This article is a two-part series. Watch out for the consecutive releases to access the full content.

Get ready for an engaging discussion that deep-dives into building a successful B2B purchase process. If you’ve got pressing questions about improving your purchase process, you’re in the right place. We’re thrilled to introduce you to Lance Owide, who’s all set to explain how B2B stores can conquer the challenges in the purchase process.

Lance Owide, General Manager B2B at BigCommerce, is one of the inspiring thought leaders in the B2B industry. As a B2B thought leader, he helps wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors understand the nitty-gritty of B2B and choose the right platform and technologies to achieve digital success. He’s one of the visionaries behind BigCommerce’s B2B suite and contributes in strategy development, innovation and ideation.

In this article, we have handpicked some of the highlights of the chat we had with Lance Owide, which include:

  • What makes the B2B purchase process complicated compared to B2C?
  • How can B2B brands attract customers in their research phase?
  • How can B2B merchants simplify the approval process, and how BigCommerce addresses the pain points?
  • How can B2B brands engage buyers during the decision-making period and nudge them to conversion?
  • How should a business approach the price negotiation phase?
  • How can technology help B2B brands provide a great post-purchase experience?

B2B brands have been pulling off a smooth transactional experience online with just their B2B portal for existing customers. However, while aspiring to acquire new customers online, it becomes a totally different ball game. It is time that B2B store owners start realizing that consumers expect more than just a portal-like experience.

From product discovery to purchase and support, you’ll have to create a simplified process for a customer who’s totally new to your interface.

In this podcast episode, Lance Owide offers valuable insights into the art of making a lasting impression from the very first interaction with potential B2B buyers. Whether you’re an established B2B brand with an existing eCommerce store or just starting out, his expert ideas can help you harmonize your online presence with the ever-evolving expectations of your audience.

Read on..

The digitally native buyer has a different expectation than the buyer that has been there before.

1. What makes the B2B purchase process complicated compared to B2C?

It starts with understanding the buyers’ journey, said Lance. He recollected his recent B2C buying experience on Amazon and highlighted the takeaways to set up the difference in B2C and B2B buying journey. Here they are.

B2C purchases are very simple, especially if you know what you are buying. B2C buyers can choose and add a product to a cart in just under 5 minutes. They have the credit card and multiple other convenient payment options. There’s no one else involved in the purchase process.

He then shifted the spotlight to the B2B landscape, illustrating a scenario where a commercial builder navigates the process of procuring construction materials from a manufacturer’s B2B store.

There are a lot of people involved in a B2B procurement team. Every procurement team has specific budget limits and ways to pay for it. The procurement workflow leads to purchase orders. Multiple authorities will review purchase orders, leading to numerous approvals.

If the commercial building company is a privileged customer, they’ll seek price negotiation. They’ll expect the B2B store to provide them with special pricing for all orders, regardless of which warehouse they get the products.

Despite this complicated inter-organizational purchase process, they need a smooth buying process like B2C. The difference in the buyer’s journey is the key here, which makes the B2B purchase process complicated compared to B2C.

2. How can B2B brands attract customers in their research phase?

For B2B buyers, there’s a lot to research. A buyer looking at the website of a safety equipment distributor or a construction material manufacturer needs to showcase many specific details about the product to help the customer decide if it’s the right fit for them. And where do they start looking for it? – Google

Lance quickly quoted statistics from a BigCommerce survey of 1000 B2B buyers. 90% of the respondents in the survey have said that their research starts in search engines. So, it becomes necessary for B2B brands to get their SEO strategy right. How can they achieve it?

It starts with getting your data from wherever it lives (PIM, BigCommerce, ERP) into the product detail pages and making it readable by Google. Here’s where BigCommerce’s partnership with Feedonomics can prove advantageous. Feedonomics can take that product data (specs, description, images, etc.) and transform it into a suitable format for the highest performance on Google.

The takeaway is that when you want to win the Google search engine listing, you must send the correct data in the proper format to surface at the top of the rankings.

Once your SEO is done right, you can start focusing on adding value to buyers in the form of educating them with additional information like demo videos, comparison charts, depreciation details, and more.

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3. How can B2B merchants simplify the approval process, and how BigCommerce addresses the pain points?

Since B2B purchase involves multiple stakeholders, approvals are inevitable. An essential purchase order approval flow starts with junior buyers researching and choosing products from your store. They reach out to their purchase approval managers. Once it is reviewed and approved by the higher hierarchy, they place the order in your store.

Certain organizations might not have a proper approval system in place. They might be doing it in emails or spreadsheets. The lack of a streamlined order approval system is a situation within an organization that buys your products. But, as a B2B merchant, you should look at ways to facilitate it for your customers to improve your opportunities for conversion. So, how do you get started?

Conduct interviews with your buyers and understand their journey before you build something. If you haven’t understood how most of your buyers purchase, you may build something they’ll not use.

B2B customers are familiar with eProcurement systems like Coupa, Ariba, which allow them to complete the approval process and submit orders into your store. To facilitate such approval interfaces your customers are used to, punchout catalogs can help.

Punchout catalogs allow users to view your catalog or B2B store, select items, and punch out to an eProcurement system. Once the approvals are done, the order flows back into your eCommerce store. Lance detailed a BigCommerce feature built for such scenarios.

“As a platform that realizes such B2B customers’ pain points, we have built-in provisions that address purchase approvals”, he said. “BigCommerce partners with TradeCentric. The system facilitates seamless communication between BigCommerce and eProcurement solutions. They pump your products to Coupa or Ariba. They provide a window to punch out, and all your purchase order approval workflow can sit there easily”, he added.

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Here’s a gist of the workflow he explained (Example Walkthrough):

  1. B2B buyer logs into an eProcurement instance.

  2. Selects and views a distributor’s store.

  3. Buyer is shown the distributor’s BigCommerce storefront.

  4. They add items to the cart.

  5. Then, instead of checking out, buyers punch out and go to the eProcurement system. They complete the purchase there, and the order data flows back into BigCommerce. The approval process happens in the eProcurement system.

He concluded by mentioning that BigCommerce has many merchants facilitating punch-out systems for their buyers to manage their approval workflows easily and clutter-free.

Check out ‘PART 2’ of this two-part article series.