B2B companies need to raise their mobile game. Improving the mobile e-commerce experience is the place to start.
Technology has gone consumer. From heavy-duty enterprise applications to the handhelds used by field engineers, everything in tech now mimics the look, feel and convenience of the most popular mass-market applications and devices.
It’s not the future anymore, it’s the now. And B2B companies need to get on board.
Because business buyers are increasingly using smart phones first for the products, services, and customer support they need.
From query to quote, and on to completed purchase, a finely-tuned B2B mobile strategy is essential to staying in-step with their evolving expectations.
B2B’s rapid embrace of mobile
B2B e-commerce sales have started to spike. Forrester estimates that by 2021, B2B eCommerce will reach $1.2 trillion and account for 13.1% of all B2B sales in the US alone.
Blame the Millennials if you must. The original digital-native/mobile-first generation has moved into corporate purchasing roles and they expect the same user experience from B2B technology that they get from B2C.
Their purchasing habits are also different. Post GenX-ers are highly focused on practicality and getting things done. Making phone calls to place orders or obtain a quote isn’t how they operate.
It’s not that personal relationships aren’t important to them, it’s that the methods and modern customs of commercial interaction have been changed forever by gaming, social media, and SMS.
Winning the business of people who have grown up with those technologies — and keeping that business – means respecting their habits and preferences.
How to improve B2B mobile strategy
As we’ve written previously, B2B e-commerce is all about recurring customers, and mobile is the best tool to uplift recurring purchase and sustain relationships.
That makes a comprehensive B2B mobile strategy, built on research and focused on meeting end-user expectations, absolutely essential for future growth.
With over 50 percent of B2B product searches happening on smartphones, charting a clear course for mobile execution and understanding the current trends in B2B for mobile, lays the groundwork for a strategy that could deliver competitive advantage.
Here’s how you can start:
1. Know your buyers
First-off you need to ask the right questions about B2B customers in order to understand their e-commerce habits and preferences.
- Which of your products and services do buyers frequently use mobile devices to search and purchase? Dive into Google Analytics to find the answers.
- How do they use their devices to connect? For example, how many mobile sessions are hit & run visits for quick information, how many sessions involve a more in-depth experience?
- What are their pain points? By using intent monitoring you can track user sessions and better understand the business issues they want your product or service to solve– then you can create targeted campaigns to engage them.
2. Woo them in the language of mobile
B2B email campaigns still tend to be created for consumption on a desktop or a laptop computer. But more and more emails are being read on mobile devices first.
In its year-long survey involving 27 billion emails, Return Path discovered that more than half— 55 percent — were opened on mobile devices. This was an increase of 29 percent over a similar study in 2012. Only 16 percent were opened on desktop platforms.
If your mobile strategy doesn’t yet include optimizing your email marketing, it’s time to ensure that all campaigns are mobile-friendly. Many email marketing platforms now have preview features that help create the best experience on a wide variety of devices and platforms.
3. For ecommerce on mobile browsers, use mobile responsive design
If making a purchase on your mobile website requires constant zooming, pinching, and swiping, that lack of responsiveness is likely driving away potential customers.
Google says 61 percent of users won’t go back to a mobile site if they have trouble accessing it, and forty percent will visit a competitor’s site instead.
In other words: having a mobile optimized webstore is a must if you don’t want to lose customers to your competitors.
4. Give them a B2B mobile app
But having a mobile optimized website simply isn’t enough when you want to have a competitive B2B mobile strategy.
They need an app too. B2B buyers are often on the road, in a busy office environment, or between meetings. They aren’t shopping for fun, and if they like a product they want the process of replenishing orders to be simple and fast.
As research from e-commerce experts Criteo Research has shown ‘Retailers Businesses must also ‘…prioritize and optimize shopping apps, or risk leaving money and revenue opportunities on the table, as mobile transactions are no longer confined to mobile websites alone only.’
Putting an intuitive e-commerce app in their hands can push a B2B brand to the forefront of their attention.
With features like in-store barcode scanners, saved purchase info, push notifications when an item is back in stock, post-payments and other time-savers, apps make life easier for B2B buyers.
“Worth noting: the ROI for B2B apps tends to be realized faster than with B2C apps, as B2B has a higher average order value.”
5. Simplify forms
Optimizing data capture for B2B customers is critical for mobile lead generation. Beyond simply working in a mobile environment, B2B marketers need to be cognizant of how user-friendly their mobile forms are.
Think carefully about the number of fields that require input, and try to minimize the mount of tap-tapping required on a phone or tablet. Think about the type of lead gen assets you’re offering, and how auto-fill might simplify field requirements on a mobile browser.
6. Integrate your app and webshop with back-office systems
All customers, whether visiting you on mobile website or app, should have clarity on stock levels, and find it easy to place repeat orders. That’s why all your e-commerce front-ends should be connected to core e-commerce IT systems like CRM and ERP.
Syncing information like orders, customer info, pricing, and inventory between systems will reduce the possibility for errors, improve scalability, and minimize how much manual data entry buyers need to do.
Integration with back-office systems means that any action the customer takes will be reflected on their profile, regardless of which way they connect with you. For example seeing the Wishlist they’ve created on their smartphone show up on their desktop as well.
7. Make it social
Finally don’t forget more direct tie-ins to popular social media platforms and the information assets that can help drive sales. IDC says that 75 percent of B2B buyers study social media before making purchase decisions.
Social media plays a more prominent role in mobile. B2B Marketers need to ensure there is an opportunity for customers and site visitors to use social media sharing and weave more social platform activity into mobile experience.
That can be as simple as adding share-buttons for key content assets, to formalized commercial initiatives like PPC campaigns, or app tie-ins with LinkedIn and Facebook.
It’s time to act
Consumerized technology is now the norm, pushed forward by a millennial & mobile workforce, who grew up with digital and don’t draw a line between professional and personal technology.
Gartner describes it as an unstoppable force: one businesses can either embrace – or ignore at their peril.
As it pushes more B2B sales to mobile, businesses need to refine their B2B mobile strategy. JMango360 would love to help.
Thinking about a best-in-class B2B ecommerce mobile app that works on iOS and Android devices? We’ve developed more than 1,000 mobile ecommerce apps and websites, while helping clients create marketing strategies that boost mobile sales.