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 Latoya Young | Oct 29, 2019 | Commerce Strategy, System Integrations, Web Development
Most Amazon Prime members make an online purchase once per week, and plaintiff lawyers are delivering ADA-compliance lawsuits even faster. The Supreme Court is showing no remorse for companies whose websites are not ADA-compliant. If you get served, your only option is to pay up. Here are 6 steps some of our clients have taken to successfully operate an ADA-compliant website and avoid costly damages.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All content and information available are for informational purposes only.
Step 1: Understand the Seriousness of ADA-Compliance
The American Disabilities Act requires all places of public accommodation to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. It’s no surprise that in the year 2019, the world wide web is now considered a place of public accommodation (See: Title III).
In 2016, Domino’s Pizza Inc. was hit with an ADA- compliance lawsuit that claimed the website doesn’t ensure the blind and visually impaired can order food through the website or mobile app. As of October 7, 2019, the Supreme Court is refusing to review Domino’s appeal on the basis that ADA is a strict liability law, meaning there are no excuses for non-compliance violations.
Plaintiff lawyers are working overtime to serve up lawsuits for non-compliant companies. No matter how many unique visitors your website attracts, if it’s inaccessible for web users with mental or physical disabilities, your business is a target for legal action
Reports reveal that there is one web-related ADA lawsuit every working hour. This means 8 a day, 40 a week, and more than 2,000 a year. In 2018, more than 7,500 ADA suits were arraigned in federal court. Now that you understand it’s not a question of if, but when you’ll be targeted, let’s dive into the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
“While plaintiff lawyers handing out ADA-compliant lawsuits may seem predatory it is necessary and an important part of our justice system. Our government alone would not have the resources to enforce important regulations. So, these lawsuits are here to stay. Companies must know that there are consequences for non-compliance. As a business stakeholder, we have the challenge of balancing compliance, cost, and customer experience.
— Adam Morris, CEO, Redstage.
Step 2: Review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
6.2 billion shoppers are expected to shop online this Cyber week alone, leaving eCommerce businesses vulnerable to potential lawsuits. To help you prepare, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explains how users with disabilities can access sites. While you’re in the process of strategically planning your holiday content, be sure to double-check all points of access to your store. You need to ensure your site is “perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.” For a full explanation of these terms, see the link to WCAG above.
Taking proper measures to get an ADA-compliant website will save companies time and money. This step is always forgotten, overlooked, and never budgeted for. Many helpful tools can let you know if your site passes ADA requirements and extensions that come with approved codes.
— Jignesh Joshi, Sr. Project Manager, Redstage
Step 3: Add Alternative Means of Access
Ensuring your content is ‘perceivable’ may not be the toughest task you’ll face on your ADA-compliance journey. In fact, it may even be the opposite. According to the WCAG, all images including charts and infographics must include alt-text. Since SEO and content marketing are already part of your eCommerce strategy, you’ve likely already added alt-text to all of your imagery. To make sure, take some time to go through your archive and add relevant alt-text wherever it’s missing. This process may be tedious, but site readers (software) must be able to successfully read and describe your images to the blind and visually impaired.
54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support. Naturally, videos have become a common practice for brands. All published video and audio files must also be accessible to those with disabilities. This can be achieved by including closed captions and text transcripts.
Closed captions should be accurate and in sync with video while text transcripts should accurately convey what’s in the video file. If you’re producing audio content like podcasts, you may want to pay close attention.
The WCAG updates are continuous and it can be easy to overlook minor details like fonts, for example. Make sure your fonts are clearly readable and properly displayed on a high contrast background. To play it safe, keep the standard light background and dark font. These minor changes can be a huge help for your users to easily navigate your site.
Step 4: Provide Easy Navigation for your Users
Luckily for our readers, we’ve been sharing tips on how to provide a fast and frictionless user experience for customers all year. If you’ve been following along, you should already be one step ahead, since user operation for ADA-compliance and frictionless experiences go hand-in-hand. When focusing on navigation, the first step is to ensure your website’s entire navigation can be fully operated via keyboard, without a mouse or touchscreen.
Users should have the ability to pause, slow down automatic movements, interact with images, and play videos through the keyboard. One tip is to stay away from auto-play to give your visitors enough time to read and process content.
Secondly, if your website doesn’t have a search function that can help your customers find products and information at ease, it’s required under the Web Accessibility Standards to have one.
Lastly, do not forget to include a site map. Remember, a positive user experience requires users to have the ability to operate your website that is understandable and feels natural. Again, you probably have one already because site maps improve your SEO.
Step 5: Website Features Should Be Understandable
When producing content, remember: all of your visitors must be able to read and understand it. Providing a default language function can not only keep you out of a lawsuit, but it can positively affect your conversion rate. We all know the uncomfortable feeling of standing in the middle of a conversation without understanding what is being discussed. To ensure your users and their reading assistance technology can properly function, refrain from the use of jargon, idioms, and abbreviations without properly introducing or explaining them.
Your website may already have the main functions that are considered predictable under the WCAG. Your users should be able to come to your website and predict what will happen as they interact. If you’re unsure, we have provided a brief checklist below.
- An X in the upper left- or right-hand corner for users to close the window.
- All Visible forms have instructions
- Navigation is consistent across all pages (Up, down, left, right,)
It may seem like a lot to fine-tune your website. Make sure you keep your developers in the loop as they’re coding and responsible for making sure your website is running smoothly. It takes a lot of work to get fully compliant. Once you’ve achieved compliance, you’ll want to keep it that way.
Step 6: Website Should Be Error-Free
While developers have a lot on their to-do list, the main priority is to make sure your website is robust enough to be considered ADA-compliant. This step may take the most time, but it can save you more than $50,000. Without getting into too much coding jargon, the overall presentation must be error-free and coded with standard HTML tags. We touched on some of these points earlier in the article, so here’s a quick checklist to review with your developers.
- Clear Descriptive Text
- Nested Headings
- Clear Forms
- Uniform Labels
- Section Labels
- Clean Code
Keep in mind that the work you do to make your site accessible benefits ALL users, not just those who may have disabilities. You will see the positive results of providing an accessible, easy-to-use site almost immediately.
—Kevin Rydberg, Managing Accessibility Consultant, Siteimprove
Remember, reaching ADA-compliance is a process with many steps to complete. With an estimated 30% increase in lawsuits this year, there’s no time to waste. Remember, the information provided in this blog does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Our trusted partners at Siteimprove can help you pinpoint accessibility issues that can potentially put your site at risk of an ADA-compliance lawsuit. Consider them your first step to protection before lawyering up. They can get you involved in a program that will help shield you from those who would target your online store. Do not hesitate to get a powerful, free website report and request a Demo here.
If you’re looking for a more robust, comprehensive solution to cover all holiday risks (including security, bug monitoring, and ADA-compliance, check out Redstage’s new security and maintenance bundle here. Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions! We’re always happy to help.