Manufacturers and distributors hear it every day – and as consumers - they experience it every day: the digital commerce revolution. B2B buyers have realized that e-commerce simplifies their job and so they demand a rich online experience that leads them to what they’re looking for, with the details to make an evaluation easy. But how do you ensure you can meet these expectations? The critical enabling factor is the ability to manage and process product data from multiple sources.
A guest article with Rob Neumann from our Platinum Partner CSS Commerce.
A better B2B E-commerce experience…driven by data
Large product data sets, descriptions, prices, part numbers, images, and CAD/BIM files are the tip of the data iceberg needed for B2B commerce. Without this vital data, users get a 'no product found' when there actually is a product. But it is complex, has many attributes, variants, and is configurable.
Sound extreme? More than 60% of B2B online stores will return a ‘null search’ when the average buyer enters a product query. And if it can’t be found, it can’t be bought. Companies struggle to identify the right way to consolidate and manage product-related data which often sits in disparate data silos such as ERP, PIM, and spreadsheets. This slows down digital commerce projects and the ROI of your e-commerce platform.
So, how do you move from a data silo state into an integrated e-commerce business machine fed by accurate search results and personalized recommendations?
Two critical success factors -- (hint) it's all about data
There are two universal keys to success to get your data house in order: Authenticated identity and Common Data Structure & Language (in geek speak we call it Relational Keys and Master Data Taxonomy).
- Authenticate the identity
Whether it’s a product’s name, a description, the dimensions and weight of an industrial good, or shipping restrictions: The first step is to define a set of relevant attributes that are standardized throughout your business and that can uniquely identify each record within a data table. This will greatly facilitate cross-departmental information sharing and is the key to unlocking the door to successfully selling online.
- Create a common data structure and language
As you think about organization-wide data, creating a standard and common language for your products/ attributes will be key to better communication. With a common language, a product name (and other identifiers) remains consistent whether it's being discussed by the finance team or in logistics. In doing so, you create a single source of truth. And good data management is about managing a single source of truth!
Master data and a good taxonomy will drive better search results and higher margin sales
Product data is an important conversion trigger
The customer journey begins with finding and evaluating the right product. If you write the product descriptions the way your buyer uses the product, and add variations of the name, (including common misspellings), insert equivalent brand names, and sizes, packaging (e.g. pallets), and shipping options as attributes, you've set your team up for success. The powerful search capabilities of your e-commerce platform will do the rest, ensuring that search queries are converted into purchases.
Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
Introduce additional products related to products in your customer's cart or to previous purchases. Maybe add secondary product lines not tied directly to the product but that can be substituted, upgraded, or include valuable add-ons such as installation. The foundation for this is a consolidated, comprehensive, and reliable product data source with product relationships that makes it easier for customers to discover the cross-sell and up-sell offers across your omnichannel touchpoints. Yes, even in B2B there are a variety of ways to showcase new and additional products to increase wallet share.
Product bundling is a powerful way to boost average order values and sales margins by introducing related products and grouping them under one SKU. To work, it’s crucial to develop and maintain a SKU catalog that optimally supports product bundling without increasing SKU redundancy. Start by eliminating duplicates and standardizing your SKU data. A proper SKU catalog is well-structured and uses a standard taxonomy throughout departments and catalogs that make it easy to create an intuitive hierarchy with logical grouping practices.
Working on your 2022 e-commerce project and need help with your site search strategy?
As B2B e-commerce initiatives continue to skyrocket, speed to market is the currency of the day. Intershop and CSS Commerce have teamed up to guarantee an outstanding e-commerce experience through advanced site search. Watch our free webinar and discover best practices for your e-commerce search strategy!