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B2B decision-makers these days strive for a fail-safe approach to tackle rising customer churn and the competition from marketplaces: They opt for a highly personalized, omnichannel digital strategy that all caters towards one goal: Making B2B purchasing as convenient as possible. Do you need AI to do that? Not necessarily, but your business will surely pop off at many points when you do. Let me take you through the possibilities in this article.

 

In this article, you'll learn:

Why is B2B personalization important?

Achieve a faster ROI with AI in B2B commerce

Speed up the ROI of B2B personalization by three months with AI

You can increase buying convenience with AI in B2B commerce

You can strengthen the customer relationship with AI in B2B commerce

Summary: How can you use AI in B2B personalization, and why should you do it?

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Why is B2B personalization important?

You may think that in B2B, where you have multiple people in a buying center to make decisions, personalization is off the charts. Well, not necessarily. You know a lot about your customers, their regular purchases, the machines they use and need consumables for, etc. So, personalization makes 100% sense, it just looks a bit different in B2B.

It is notable that “B2B buyers have always enjoyed the personal touch. Before the internet, most buying was done face-to-face through visits to the warehouse or showroom. Buyers and sales reps built up close relationships. A key part of the sales rep’s role has always been to offer clients a highly personalized level of service and support.” (Source: Wunderman Thompson Commerce: Personalizing the B2B Commerce Experience)

 

B2B Personalization is important because:

  • It boosts efficiency for your customers. They find relevant products easier and faster.

  • You can strengthen customer relationships by sending newsletters and displaying products that are highly relevant to them.

  • By limiting your product range to those that your customers need, you strengthen your position as an ideal business partner.

  • By taking into account if your customers are coming from mobile, for example, you can alter the online store navigation to make it easier to navigate this touchpoint.

  • You increase the average order value and lifetime value of your customers.

  • You reduce the overall cost per customer.

  • You can use all your data in real-time and improve data-driven decisions for your digitalization strategy.


Now that you know why you should personalize let’s take a look at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve your efforts.

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Achieve a faster ROI with AI in B2B commerce

AI-based personalization is something that you should consider once your personalization strategy comes to a point where all the activities you have already accomplished are on a good path, but there is still room to grow. If you are starting with B2B personalization, consider all the other options first. We have a whitepaper that shares deep-level insights on building your personalization strategy and going first steps that don’t require artificial intelligence to reap the rewards.

Download: AI & Personalization in B2B E-Commerce

But if you’re all set to leverage artificial intelligence for B2B personalization, you’ll quickly see how this investment pays off:

ROI improvement through AI-based personalization

 

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Speed up the ROI of B2B personalization by three months with AI

  • AI-based personalization decreases the cost per customer

Provide a seamless buyer experience for returning visitors, with a UX based on previous behavior, 1-on-1 personalized e-mails, and surgical retargeting for loyalty and customer reactivation.

  • AI-based personalization increases your overall return per visitor.

Use intelligent up-sell recommendations to increase the value of the products ordered or present relevant additional articles that have a high-profit margin and a solid conversion probability. Another driving force is smart to cross-sell recommendations at various points of the user journey to increase the total number of products ordered. This will subsequently add up to a much higher Average Order Value (AOV) for all your customers, resulting in a significantly increased return per visitor.

  • AI-based personalization boosts your conversion rate.

The most important buyer experience factors that influence the conversion rate in B2B (besides having the right products for your audience) are the on-site search, navigation, and the intelligent display of promotions, yes, even in B2B! Display relevant offers at the right time and put the right products on the product listing page to quickly improve your conversion rate.

 

“B2B customers are expert users, know products very well, and can instantly judge if the recommendations are good. When they are not, they are annoyed. When they are relevant, however, recommendations convert very well. For customers, such a guided experience is the most convenient way to complete an order. For MS Schippers, it is a pathway to higher conversion rates, higher order values, and a higher share-of-wallet.”

Chi-Shing Chang, Co-founder of Intershop’s AI-based on-site search and recommendation engine about AI-based personalization at MS Schippers. 

 

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You can increase buying convenience with AI in B2B commerce.

AI-based personalization will boost the buyer experience much more than basic personalization measures like customer-specific prices, assortments, shipping agreements, or fulfillment conditions. So, since the most important driving force for any digital investment should be to improve buying convenience,  opting for artificial intelligence software is the natural next step in your personalization strategy.

What does B2B buying convenience mean?

Forbes declares: “The easier it is for [your customers] to get needed information and complete a purchase with you, the happier they’ll be. In the long run, convenience may decide your ability to grow your business.”

So, your goal should be to deliver the correct information, at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform. In B2B, this might be the online store. But not just that. Think about an app or even “no hands” applications that provide your customers with information just by voice assistants. And don’t forget your sales reps. By providing them with personalized field sales apps, they, too, can access the same data-driven experience when they are in personal contact with your customers, speeding up the purchase process and leaving more time to discuss new business possibilities.

Artificial Intelligence plays a huge part in the personalization of buying convenience, for those algorithms access any data in real-time: structured data like prices and unstructured data like product relations stored in any place. By connecting all information, real seamless omnichannel buyer experiences become a reality.

When it comes to using data and AI-powered algorithms for personalization, measuring its success must become second nature to you. For example, closely monitoring the conversion of AI-based recommendations and comparing the rate of returning visitors (using recommendations vs. not using recommendations) will give you a good indication of the quality of your personalization. Having the most convenient buyer experience will result in a high conversion rate, and customers that use the recommendations are expected to return significantly more often than customers that don’t.

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You can strengthen the customer relationship with AI in B2B commerce

Facilitating AI-based services can be a huge booster for your buyer's convenience. Artificial intelligence can personalize messaging across different touchpoints or even automate answers for low-level support via online chatbots. Offering an easy way to get in touch with you 24x7 will reduce your cost per customer and lessen the average resolution time for every customer. AI-based customer service provides your customers with 24x7 interaction options that significantly improve your customer engagement and take the burden of your customer service or sales team. How?

Many first-level requests can be automated or handled via self-service. Reviewing the order history? Checking an invoice? Updating an address? Those are easy tools to provide your customers with and are expected to exist because, in B2C, those are no-brainers. But still, manufacturers and wholesalers can stand out from their competitors if they offer their customers those services in a personalized customer portal. AI-based chatbots are a very convenient way to navigate those requests.

What are the most important AI-based use cases to strengthen the B2B customer relationship?

  • AI-supported chatbots that handle customer requests 24x7, 365 days a year, in any time zone

  • AI-powered software can scan emails, tag them, and direct them to the right sales or customer service rep.

  • After gathering the required data, artificial intelligence software can examine it and take further actions to guide B2B buyers through their purchase journey.

  • Artificial intelligence can be used to predict future customer needs. Based on those insights, you can create special promotions or alter the product listings – making your business most relevant and highly convenient for your customer.

  • AI-powered data can predict the churn of your customers, enabling you to start measures to reactivate or strengthen the customer relationship before it is too late.

 

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Summary: How can you use AI in B2B personalization, and why should you do it?

AI-based personalization can significantly improve the B2B buying experience. Starting with an intelligent search on your website, across smart recommendations that boost your average customer revenue, to AI-powered chatbots that unburden your sales and service teams, artificial intelligence can be used widely across your online business. But don’t make the mistake of investing in AI just because it is fancy. There are a lot of possibilities to create highly convenient buying experiences without it. But once you’re ready, nothing beats the real-time understanding of data.

If you build your B2B commerce experience based on a platform that provides AI-based personalization out-of-the-box, you can jump on the hype train as soon as you are ready without much investment. Book a demo today, and we will show you what is possible.

Book a demo today