What’s the difference between a successful web store and an e-commerce endeavor best forgotten? It often comes down to just one factor: customer experience. But what makes for a good customer experience, and how can you ensure your web store doesn’t fall short?
What Is Customer Experience?
The concept of customer experience is nothing new, but a new sales landscape means that the term has a new definition.
Fifty years ago, a good customer experience was being greeted by name in a general store, receiving personal shopping advice and maybe some extras at checkout if you were a loyal customer. Today it’s ‘Hi <your name here>!’ appearing on screen at your favorite web store, practically prescient product suggestions and perfectly timed emails containing discount codes for frequent web store visitors.
Sounds pretty familiar, right?
The underlying principles of what constitutes a good customer experience haven’t changed, but how we expect to experience them has. Service with a smile is easy when you’re selling in person, but how do you achieve the same sense of delight in an online sales environment? There are two elements to a stellar web store CX: the emotional experience and the rational experience.
You might be using 1s and 0s to fashion your online sales environment, but the feelings your web store evokes are still key in determining the customer experience.
The foundation for your client’s emotional experience is how they interact with the design, style and tone of your web store, as well as your branding. You want your online storefront to be a seamless extension of your established brand, while adhering to modern web design norms.
Even the most visually appealing and perfectly branded web store won’t be enough to keep visitors coming back if it falls short on basic usability. This can be divided into three core elements:
Ease of use: Your web store is easy to navigate, accessible, and secure.
Relevance: Pages are optimized for maximum findability in search engines and maybe even tailored to customer’s needs and preferences.
Performance: Clients can load your web pages in a matter of seconds, and trust that your web store is always available.
Customer Experience Challenges
Is it as simple as making sure all these ingredients go into your web store?
Yes and no.
Yes, in that if you strive to create an online sales environment that ticks these boxes, you’ll have a head start when it comes to delivering a memorable buying experience for your clients. But unfortunately, making this happen is easier said than done — hence the no.
Perfecting the online customer experience can be a particular challenge for B2B companies. This is because you have to translate complex buying processes into a user-friendly web store environment, all while competing with expectations shaped by B2C e-commerce giants.
Consumer-focused web stores need to provide clear product overviews, sufficient item information, and if possible, an estimated delivery time. No mean feat.
But B2B web stores need to do all that and meet the additional needs of professional buyers. Customer-specific discounts, for instance — why would a client order through your web store if they can get a better deal by phone? Then there’s composite products, managerial approval, possible prepayment… In other words, a lot of extra features to get right.
But simply managing this complexity in your online sales environment isn’t enough — you have to make it look as effortless as consumer web stores do.
Yes, B2B and B2C web stores are different, but not in your clients’ perception. The ongoing consumerization of online B2B sales means that primarily consumer-focused web stores like Amazon are setting the customer experience bar for all web stores — even the ones that are strictly for professional buyers.
In today’s competitive online marketplace, “But I’m B2B” isn’t a reason not to offer intuitive navigation, beautiful design and clear copy in your web store.
How Sana Helps You Deliver a Great Customer Experience
We’ve probably made crafting a great customer experience for B2B web stores sound practically impossible — but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In April we released the latest version of our integrated e-commerce software for Microsoft Dynamics and SAP, Sana Commerce 9.2. Or, as we call it: the customer experience release. Our goal was to give companies the tools they need to create an excellent customer experience, no matter how complex their business processes.
Our new features include:
Online Invoice Payment
With Sana Commerce, paying invoices is easier than ever. Merchants can accept client payments directly through their Sana web store. In fact, business clients can pay multiple outstanding invoices at once. It goes without saying that this feature integrates with Microsoft Dynamics’ order processing and cash management modules for optimal efficiency.
Streamlined Product Returns
We have also made return management easier in Sana Commerce 9.2. You can now use our software to create a user-friendly and personalized return experience for your clients. The RMA process is fully automated and integrated with Microsoft Dynamics — and it’s available for all orders, even those placed through other channels.
Product and Order Attachments
If your clients purchase complex items or equipment through your web store, easy access to the corresponding product documentation is essential. Sana Commerce 9.2 paves the way for straightforward document sharing through your web store thanks to seamless integration with your Dynamics ERP. Merchants can easily attach PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint files and images to products in your web store, and you can even attach files and URLs to sales documents in your ERP and make them available in your online storefront.
Discover Sana Commerce 9.2: the Customer Experience Release
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