Unlocking B2B Commerce: Part 3 – How Content Can Play a Bigger Role in B2B

This article is part of a series brought to you in collaboration with our partner, Amplience, an API-first, headless content management platform for enterprise retail. Their content and experience solutions for headless commerce enable teams to do more, better, faster. To learn more, visit amplience.com.

With B2B businesses typically being more traditional in their approach to harnessing digital technology, their content offering has been limited. The emphasis within digital and eCommerce has instead been on product and the overall catalog count, with most B2B businesses looking to build out and optimize their product data and search experiences more so than looking to leverage content across the customer journey.

In part 1 of our blog series with partner Ultra Commerce, we looked at how B2B sales have evolved, including the merging of B2B and B2C when it comes to purchasing behavior, and then in part 2, we explored what B2B businesses need to think about when looking to transform their experiences online. Now, we’re going a step further, investigating how content can play a much bigger role in the B2B commerce experience.

B2B content is not the future, it’s the now

As mentioned in part 1 of the series, the expectations and behaviors of B2B buyers are changing. They are more digitally savvy and want to be met with the same digital experiences for B2B purchases as they would B2C ones. Good B2C experiences already encompass a vast array of content across the buyer’s journey, and across multiple channels. It’s educational, inspirational, and practical, it’s relevant and contextual to the buyer, and it’s delivered at the right time in the purchase cycle. This is where B2B businesses need to be.

The B2B purchase journey, just like the modern-day B2C journey, is not linear. For B2B, complexities arrive in different ways, with multiple decision-makers, a lot of different products, and likely higher order values. But the current availability of quality information digitally makes it harder for B2B businesses to influence purchase decisions. There are more cracks along the digital B2B sales cycle that can make prospective customers go elsewhere or turn off long-standing customers.

Harness your knowledge

So many B2B businesses have argued that the rise of digital commerce will see the demise of sales roles and in-person sales opportunities. But actually, they can complement each other nicely too. One way in which to do this is to look to leverage the abundance of knowledge and expertise businesses already have internally. And it’s not just salespeople, other areas of the businesses such as marketing will all have knowledge, for example around product-customer fit, that can be implemented throughout the eCommerce journey. It’s just a different channel or outlet in which to transfer it to.

B2B content in reality

So, what does B2B content actually look like in practice? Well, here are a few areas of the customer journey where it can be easily supported, and where it can make a big difference in the customer experience.

  • Product discovery. Previously very much limited to practical information on product listing pages (PLP), B2B businesses can look to B2C in how they can incorporate a lot more content and information within these pages. Product listing pages can really showcase not just the product itself but the knowledge the business has surrounding it with supporting content. Areas where B2B businesses could start would be to look at adding and elevating key features and product specs, to add videos, tutorials, or perhaps measuring guides for larger items. And, to create urgency, badges or contextual messaging could be added, for example, “high sell through for your region” or “only 100 cases left”.
  • Supporting content. B2B can look to build out supporting content pages that can be easily woven into the customer’s journey to help guide and educate throughout the purchase process. This can be anything from PDFs to videos.

But perhaps also, it’s time to think beyond simple product resources too and create and incorporate, for example, resources that link to a category or broad selection of products across the catalog, helping to further showcase the business’s product range to the buyer. For B2B retailers, this could be categories of curated collections, whereby the products are typically purchased and sold together. Whereas, for manufacturers, this may be more like a category or set of recommended parts that are made specifically for a piece of machinery, or a complementary set of products that could be upsold or bundled.

  • Account specific content and promotions. With the right digital commerce technology, B2B businesses have the ability to really personalize the experience for the buyer. They can create and deliver content that is specific to certain accounts, based on previous purchases for example, and also tailored campaigns and promotions that will help entice buyers even more. With added personalization and contextualization, buyers are more likely to feel valued and more likely to engage with the content given its relevance. A win on all accounts.

However, this type of targeting isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to implement as it requires heavy coordination of an ERP and PIM. But being able to deliver targeted messages to your buyers can deliver significant increases in AOV and purchase behavior. In a practical sense, these messages may look something like “other retailers in your area are purchasing this at a high sell-through rate” or “top seller for your region”.

B2B content in actuality

To see how some of this can be put into practice, we’ve turned to Lightspeed, a leader in providing classroom audio solutions to learning environments around the globe.

The challenge Lightspeed faces is that they are selling complex instructional audio and video systems for learning and need to explain to the consumer how it works in a visual way and describe the benefits and accessibility they will bring to the classroom.

Of course, like any technical product that involves “systems”, the challenge is to describe the whole unit while helping the end user to understand how they will have to set it up, use it and become comfortable in front of a room of students.

The copy and content need to do two things:

  1. Sell the overall concept of the product line.
  2. Describe each of the individual products and systems including exact features, benefits, specifications, accessories and support.

And in trying to achieve the above two things, Lightspeed is also faced with deciding how users are going to locate and find the resources they need. Will it be pre-sale, looking to answer questions like “What’s available and how can I train my team?” or will it be post sale, whereby a customer has already purchased the item but now needs to know how to use it, and how they can troubleshoot or access helpful tutorials if they need them.

With each product requiring both shared and unique product content, the team has a fixed list of product data types that can be uploaded or linked to each product page.

The outcome for Lightspeed is being able to create customized content and resources that can be assigned to products combining rich product details and a searchable support and training center. They’re also able to create and upload resources but use them in more than one place on the site.

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