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Good content will boost the conversion rate. If the product information is inaccurate, there is a higher chance that the customer would order the wrong product. If your content is accurate, you also relieve the pressure on customer service and decrease the percentage of returns.

The B2B Expert Group in this session tackles the subject of Product Information, which is of highest importance for the online B2B buyer. Herbert Pesch, managing director of B2B digital agency Evident, and Roelof Swiers from Intershop reflect: “All research claims that reliable and detailed product information is the most important trigger for purchasing an item online.”


The importance of product images

Good content generates more conversion; but what is good content, exactly? The experts agree that exact information provides answers and offers security. B2B products need to be easily recognizable, available on all devices and so the value of good images should not be underestimated. Eefje Vogel (Bavaria): “Images are crucial. Customers want to see what they order so that they can be sure that they receive the right item. Good images provide a higher rate of conversion.”

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Personalized product information

Allard van Veelen (Vanderlande) adds: “You need to help your B2B customer on his/her way. For instance, some of our large accounts have their own product numbers. With that, we offer our customers the possibility to order the right part quickly and easily.” Akzo offers customers added value as well. Dennis van den Hoek: “We also sell paint that could be potentially dangerous if it is not used correctly[...] We help our customers by adding safety information about this article and supplying the correct documents.” In short, you provide your customers peace of mind by offering comprehensive product information.

Product information based on the B2B customer journey

In order to deliver good content, you need to have a clear understanding of the customer journey. Eefje Vogels (Bavaria): “Putting yourself in your costumers’ shoes every now and then provides you with many insights. You would be amazed to learn what their challenges are.”

Dirk-Jan Goudswaard (Royal IHC) also underlines the importance of the customer journey. “The ships we build are made of many different parts. Identifying the part that needs to be replaced and ordered, is the hardest. For all phases of the customer journey, relevant information is required.”

Royal IHC does everything in its power to prevent that a ship remains at the dock for too long. “Preserving the current state of the parts that are installed on the ship is crucial for this. With correct information, the right parts are ordered, which can then be replaced quickly, efficiently and on time. This will guarantee that the ship remains fully operational.”

Keeping the quality of product information high

Wavin is global market leader in plastic piping systems and  working on an extensive data classification project. Michan Katerbarg: “We strive for a uniform way of dealing with product information. This does not only involve data management, but quality as well. As a B2B organization, your quality needs to be the same through all channels, whether it concerns your own website, third party websites or catalogs.” Wavin uses ETIM as a standard. Katerbarg: “Our customers ask for it. This was very useful for building support within the organization.”

Product information helps internally, too

Making sure your product information is in order also provides advantages for the internal organization. Katerbarg: “The product information is modified in one central place and is therefore always accurate and up to date. Thanks to that, wholesale businesses are better informed and the time-to-market decreases significantly. Turnover increases, while expenses decrease since we require fewer systems. Finally, we keep less stock, because we have a better insight into our customer’s ordering patterns.”

Product information can reduce returns

Recent research shows that an online order is returned 7x less often than an order made by telephone through a sales representative, if you have good product information. How is that possible? The customer him- or herself is responsible for ordering the right product. Even when the customer has purchased the product, you are not out of the woods just yet.

After conversion – i.e. in the after-sales phase – product information is still very important. If you provide correct and relevant content  after the conversion, you keep adding value for your customers. Adding custom documents is a good example for this, as well as tailored instructions for the installation of a technical product. Long-term business relationships are crucial for B2B commerce, after all, and this is no different for online sales.

How to create the perfect product information

What does getting your product information in order involve? To answer that question, you need to know for what purpose you will be using the product information (internally/externally) and start with the needs of the customer. In addition, you need to collect and enrich all data with the relevant information and break down silos within your organization. After that, it is essential to design a good data infrastructure. An ERP system generally doesn't contain all necessary and desired product information for digital commerce and especially not the essential flexibility. For this, a different solution is required.

Finally, it is also important to arrange the organization accordingly. Change the mindset of the enterprise from a product- to a data-driven organization. It is also essential to assign an “owner” of content. If you don't, you would create a work environment where no one feels responsible for the product information. At INDI, the marketing department is owner. Sybrand Brouwer (INDI): “They have the best opportunity to think from the customer’s perspective and in addition, they can increase the online findability (by deploying SEO).” 

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