by Latoya Young | Feb 12, 2020 | System Integrations, Web Development
In 2020, customers became bolder with their demands and expectations. You may have learned how to satisfy them with evergreen content, site optimization, and fraud protection. However, as 2021 picks up, merchants need to stay one step ahead of the competition by studying trends and going beyond customer expectations. Through convenience, conscious consumerism, and flexibility, these 3 eCommerce technologies help B2B companies boost sales and improve shopping experiences.
1. Conversational Search in the Rise of Convenience
Conversational Search is designed to mirror spoken search requests rather than keywords. Siri and Alexa changed the way shoppers navigate the Internet and retailers are finding new ways to implement “Conversational Search” in their SEO strategy. Thanks to technologies like Klevu, customers can interact with a search engine and find answers using their normal, natural language. Activating Conversational Search on your site gives customers easy, on-demand, and frictionless access to the information and products they want.
Conversational Search for B2B
Automated email blasts and informal sales outreach alone, no longer close B2B deals. 30% of web browsing sessions will be conducted without a phone screen this year. Ensuring your online store is ready to provide a simple experience through search is key. To reach your customers, you must:
1. Research: Optimizing search requires getting to know your potential customers. Research and learn the questions they’re asking, challenges they’re facing, their priorities, goals, favorite products, and the phrases they’re using to search for products you provide.
2. Optimize: Once you know your customers’ burning questions, conduct a full search audit, and optimize your site. Remember, 90% of executives research using their mobile devices before making a purchase decision. You can better serve your customers when your site feels conversational and your voice search feature is user-friendly on all devices.
3. Create Content: Voice-search optimization requires your content to reflect your buyers’ needs. It should be easy for your customers to navigate your site search through natural conversation. Include “ask keywords” in your voice search strategy that answers your buyers’ questions. Some examples include, “how can I strengthen my eCommerce strategy? ” or “what are the product benefits?”
2. Loyalty’s Place in the Rise of Conscious Consumerism
In 2020, “Conscious Consumerism” became mainstream. Now 65% of global consumers make belief-driven purchases. In addition, 66% of shoppers choose to stay loyal to brands that share their values.
Implementing platforms like Loyalty Lion will allow merchants to create unique loyalty programs. This will make it easier for customers to practice “Conscious Consumerism” while building authentic relationships between you and your customers.
Loyalty programs employed by companies like Stay Wildish are built upon members completing monthly challenges in exchange for points. Shoppers can then donate their points to non-profit organizations. This keeps customers returning to engage with the program as they earn social rewards they value.
Customers who are aligned with your mission are more willing to act as advocates and share brands with others who have similar values. By appealing to what your customers want, you’ll secure their loyalty long-term and increase their lifetime value.
Loyalty for B2B
To encourage your existing customers to return, implement a loyalty program in your B2B strategy that can help you acquire like-minded customers who will convert faster and stay loyal longer. According to B2B Marketing Academy, loyal customers are five times more likely to make a purchase and forgive mistakes. They’re also seven times easier to upsell if you include:
1. Personalization: One loyal customer equals a steady source of income. While B2B companies offer a smaller pool of customers than B2C, it’s critical to add a more personalized touch. Your customers are online, meet them there. Personalize their emails, and provide multiple ways to communicate messages to them such as text alerts. Personalization efforts can drive a six-fold increase in sales!
2. VIP Rewards: Customers love specialized perks. Don’t waste a good email without offering your customers exclusives like reward points, product sampling, and early access to promotions. Keep your customers’ goals in mind by figuring out how your reward points can directly impact their lives and be useful beyond your company’s objectives.
3. New Expectations Demand Shipping Flexibility
Customers want options, and they want them on their terms. Fast shipping, however, is no longer an option but an expectation. Retailers need to start looking at innovative and alternative shipping services and tools like ShipperHQ to meet these new expectations and create new and better experiences for customers.
BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) is a relatively new buying option that continues to rise in popularity. Like B2Cs, B2B companies are implementing this strategy to change how they interact with their customers. Just think about it, if your customer needs a machine part or tool that day, BOPIS allows them to buy it through your website in minutes and pick it up at a nearby store, reducing their project timeline. This also helps with items that have shipping restrictions and can take a long time to arrive where the customer needs them.
Additionally, 75% of BOPIS users make unplanned purchases while they’re in your store, according to Agilence. If Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon can offer BOPIS options, it’s time more manufacturers and distributors take advantage of this powerful technology.
Other buying options include above-and-beyond services like same-day, white-glove, or in-home delivery. The construction, wholesale and distribution, and automotive industries can benefit greatly from it. For example, construction employees are often sent out to pick up orders. Same day delivery can save project managers time and money. These implementations will keep merchants ahead of their competition and improve customer experiences.
Shipping Flexibility and B2B
B2B customer demographics are shifting. Millennials are becoming decision-makers and they’re expecting miracles. More than next day delivery options are driving sales, they’re relying on innovation and technological advantages to make their lives as buyers easier. Shipping is one of the buyer’s final touchpoints and B2B companies can improve these experiences through:
1. Price Transparency: B2B customers expect online stores to reveal shipping costs before purchasing. Consider options that are fast and can cut down shipping costs.
2. Flexible Returns: The ability to provide flexible and easy return options will make or break your reputation. To keep your customers’ trust, provide a clear and easy return policy on your website and include return labels with shipments.
3. Efficient Distribution Strategies: B2B eCommerce sales in the U.S are expected to exceed $1.18 trillion by 2021. Success in the marketplace comes from adapting to customer demands but also being aware of rising threats. Adding more distribution centers and new technologies that can improve tracking of shipments, real-time traceability, and threat detection such as environment monitoring can help streamline logistics.
Your recipe for success in 2021 is to take today’s latest technical capabilities and implement them, while also looking ahead to future trends. Effectively engaging customers at the beginning of their shopping journey, encouraging repeat purchases through advanced search, loyalty programs, and shipping convenience should be at the forefront of B2B executive’s minds.
Olam International, a multi-national agriculture distribution powerhouse, has already implemented new shipping solution ShipperHQ along with advanced search by Amasty and Customer Approval extensions from MagePlaza with Redstage’s help. Utilizing Magento 2’s out-of-the-box B2B feature set, we helped Olam digitize operations for multiple multinational stores; OlamSpices.com
, and OlamEdibleNuts.com
. The latter of these being the first and only online portal for edible nut distribution in the world. B2B companies that not only keep up with trends but stay ahead of them will remain one step ahead of their competitors as well.
To find out how you can integrate these technologies and more into your 2021 eCommerce strategy, book your free consultation
with Redstage today. And if you’re thinking about upgrading to Magento 2 but are strapped for time, learn more about our 40-day B2B accelerator here.
by Don Pingaro | Feb 16, 2018 | eCommerce Platforms, System Integrations, UX/UI Design
The Rise of the Smart Speaker
We’ve breached another new frontier in marketing. Thanks to the widespread adoption of IoT like Amazon’s Alexa and other smart speakers, a new channel has emerged and is rapidly picking up speed in the world of eCommerce: Voice-Commerce (vCommerce). Here’s a quick guide with all the stats and tactics marketers need to know to get a grip on the new technology, fast.
Forerunners & Followers
As more voice-enabled devices like Google Home, Echo Dots, and Apple’s recently released HomePod continue to pervade households, the rate of voice based purchases is skyrocketing. Forrester projects that by the end of 2018, 26.2 million U.S. homes will have smart speakers, spelling fortunes for online retailers.
What’s more, a report published by Juniper Research estimates that smart speakers will reach more than 55% of U.S. homes by 2022. With his residence completely integrated with Google Home, Redstage CEO Adam Morris says he’s “constantly witnessing improvements in voice capabilities from new commands to more accurate responses.” Considering the growing adoption rate and skill set of voice assistants, Morris says, “I believe voice is ready for eCommerce.”
Now that we can see the adoption curve, let’s dive into the implications from a search perspective.
The Heart of vCommerce
At the heart of the vCommerce movement lies our common frenemy, Google. Not only is Google now making all types of smart speakers to compete with Amazon, they’ve naturally gained dominance in the vCommerce search market. Remember, voice search did not exist before 2016.
To get an idea of how quickly the tech is taking over, heres some info from Kissmetrics: “Within 2016 alone, voice-based search went from zero to 10% of all search volume. Today, 20% of all searches have voice-based intent, and by 2020, ComScore estimates that half of all searches will be done by voice.”
“Today, 20% of all searches have voice-based intent, and by 2020, ComScore estimates that half of all searches will be done by voice.” –Kissmetrics
Say it again in your head… HALF of all searches… that’s real estate you can’t afford to miss out on. The fun game for the years ahead will be keyword planning for customer voice searches… but we’ll get back to that later on.
Here’s another one from Forbes: “Voice assistants are already being used to make purchases by 40% of millennials, with that number expected to exceed 50% by 2020.” So now you’re thinking, okay, great, more Adwords campaigns right? But wait! There’s more you can do to prep for this torrent of voice shopping.
Getting Your Share of Voice
Unapologetic marketing puns aside, here’s how to prep for vCommerce.
Step 1: Behavioral Analysis
Get your strategy team together and dive deep into your customer behavior segments. Which of your products are getting the most search traffic? What are your top sellers? What are the top products customers search for within your site?
Step 2: Search Out Loud
Think about what products you’ve personally searched for recently and how you found them. Brainstorm which of these products you’d order on a whim from your bedroom, your kitchen, your laundry room, or your entertainment center. Think about things you might search for while out at the store to compare prices, and things you could order from your desk at the office. More importantly, think about a product you need, like a refill on paper towels, and ask for it out loud. It’s likely that the way you ask for something aloud is different from how you search for it online. Saying “Alexa, order me more [Brand name] paper towels” is a bit different from typing “[Brand name] paper towels” in Google. Use this to your advantage.
Step 3: SEO Linguistics
Once you’ve tackled mobile-first SEO, start to rethink SEO in terms of natural language. Grab your smartphone or your favorite smart speaker and run some voice searches. What are the top results? Which of your competitors are showing up? What meta descriptions and keywords are they using? What phrases are their Google ads populating for? Think long-tail, because every customer is going to be asking for things a little differently.
If you’re new to this, “Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase or when they’re using voice search. They’re a little bit counter-intuitive, at first, but they can be hugely valuable if you know how to use them.” (Wordstream) Retool your content for natural language and start ranking for voice searches as well as regular (manual-typing) searches. With this in mind, remember that voice searches are the ultimate gateway to impulse purchases. Take advantage of this, make some tweaks and test, test, test!
“‘The websites that will win…are incorporating (voice) search strategies for typers and talkers, alike,’ says Michael Peggs, Founder and Chief Content Creator of Marccx Media.”
Step 4: Get Local, Get Vocal, and Get on Amazon
According to Search Engine Watch, “Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text.” This means, it’s time to boost your local search magnet. If you’re not using Amazon as a channel to sell more products, now’s the time to start, as Alexa is programmed to suggest products from Amazon automatically. Don’t miss the chance to have your product recommended by a customer’s favortite digital assistant.
Additionally, consider reminding your customers that they can find you via voice search! This simple announcement can make a better CX for anyone who’s not yet accustomed to using voice search. More importantly, if you have Alexa Skills for your store, you’ll definitely want to tell the world. Send your customers an email telling them how they can order their next product just by saying a phrase. The’re not likely to forget it. Don’t have an Alexa Skill for your store? Read on:
Step 5: Get The Alexa Skills Kit Get the Alexa Skills Kit and start creating voice-enabled Alexa skills. According to PracticalCommerce, the kit is “a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it easier to create voice-driven capabilities for Alexa.” Not only will this allow your customers to make purchases simpler, but more importantly, as an accelerating number of retailers invest in the trend, more customers grow accustomed to using this pervasive technology.
To recap, 2020 is shaping up to be a critical year for vCommerce. The projections scream 50% across the board. By then, roughly 50% of U.S. households will have smart speakers. 50% of all searches will have voice-based intent. More than 50% of millennials will shop via voice.
While voice as a channel begins to enter the main stream, Morris notes that eCommmerce traditionally lags behind the latest trends and technological innovations. “We [at Redstage] talked about mobile becoming the next big change in eCommerce 5 years ago. The industry collectively lagged far enough behind that now mobile traffic has overtaken desktop and today many still aren’t properly leveraging it. Mobile conversion rates are still roughly one-third of desktop rates, another sign that companies across the board haven’t realized mobile’s full potential. I have a feeling voice will follow the same pattern, though hopefully at a slightly quicker pace with what we know now. We’re witnessing and projecting massive adoption, so we’ve got a few years before the industry becomes accustomed to using voice competitively. However, voiceCommerce is an inevitability, and we should start preparing now just as we had to prepare for mobile.”
Now if you’re now thinking, “vCommerce is still on its way to maturity, so I have some time right?” Consider this tidbit from DigitalCommerce360, “A recent survey by SAP Hybris found that 38 percent of U.S. consumers would consider using digital assistants for their holiday shopping this year, a significant increase over the 17 percent who reportedly used voice devices for holiday shopping [in 2017].” If you’re looking for an edge this holiday season, this could be it.
Further Reading on Marketing in 2020
If you liked this article, you’ll also want to read, How All B2C Companies Should Be Marketing By 2020 for more disruptive insights.