At the start of 2019, Forrester Research forecasted B2B e-commerce in the U.S. will reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales by 2023.
While many B2B businesses have responded to this prevailing trend by readying their e-commerce purchasing platforms, they sometimes forget that B2B buyers have learned to expect a business-to-consumer experience when they shop online. Getting your B2B site to deliver the optimum customer experience to maximize conversion requires a careful, analytical approach.
You can gain transformative insights by following the data trail of the customer that aborts! If your B2B e-commerce platform is experiencing a high volume of abandoned shopping carts, it may be time to optimize how your site performs all the way down to the individual product category.
Insight on Cart Abandonment
In 2019, the online shopping cart abandonment rate was as high as 69.57%, according to Baymard.com, which averaged the results of 41 different e-commerce studies. By far, the highest percentage of those was the 53% attributed to customers backing out of sales when they perceived that online costs were too high. This was followed by 31% who aborted the final sale because they did not want to spend the time required to create an account.
A common misconception is that cost is the overriding factor that gets buyers to purchase online, however, a nominal percentage of abandoned carts is unavoidable due to site visitors shopping to compare prices, saving items for later purchase, or simply exploring products without any real intention of buying. Any abandoned cart is detrimental as a cost because resources were invested in nurturing the customer, but those aborted sales can also be viewed as important opportunities to research and learn how your customers experience shopping on your site.
Optimize for Conversion
With today’s rapidly declining attention spans, even a one-second delay in website load time can contribute to frustration that causes people to abandon their cart. It is important to know which product pages on your site should load more quickly, and which pages can sacrifice speed for higher-quality images, videos or other dynamic content. This will depend entirely on your customer’s expectations for shopping in that particular category.
The average page load time was 3.88 seconds across Internet Retailer’s “Top 1000” sites. Pages for certain product categories such as housewares/home furnishings require, on average, one second longer to load because they contain high-resolution images. Quite simply, online consumers have come to expect more visually impactful content in this product category, and that contributes to the overall page load time.
Automotive accessories, on the other hand, are one-second faster and can get by with thumbnail images needing less time to load. For this online category, consumers have come to expect more textual information and do not expect high-resolution images.
In other categories, customers may expect to see reviews, comparisons and even video recommendations. It’s a balance required between customer expectations and aesthetics on one hand and quick functionality on the other that you must get right.
Tips on Optimizing for Conversion
In order to optimize your site performance for conversion, you must correlate customer expectations with how your site performs in each category. This will help you understand how fast the site should load in each category, how much revenue is at stake, and where to begin making changes.
If your best conversion optimization in a product category requires dynamic, high-resolution content then consider moving the content closer to your users. You can then reduce cart abandonment rates by enabling content caching in order to ensure visitors experience a fast load time even during peak hours.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) provide a globally-distributed network of proxy servers that cache content at edge locations and ensure faster delivery of your website from wherever your customers access it — thus improving access speed for downloading dynamic content. This can even be done for content that is housed in an on-premises data center, and not in the cloud.
Another important way to reduce e-commerce cart abandonment is to improve price transparency at every step. Presenting customers with extra fees at the end contributes to high cart abandonment. As a buyer moves through your site towards checkout, it is crucial to provide real-time updates on extra costs (such as shipping, taxes and fees).
Tax calculation is a great example. Integrating a tax solution with your e-commerce platform that provides real-time and accurate tax calculations as a customer adds products to their cart avoids surprises at checkout and ensures accurate tax estimates are presented to customers.
According to research conducted by Baymard.com, 20% of online transactions were aborted in 2019 because customers were confused about how order costs were calculated. If you cannot provide real-time updates on some costs until checkout (for example cost of shipping) then at least present the final cost calculation in a simple manner that is easy to understand.
Convenience is King
Make it Quick
Time is valuable for consumers, and B2B merchants should look for ways to reduce friction in the buying process as much as possible to streamline the user experience and seamlessly usher the customer to checkout.
One way to do this is by minimizing the number of steps required for customers to complete an online transaction. One of the leading causes of shopping cart abandonment is a poorly designed checkout experience. This can be mitigated by, for example, not forcing a potential customer to create an account in order to make a purchase, and by reducing the overall number of steps required to make a payment.
The quicker a customer can check out, the more likely they will complete the purchase transaction and also return again in the future.
Make it Easy
Another factor that contributes to abandoning an e-commerce transaction relates to frustration with having to manually enter address and payment information. If you want to reduce frustration with your checkout process, review the number of online form fields a customer is required to fill in, and re-evaluate whether they are necessary or if there are quicker, less-repetitive ways to ask for a customer’s data.
Offering multiple payment options is also absolutely key to convenience and ensuring that customers stay with the purchase through to the end transaction. If customers are not able to pay with their preferred payment method, they are more likely to abandon the transaction. In the U.S., credit cards are the most preferred method, however, digital wallets are quickly catching up as the second most popular payment method. In fact, digital wallets tied to debit cards are unique in that they offer relief from many of the challenges outlined above related to convenience.
For many customers, especially younger ones, convenience is epitomized by being able to purchase over their smartphones. By 2021, it is expected that 53.9% of all retail e-commerce sales will be transacted by mobile phone. While this statistic relates to a business-to-consumer trend, remember that B2B buyers have come to expect the same experience when shopping online for professional products. It is important to ensure that your website’s payment page is mobile compatible.
After a careful assessment of the customer experience on your B2B e-commerce platform, you will commonly find that many of the reasons that contribute to the shopping cart abandonment rate are due to factors that can be mitigated with a better understanding of your target customer’s expectations. Then, initiating research-based planning and conversion optimization will make the online B2B shopping experience an amazing one for your buyers.