.
Shoppers spend 30% more Per Order when Free Shipping is included!

Slide 18: User-Friendly Catalogs.
Product catalogs are fundamental to the ecommerce experience. Without something to sell, there is no ecommerce. So improving the catalog means fundamentally improving the ecommerce experience – and making it more like the consumer ecommerce that buyers expect.

Slide 19: User-Friendly Catalogs (continued)
User-friendly catalogs make it easy for buyers to find what they want. But through related items, categories, and subcategories, they also make it easy for buyers to find items they didn’t even know they wanted. Most importantly, they’re easy to use. They don’t put the onus on the buyer to slog through the entire catalog to find products

Slide 20: User-Friendly Catalogs: Tools
One way to improve catalogs to fundamentally improve ecommerce is providing product images. When the buyer sees an image of what they want without continued searching and reading, that’s the quickest way for the buyer to get the item in the cart. When it comes to product descriptions, the manufacturer specs aren’t enough. You want keyword-rich product descriptions. They’re people friendly because they present what’s for sale. And just as importantly they’re robot friendly because the keywords make the items easier for search engines to find. Product grouping is important because without it, buyers are forced to wade through hundreds of projects individually. Buyers usually don’t know the exact product they want. But they may know they want writing instruments. Putting them all in a group allows the buyer to search the group for the specific item. Search filtering and sorting puts a fine touch on the catalog experience. Buyers can search only within one group. And they can sort items by factors like price, color, size, or brand. The searching precision provides the ease of use that buyers expect.

Slide 21: Integrating Catalogs
And once again, integrating the ecommerce website with the back office is the way to make catalogs user-friendly. You can simply manage images and descriptions in the back office. You can group and categorize products in the back office. And you can insert and define searchable factors in the back office. And now just by managing the back office, all of these factors are automatically reflected on the ecommerce website.

Slide 22: User-Friendly Shopping Carts
Like product catalogs, shopping carts are fundamental to ecommerce. So improving the cart means fundamentally improving the ecommerce experience.

Slide 23: User-Friendly Shopping Carts (continued)
When we talk about improving the ecommerce cart, we’re talking about removing barriers to sales. Some major tools that can be employed in the shopping cart to remove barriers to sales are Abandoned Cart Notification, Line-item Ship-to, and Guest Checkout.

Slide 24: Carts: Abandoned Cart Notification
Getting a buyer to place items in a cart is far from getting a buyer to buy In all types of ecommerce, more than half of shopping carts are abandoned – meaning someone picked out items to buy but then never bought them. And they’re not always a dissatisfied shopper. Many buyers use the cart to comparison shop. They fill up a cart to see the total cost. Then they may do the same with similar items on another site. And buyers commonly fill up a cart planning to come back to it later.

Slide 25: Carts: Abandoned Cart Notification
So it’s critical, first of all, to retain the contents of the cart. There are any number of reasons the buyer might be coming back to it. Then the seller can send a notice to the buyer reminding them of the contents of the cart. Systems can be set up to do this automatically, such as sending an automated email. And companies can even offer a promotion to close the sale. An automated email that displays the contents of the cart and now offers free shipping might be all it takes to convert that cart.

Slide 26: Carts: Line-Item Ship-To
Another way to remove a barrier to sale in the shopping cart is by offering Line-Item Ship-To

Slide 27: Carts: Line-Item Ship-To (continued)
What we mean by Line-Item Ship-To is that Item A can ship to one address, Item B can ship to a separate address, and so on. For example, if the buyer needs the shirts to go one place for embroidery and the mugs to go to another place for imprinting, and the pens to go directly to the tradeshow, the buyer can do that.

Slide 28: Carts: Without Line-Item Ship-To
Without Line-Item Ship-To, this can be a big hassle. And it could possibly nix the transaction. To get the items to their respective locations, the buyer is going to need to unpack the cart and create separate orders. And besides being a hassle, this could potentially include extra shipping costs that makes the buyer think twice. Another option is to ship the order to one address, then reship the items to their respective locations from there. Another hassle.

Slide 29: Carts: Line-Item Ship-To
Once the cart is full and the buyer is ready to buy, the seller doesn’t want to create this final hurdle to conversion. So ecommerce systems need a shipping engine that can handle this type of nuance for a better buyer experience.

Slide 30: Carts: Guest Checkout
Another major barrier within the shopping cart is required registration. Or, put another, way, the lack of Guest Checkout.

Slide 31: Carts: Guest Checkout (continued)
Studies show that 25% of ecommerce buyers will leave if they’re forced to register in order to checkout. This could be because the buyer is skeptical of creating an account. Or they just don’t feel like punching in all of their data to create an account.

Slide 32: Carts: Guest Checkout (continued)
Either way, mandatory registration is a barrier that 25% of buyers aren’t willing to clear. So ecommerce systems can theoretically gain 25% more conversions with guest checkout This means not requiring a user name and password. Sellers want to make the guest checkout option apparent, usually in the form of a conspicuous button. And sellers of course need an ecommerce system that supports guest checkout.

Slide 33: Customer Self-Service
Another tool to provide business buyers the consumer ecommerce experience is Customer Self-Service.

Slide 34: Customer Self-Service (continued)
Customer Self-Service is a win-win. The buyer gains convenience, control, and confidence because they can define and configure the items in the order. And the seller saves time and labor because the buyer is already handling all the details. The key to providing customer self-service is an ecommerce system with a built-in Product Configuration Engine.

Slide 35: Self-Service: Configuration Engine
The seller needs to provide only valid configuration options. The seller puts configuration options on the menu, so to speak, and the buyer chooses. For example, this item can be imprinted in these three locations with these color options. It could include options on artwork, imprint location, size, color, and more. This way, the buyer can customize the product. But only within the rules set by the seller.

Slide 36: Self-Service: Well-Formed™ Order
This way, the seller receives a Well-Formed order. It adheres to the sellers rules. It’s complete and accurate because the seller defined the required information and the available options And therefore the order is ready for immediate processing. It doesn’t require any additional work to get started.

Slide 37: Visual Product Configurator
Our next tool to make business ecommerce more like consumer ecommerce is a visual product configurator. A visual product configurator takes Customer Self-Service to the next level by visually representing the product as modifications are made.

Slide 38: Visual Product Configurator (continued)
With a visual product configurator, a buyer can see the Product Image & Price Change in real-time as they customize a product. This website allows a buyer to Select a Product, Decorate it, and then see a Preview of the Decorated product before they order it. Here’s another example of where a customer can order business cards online, fill in the order information, and then see a virtual preview of the business card before it is printed. Buyers gain the convenience of not just configuring the order, but seeing how the look and pricing changes in real time.

Slide 39: Mobile-Friendly Websites
Ecommerce is no longer something that happens only on a desktop computer. In order to provide the great ecommerce experience that buyers expect, the ecommerce website needs to provide a great mobile experience as well.

Slide 40: Mobile-Friendly Ecommerce
The majority of ecommerce traffic is actually generated on mobile devices, like a smartphone. More than a third of ecommerce sales are closed on mobile And mobile ecommerce is expected to grow twice as fast as desktop ecommerce in the coming years.

Slide 41: Mobile-Friendly Ecommerce (continued)
So sellers need an ecommerce content management system that can create a solid mobile experience. This includes Responsive Web Design, where the ecommerce store identifies the size of the device and responds to fit the size. It also includes Adaptive Web Design, where pieces on the website move around, or adapt, to fit the size of the device. And ideally the ecommerce website is capable of both so that it can always provide an optimal User Interface and User Experience.

Slide 42: Mobile Ecommerce: Abandonment
And since we’re talking mobile, it’s a good time to reiterate the importance of abandoned cart notification. More than 90% of ecommerce carts are abandoned. Part of this is that many buyers use their mobile device as a research tool. They compare and research, intending to checkout later on a desktop. So a seller especially doesn’t want to let a mobile buyer forget about a cart. Here, those automatic abandoned cart notifications are critical.

Slide 43: Product Reviews
This brings us to the final tool that we will be highlighting today. Product Reviews…

Slide 44: Product Reviews (continued)
88% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online information is the way buyers are placing their trust in a store, brand or product. But while product reviews are common on consumer ecommerce websites, they’re almost unheard of in B2B ecommerce. That sounds like a problem but it’s really an opportunity. The business ecommerce website that can offer product reviews is offering a feature often seen only in the consumer ecommerce environment

Slide 45: Product Reviews (continued)
Here’s one way product reviews are implemented. The seller can define the survey with the questions and rating system The ecommerce system can then automatically send a survey to people who bought the product. Buyers answer the survey, and credibility is built in because the survey only goes to those who bought the product. And like that, business buyers are getting information that they’re used to seeing only in consumer ecommerce.

Slide 46: 10 Tools to Consider
And this brings us back to our list of tools that provide business buyers the consumer ecommerce experience they want. We discussed … And with that, I’ll turn it back over to Doug who will tell you how to learn more.
Slide 47: End Shopping Agony
Thank you very much, Chimaine. Whether it’s business to business or business to consumer, Essent is dedicated to providing great ecommerce experiences in the promotional products industry. Essent supports all of the features and functionality discussed today. You can visit to learn more. There, you can read more about the top 10, find out more about the Essent ecommerce platform, or schedule time to talk with an Essent representative. Again, visit to learn more and about creating the ecommerce experience that business buyers want. Thanks again to everyone for attending today’s webinar: End Shopping Agony for Business Buyers.