The ecommerce boom is happening. Shoppers are hitting the digital aisles and brands have been racing to keep up with new trends and best practices to keep customers happy and engaged. With so many sales happening in the digital environment, it’s sensible to apply the same B2C fervor to the B2B world…right?
It would make sense to assume the trajectory of B2B ecommerce is aligned with the overall sharp rise in ecommerce growth. Yes, the demand for similarly engaging B2B ecommerce experiences is there, however it has its own unique needs and challenges. What B2B brands need is an understanding of what expectations their buyers bring to the table, and what makes those expectations different from the average browsing customer.
In order for B2B buying experiences to be successful, they need to have search technology that is tuned to meet the unique needs of whatever segment of buyer is engaging. Semantic vector search is geared to address those needs and make the lives of both B2B businesses and their buyers’ experiences much easier and delightful.
1. Getting deep in the details
When it comes to B2B ecommerce experiences, the smallest details matter. B2B buyers are often looking for very specific components with little room for error. For example, auto parts require down-to-the-letter accuracy. There’s no “browsing” element as in B2C–a buyer is looking for exactly what they want. Specific buying experiences require specific search functionality. We refer to these as “tail queries” – technical and detail-intensive searches that are not necessarily lexical in nature.
Back-end index complexity and search terms tied to inventory issues require a sophisticated search solution. Semantic search technology is not only capable of handling complex query routing where no detail is too small, but it also allows for automation to expand results returned to the buyer. This allows for more precision when products might be out-of-stock and a very specific replacement can be used in its stead. In an environment where minutia is the main event, semantic search can establish stronger connections between these details and ensure buyers are finding exactly what they are looking for.
2. Reducing manual effort
The details mentioned above can compound into a major headache for B2B strategists and commerce managers. They often end up manually creating the kinds of lexical search connections they hope will serve their buyers. In many cases, they simply don’t have a dedicated search team or search expert to lift the weight of connecting so many moving parts. Their typical solutions tend to be painful to implement and operate, especially when integrating across all customer and employee touchpoints.
A sophisticated semantic search solution is capable of not only digging deep into the details, but also continually iterating on the information it is given – with little manual input. This can significantly reduce strain on marketing, IT and strategy teams that are otherwise not equipped to handle the level of manual effort required for managing detailed B2B queries.
3. Foster B2B buyer loyalty
Much like B2C customers, B2B buyers come to their digital experiences with a lot of expectations. In most cases, they do not see themselves as buyers but as partners. They want connected experiences that offer flexibility and options while simultaneously knowing their needs. They want instantaneous access to information and content that can inform their journey and ultimately serve their buying decisions. Perhaps most importantly, B2B buyers expect sellers to both utilize and provide access to digital tools to make the entire journey more intuitive and immediate.
A comprehensive search solution can deliver on each of these fronts, establishing trust and loyalty with the buyer. When buyers feel like their goals are being understood and streamlined, the entire buying experience becomes more personalized and enjoyable. Because B2B buying can also involve a field selling sales cycle, the B2B digital experience must also work in kind with the humans building the relationships with the buyers–it should be a complementary strategy between the two. B2B brands should be taking every opportunity to create this kind of convenience, and their search strategy is an effective way to get started. The data that search provides can help accelerate a field sales cycle and create a better research experience for the buyer as well.
While the methods and specific needs may be different, what B2B buyers appreciate is not so different from traditional ecommerce experiences. They want easy, delightful experiences that make them feel understood. At Lucidworks, we believe the core of great digital experiences start with search–where B2B buyers are acting with the most intent. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can support your B2B search goals and deliver unforgettable experiences to your customers.
Want even more insights? All of this and more are covered in our webinar on how search can be the tip of the spear for your B2B strategy.
Contact us today to learn how Lucidworks can help your team create powerful search and discovery applications for your customers and employees.