In our last article, we talked about the massive, rapid growth of Amazon Business, how they achieved such growth, and how you as a B2B merchant can use their tools to put your customers first. Selling your products on Amazon is essentially par for the course if you want to compete in today’s business world. It’s so big, in fact, that you might think, “Why should I bother selling my products on my own Ecommerce website when I can just use Amazon?”
It’s a great question, and a highly valid one. Amazon is setting B2B buyers’ expectations for digital buying experiences, and that can be a tough thing to beat.
The good news is that Amazon isn’t hiding what it’s doing. In fact, you can go and sign up for an Amazon Business account to make some purchases and you’ll see exactly what it’s like. You can try out all the features they offer for yourself and gain a first-hand understanding of what is making Amazon Business so popular.
And, best of all, you can learn what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and then apply those lessons to your own business.
But why stop there? You can also talk to customers directly to understand what they need from an online experience. There are many ways to talk to your buyers—focus groups, customer interviews, surveys, an Ecommerce advisory group. It’s always a good idea to talk to different customer segments, regions, etc. Whatever methods you choose, make sure you do it consistently to avoid any biases.
Ultimately, if you’re going to adopt what Amazon does, you need to do what they do. Here are a few examples of what you can learn from them, but if you’re looking for a more in-depth discussion and a few case studies, check out our managing partner’s book Billion Dollar B2B Ecommerce.
Reviews & Ratings
From what products are displayed in search results to how they’re ranked on a page, Amazon places a large emphasis on product ratings. Typically speaking, products that are highly ranked and have a number of reviews appear more frequently in search results and other places on Amazon’s site. What’s more, users often rely on reviews to judge whether a product is good or the company selling it is trustworthy.
That means that as you design your own Ecommerce site, reviews and ratings can play a major role in helping to convert online sales. This will bring the voice of the customer to your product pages, a key step in attracting and closing sales.
It’s important to note, though, that it can be time consuming to build review content. On Amazon, there are restrictions on requesting reviews, but on your own site you’re much freer to do what you want. That’s when it’s time to reach out to your existing customers to ask them to leave reviews on your site. Use your email list and sales team to build up this section. After all, a site that shows that products have no reviews can seem hollow, or worse, give the impression that neither the product nor your company are very good. Additionally, it’s a good idea to deploy an automated email asking for a review that customers receive when their products are delivered. This will ensure a consistent number of reviews and make it easier to generate new review content for new products.
Search is very important in B2B. Amazon has so many products that the main way buyers find products is through search. And it works great. They have created an experience that gets buyers to products quickly and allows them to easily apply filters to help them narrow down the choices. Amazon’s search filters are extremely effective and specific to B2B buyer needs. For example, Amazon often allows buyers to filter by diversity credentials. This is a powerful buying tool for companies that have requirements to purchase from minority or woman-owned businesses (such as many government agencies).
The good news is that you can offer search filters that are even more customized than what Amazon offers. For example, we have one client that sells electrical supply products, and buyers to filter searches by types of installations or equipment; residential vs. commercial, type of building, place of equipment in building, etc. There are likely specific things you know about your business and the way people apply your products that can inform your search filters and help buyers get to the products they want quickly.
Trade Credit Financing
As I mentioned in Part 1, Amazon offers Corporate Credit, which allows B2B firms to make purchases in ways they’re familiar with such as using purchase orders, Net 55 payment terms, etc. Trade credit is certainly a standard way to offer financing on your Ecommerce site, however, its benefits typically don’t align with the goals of Ecommerce—to make the buyer’s job easier. If you want to learn from Amazon, it’s a good idea to investigate alternate payment methods. This might include credit cards, but it can also include instant credit services like Credit Key (full disclosure: our managing partner sits on Credit Key’s board). As is proven on Amazon, alternative payment methods like Credit Key is also a very effective way to extend additional buying power, capturing more share of wallet.
Whatever payment methods or financing options you’re offering, they must be in sync with what buyers get through other channels; i.e. if they have a line of credit offline that needs to be available to them when making online purchases.
Amazon gives fast delivery, and it’s a perfect fit for B2B sellers. After all, many times, businesses need products quickly; some buyers’ jobs may even depend on it. Therefore, it’s smart to think about how you can leverage their approach to shipping to rapidly deliver orders from your own Ecommerce site. One method can be to use Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA), where you send your products to Amazon’s warehouse and they handle the fulfillment function, even on orders originating from your own website. This gives you access to their extensive distribution network, and will likely make your customers happier since they’ll receive their orders faster.
Excellent Product Data
This is something I come back to again and again with B2B sellers. Amazon presents product information in a very easy to understand format. Successful B2B product listings include detailed product data, images, video, and other essential information, all presented in an easy-to-use consumer-like experience. That also includes the highly visible “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons.
The good news is that there’s nothing stopping you from including that information and formatting it on your site. The key here is to use a conventional format on every product page, along with industry-specific data that might be necessary for buyers to make their decisions. It may take a while to get all your data into shape, but that’s an investment that’s well worth your while.
Upselling and Bundling
One thing Amazon does exceedingly well is upselling and bundling products to entice buyers to spend more. When shopping on Amazon, you’ve probably seen, “Buyers who bought X also bought Y.” This is what’s called web merchandising, and it also applies to B2B Ecommerce.
Features like this act like a true virtual salesperson, recommending products at the right time and in the right bundle to the buyer. Amazon deploys a number of advanced algorithms and tools that help it understand what B2B buyers buy, and then offer those products to similar buyers.
To do this on your own site you need sophisticated software. Luckily, many modern Ecommerce platforms incorporate this. What’s great is that you can adopt Amazon’s approach and make it even more customized to your specific customer. You don’t have 600 million products like Amazon does, but your product offerings are based on your customers’ purchasing habits and your knowledge. By applying the same principles of web merchandising, you can offer an even more customized experience.
If you want to improve your B2B business’ presence on Amazon, contact us. Our B2B Amazon experts can help you strategically achieve incremental revenue growth on the world’s largest marketplace.