Using new features to extract the most from your e-commerce platform
b2b.store CEO Rob Mannion explains how increased functionality on wholesaler’s e-commerce platform can up their game
E-commerce has completely revolutionised the retail landscape over the past 15 years and, while the B2B market has been slower to change, it has become an increasingly important player as technology advances have removed the price barrier to entry.
But while uptake accelerated markedly during the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the platforms currently being used by the sector don’t offer the full functionality enjoyed by B2C businesses, meaning the sector is yet to truly realise the full benefits e-commerce has to offer.
Many readers will have experienced e-commerce marketing through their interactions with consumer companies; be it customer emails, targeted adverts, live chat features or pop-up offers when you leave a website, these tactics can also be deployed in the wholesale environment.
One of the most powerful features is targeted adverts. These are a great way for wholesalers to present customers with adverts that reflect their particular ordering history, buying patterns and interests. They can be a useful way to cut through the noise of generic digital adverts, serving personalised content that customers are more likely to see and engage with, and are used primarily to establish or increase brand awareness.
Targeted adverts can also be used as part of retargeting campaigns, reminding customers of products they have already shown an interest in and creating multiple ‘touch points’ to tip customers into buying mode.
Another increasingly popular tactic is automated marketing based on customer behaviour. This is of particular benefit to time-poor wholesalers as, once created, the campaign effectively runs itself; from message selection to delivery, campaign reporting and next-phase decision making.
Marketing automation uses software to automate time-intensive tasks and provide a more personalised experience for customers. For example, a classic example of automated marketing is when you receive an email from a company reminding you about abandoned baskets. This tailored communication can provide a link back to the basket in question (removing the need to log back in and re-select the items), making it easier to complete the transaction. Where customers still don’t complete the sale, email tracking software can flag whether or not the email has been read, automatically generating a personalised offer designed to push the sale over the line once they have.
Every element of this process can be automated, with marketing actions adapting to match the customer’s behaviour and creating a multi-touch sales experience that would be otherwise too time- and labour-intensive to pursue for individual customers.
The real joy of e-commerce is that it’s also incredibly responsive. Rather than investing vast swathes of money in multi-channel advertising campaigns with little idea of what has worked and what has not, e-commerce campaigns can be A:B tested in real time, allowing you to quickly identify what is working, edit campaigns mid-run, cancel those that are not delivering a return on investment and refocus resources on those that are. This process can be manually controlled or automated to suit, it all depends how individual wholesalers decide to best invest their resources.
In short, there are now a vast array of tools available to automate or guide wholesalers through the process. With subscription models becoming increasingly popular, wholesalers of all sizes are now free to test which tactics work best for them without committing to long-term contracts.