• How to Get B2B Mobile Commerce UX Right

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    The new generation of B2B customers also happens to be the new generation of B2C buyers.

    Since the B2C experience is superior, it is pushing businesses to improve their B2B side as well. With B2B customers on the move, it is imperative for businesses to improve their mobile customer experience.

    The current marketplace shows that more and more B2B transactions are happening through mobile devices, thus providing an amazing opportunity for growth in the B2B mobile commerce space.

    50% of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones. The figure is expected to grow to 70% by 2020. Google Statistics

    Customers research when they plan to purchase something. A slow, complex, and a tedious checkout process for a high volume transaction makes it even more frustrating. Today’s retailers and wholesalers have become tech-savvy, and they are shifting to a mobile-first strategy. To keep ahead of their competitors, they have started adopting the biggest and choicest benefits of on-the-go devices.

    Considering the statistics, you should consider trying to improve your B2B mobile commerce experience.

    Top reasons to improve B2B mobile commerce experience for consumers

    If you are not thinking about improving your B2B UX, you should. Your competitors are probably done with the redesign and already taking away your customers and profits. A user is more likely to make a purchase, visit again, and recommend you to others if you provide a user-centric experience and make their work easier than a competitor’s app. Below are some of the reasons to help you understand why it is time to improve your B2B mobile app’s UX.

    Retain B2B customers

    Why should a customer come back to your app if your competitor is offering a better user experience?

    “91% of users will leave a mobile app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs.”

    These days, almost every B2B e-commerce website has their own mobile app, and consumers have become tech-savvy. They have the option of installing all the apps and comparing them, to see which app provides a better UX, and they will drop all the others.

    If you hesitate, to improve your B2B app, you will lose your customers to your competitor.

    Acquire new B2B customers

    A good customer experience can get you positive word-of-mouth. If a consumer finds your app to be useful and better than other B2B apps, they are highly likely to recommend your app to others.

    89% of people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive brand experience on mobile. Google Statistics

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    People tend to take into account other people’s experiences and explore the recommended options. Offering a better user experience will bring new users to your app, which will boost your SEO and click counts. The chances of converting those new users into loyal customers will also increase.

    Enhance Customer Satisfaction

    Your business’ longevity depends on the satisfaction of your customers. Your business can only be as strong as your customer retention rates. If a customer finds your app easier to use in order to achieve their tasks, they will use it more often. Therefore, the more the customer is satisfied with your app, the higher the conversion rates, and the more sales you will see.

    Avoid Negative Reviews

    Negative reviews can take down your business and tarnish your image. People these days like to check reviews and ratings of businesses before dealing with them. If your mobile app UX leads to a negative experience, wherein a user faces glitches, it is highly probable that they will post negative reviews about your business. Frustrated customers know how to communicate their frustrations, and with the help of social media platforms, they will happily publicize your shortcomings to every potential customer out there.

    Treat B2B Consumers Like B2C Consumers

    With B2C experiences getting better and better, customers have started expecting their B2B experiences to match that level of ease and flexibility. A B2B customer is someone who has had a great B2C experience and will visit your B2B mobile app with the same or higher expectations since they might be planning to do long-term business with you and not just make occasional purchases. However, to ensure that your customer becomes long-term, your mobile app UX should be clutter-free and guide customers to fulfill their needs in a simple way.

    Increase Your App’s Stickiness

    If your B2B app welcomes customers with a user-friendly UX that helps them get things done quickly and easily, they are more likely to enjoy the experience, and they will “stick” with your app. If they stay longer, they are more likely to explore your products, offers, and deals. Staying longer and exploring a high number of options, can lead to a customer purchasing more than they intended to initially.

    If the purchase process is fast, simple and takes only a few steps, there are more chances of generating more sales and increasing traffic and activity on your app.

    Challenges faced by B2B consumers

    As a B2B seller, it is important for you to know the challenges faced by your customers. If you can overcome these challenges, you can turn potential customers into long-term customers. Below are some of the difficulties faced:

    1. Bad search experience: One of the biggest challenges faced by people is not being able to find the information they need.

      When people have a negative brand experience on mobile, they are over 60% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future than if they have a positive experience. Google Statistics

      A B2B app that has catalogs containing hundreds and thousands of products, should enable a customer to find what they want in a simple way, otherwise they will go somewhere else.

      Your app’s search functionality should be well optimized to be able to convert browsers into customers. Your customers should be able to use the search box and product pages easily, so that they can make a purchase decision.

    2. Complex Navigation: If you are using your organization’s vernacular for describing your products online, then there is a great chance that you are confusing your customers and might even be turning them away. Also, from the hundreds of thousands of products, a customer should be able to narrow a product assortment by key attributes. They don’t have the patience to go through a listing of thousands of products. Make it easier for your users to compare and choose products as per their needs.
    3. Lack of payment options: When a customer proceeds to make a purchase and finds that the available payment optionsdo not support their choice of transaction, it results in a frustrating experience for the customer and a lost sale for you. These days both B2B and B2C platforms offer a large number of payment options, it is essential that your app supports as many payment methods as possible. As soon as a customer finds a lacking point during a purchase, it leaves an impression that you are not at top of your game.

    Taking proactive measures to solve such pain points for customers saves them time, money and hassle, and in return they become your loyal customers, thus building your B2B company’s online credibility.

    B2B mobile commerce trends

    Now we will look at some of the hot B2B mobile commerce trends:

    1. Artificial intelligence: The conversational commerce trends are expanding to B2B commerce, and it is not just about chatbots. AI is used as a part of the B2B sales strategy for predicting sales, optimizing prices, and calculating discounts based on similar customer profiles.
    2. Configure price quote (CPQ) tools: CPQ tools are being widely used by B2B businesses because of the special algorithm that adjusts product prices based on sales volumes, order history, etc. This, in return, helps businesses in configuring prices that are transparent and as per the unique needs of their customers.
    3. B2C-like experience: Customers come to a B2B app with the expectation of a similar experience provided by B2C apps. They expect instant and top-quality service. B2B mobile commerce has started providing a similar smooth user experience for their customers.
    4. Synchronized order management: B2B companies are using modern cloud-based solutions to integrate with order management systems, which allows the syncing of order processing across all the channels. This results in greater user experience. There are other features as well, such as Just-in-time (JIT) availability with customizable purchasing workflows, returns management, multi-warehouse management, and automatic replenishment.
    5. Landing page videos: One of the latest trends in B2B commerce is the inclusion of short explainer videos illustrating the most important functionality of your product. These videos help in increasing brand awareness and build a connection between a business and its potential customers. Introductory videos are added for potential customers, whereas in-depth videos are added for existing customers.
    6. Order status updates: This B2B trend has been borrowed from its counterpart, B2C. Good customer experience depends on various factors and one of them is being updated on the shipment and delivery timelines. It keeps a customer informed about their purchase, and influences their perception of you.
    7. Global reach: The world has shrunk because of the internet, making it easier for B2B sellers to reach out to international potential customers. They are offering products in the local currencies of the customers through preferred local payment methods, enabling the customer to have a smooth buying process. Expanding globally helps businesses grow more quickly, and more and more B2B businesses are following the track.
    8. Omnichannel approach: according to a report by Forrester,

    Omnichannel business-to-business (B2B) customers are more active, generate more incremental revenue and cost less to serve than single-channel customers.

    Steps to improve B2B mobile user engagement and experience

    Are you making it difficult for your customers to buy from you?

    B2B customers look for a seamless buying experience, and enhancing your UX with user-centric features helps achieve that.

    As a B2B seller, you need to think like a customer. What are the features that you like when you shop? What makes it easier for you to find what you need? Do any features allow you to place orders effortlessly? Are there any apps that do most of your work for you?

    The answers to these questions are the inspiration you are looking for. What you expect as a customer is what you give your customers.

    Your B2B customers expect the same kind of intuitive, cross-channel, cross-device and personalized experience when they come to your app. In fact, they might be looking for an even better experience to help them with placing high-volume, complex orders worth a lot of money.

    Following are some features that can help you update your B2B app and attract more customers.

    Decrease the Loading Time

    Loading speed of your app is critical to your business. The more time it takes to load, the higher the chances of customers leaving the app.

    Download speed is a priority for providing a better B2B mobile commerce experience.

    Enhance Usability

    Your app’s usability should empower customers to perform self-service actions, order products, arrange shipping, and check out their orders, without many distractions or complications. Business integrations are useful in enabling automatic shipping choices, and confirming details of inventory availability, colors, sizes, and many other product features that customers may customize. Many customers find layering of product information an appealing feature as well.

    Easy Search

    A B2B app normally offers expansive product catalogs, which makes robust search capabilities an essential feature. Customers should be allowed to go beyond the basic SKU-based searches, and search products based on price, availability, etc.

    Develop a Well Thought out Navigation

    Poor navigation will definitely cost you, customers. Here are some ways to build better navigation:

    • Card sort can help you analyze your visitors’ expectations in finding products or pages
    • Familiar words should be used; don’t leave your users guessing
    • The shopping cart should be placed in the top-right corner.
    • Navigation should be easy enough to tap on a mobile device (not too small for fingertips)
    • Use breadcrumbs —your customers should not feel stranded on a page with no way to get back
    • Navigation should be kept as consistent as possible from page to page

    Purchase History

    You should provide your customers access to their previous purchase information; it can help them place new orders quickly. You should also enable your customers to edit their orders: updating quantities, changing shipping addresses, etc.

    Personalization

    Personalization is an important tool for creating a loyal customer base. It can be done in the following ways:

    • Customized catalogs can be created based on top-searched and purchased items, and then the customers can be greeted with their preferred products upon logging into their account.
    • You can send personalized deals and offers to your customers to encourage them to keep buying from you.
    • Unified notifications can be created, such as emails, SMS, mobile notifications, etc., for sending personalized deals to the customers in real-time.

    High-resolution Images

    High-resolution images should be provided whenever possible. Also, the images should have several angles and show texture if required.

    The images should also mention exact measurements along with a detailed description of the product.

    Checkout

    40 different studies found that, on an average, close to 70% of shopping carts are abandoned by customers before purchase. One of the reasons for this can be a complex checkout process having a long or poorly designed checkout form. This issue can be resolved by including Google’s autocomplete to your app search functionality. It will significantly save customers time and makes it easier to complete a purchase.

    Payment

    Offer your customers as many payment options as possible to reduce abandoned carts rates, and increase the number of returning customers. Set up payment processes in your back-end accounting system, and integrate your B2B mobile app to your existing back-office processing and payment processes. Allow your customers to pay through e-payment gateways such as PayPal, Apple Pay, etc., to shorten the purchase process.

    Full-fledged Shipping Support

    If your shipping services and charges are not satisfactory, your customers are more likely to NOT complete the purchase process. Make the shipment cost effective and easy for your customers by offering integrated and automated shipping. A hassle-free shipping experience will gain you the customer’s trust and will convert them into loyal clients.

    B2B Brands that are Succeeding

    There are some B2B brands in the market that have set a benchmark by providing exceptional customer experience through their mobile apps. We will discuss two of the most popular ones.

    Alibaba

    The Alibaba.com app is a leading wholesale mobile marketplace for global trade, and a great example of how B2B brands can improve their mobile experience. The app allows customers to buy products from suppliers around the world.

    Customers can:

    • Browse millions of products across hundreds of categories
    • Directly communicate with suppliers through the messenger system
    • Shortlist recommendations based on their sourcing preferences
    • Send customized buying requests to suppliers
    • Receive key trade data and e-commerce information with Alibaba Insights, the B2B mobile hub for market intelligence
    • Follow, discover and get closer to their favorite suppliers with Supplier Feeds.
    • Follow consumer trends and news
    • Share product and supplier information on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

    The Alibaba.com app also offers ancillary trade services such as ‘Trade Assurance’, as well as logistics, and international payments services.

    Alibaba is setting a great example through its user-friendly and customer-centric experience.

    The very first page starts simplifying the entire buying purchase for the customer.

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    As soon as the customer selects the proper segment, the rest of the process is customized accordingly. The app then pre-plans the options the customer will need or the type of products they will be interested in.

    Based on their initial selection, the customer will be presented with a personalized homepage displaying products and supplies of their interest.

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    The app also recommends products based on browsing history and interests. The experience feels similar to what we experience on a B2C app, and that is where it succeeds because it provides a seamless experience on an app that is being used for work.

    But it does not copy all the B2C features; it gives a B2B feel to its UX by enabling its customers to request custom products, and by allowing them to negotiate the offers directly with the suppliers.

    The Alibaba app simplifies the entire complex process of finding products, receiving quotes from multiple sellers, etc., into a few simple steps.

    It allows customers to approve sellers’ offers for their requested customizations within the app itself. Customers can even save their purchase information and the transactions are encrypted.

    Grainger

    Grainger is another good example of a B2B app attracting a lot of customers because of its ease of use. Customers can use the app to quickly narrow down their search, check account pricing, check item availability at a nearby branch, or manage costs with the Grainger KeepStock® inventory management solution. KeepStock, integrated with the Grainger mobile app, is a powerful inventory management solution that allows easy reorder and workflow oversight.

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    Important features:

    • Real-time Availability — customers get an expected arrival date, and can also find out if their item is available at a nearby branch.
    • KeepStock – allows customers to manage, track and control, their inventory costs on an agile inventory management system.
    • Barcode Scanning — customers can simply scan a product and drop it into their cart.
    • Find a Branch — customers can locate their nearest branch for quick pickup.
    • Chat with an Expert — allows customers to get product support, share a photo of what they need, etc.
    • Pending Orders — customers can keep track of all the orders waiting for their approval.
    • Lists — customers can access lists on Grainger.com® for quick reordering.
    • Voice Search — customers can search products using voice search.
    • Order History — customers can check the status of a current order, or refer to previous orders from the last 18 months.
    • Guest checkout — customers can get orders without creating an account.

    Grainger is a very popular name in the B2B market and its app’s UX takes that reputation to a higher level.

    Quick Sign-in: The first user-friendly feature is the touch ID sign-in, which offers fingerprint access to a customer’s account.

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    This feature works for customers because they don’t have to remember long, complex passwords, and fill them out every time they access the app.

    Easy and Quick Search: To help customers find the right products. It uses their mobile’s GPS and searches for the specified products at the branches nearest to their location. The search functionality is fast and customers can search for products using the keyword search, voice search, or by scanning item numbers or bar-codes. Full points for the amazing search functionality.

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    Fast Order Tracking: The app allows for quick and easy tracking of the entire order flow, from obtaining approvals to tracking shipped orders, with push notifications.

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    Create Lists: customers can create product lists for saving, comparing products, or sharing products across their organization. Location-based lists can be used to manage products, and send across multiple facilities.

    ePro Mobile Solutions: The Grainger mobile app, can be used to submit requests that connect to customers’ systems and processes.

    Conclusion

    As more and more B2B transactions are being done on mobile devices, it is essential for B2B businesses to provide their customers with a mobile commerce experience that facilitates the entire shopping experience, from arrival to checkout. Mobile UX is not just about design; it’s about function. The success of your B2B mobile commerce app depends on its usability; it should provide a quick, easy and enjoyable way for your customers to maneuver your app, and make a purchase.

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    Abhay V

    About the Author

    Abhay Vohra has 15+ years of experience in the IT industry. Abhay started out with us a Quality Analyst and moved onto the Business Analysis team where he discovered his passion for information architecture, wireframes and user experience. He also has solid experience in Business Analysis and is now a day researching rapid prototyping methods. Abhay is bit of a “Culture Vulture” and takes a lot of interest in world cinema and literature.

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