Many distributor websites fail to address the basics on their website, including accurate product information, current stock levels, and even site performance. These issues can make a simple shopping experience a difficult one, meaning that buyers are having to phone up to place an order or, in many cases, abandon the purchase completely.
Increased customer expectations and buying dynamics mean that a website is now the main point of differentiation between the competition. If your website doesn’t serve its purpose and offer the best possible customer experience, you may find your visitors will shop elsewhere.
A well-designed distributor website gets noticed, keeps customers around for longer, and through positive word-of-mouth and SEO, gains more customers. Most customers will be happy to pay more for a great customer experience, so you will need to make sure your website is fit for facilitating building relationships with B2B buyers.
Prepare for Digitisation
Many smaller distributors, particularly in the niche or older industrial segments, still depend on faxes, phone calls, and in-person meetings. As the distribution industry is one of the largest and most varied business sectors, it’s crucial that their websites are prepared for the buying world.
Pre-COVID, buyers prefer to make their own decision through a self-service structure rather than being sold to. This trend has only been enhanced by COVID-19.
Over half of B2B buyers dislike having a salesperson contact them by phone, and a similar number want to avoid in-person meetings.
Millennial B2B buyers lean strongly towards digital in both their shopping and buying habits. As a distributor, this shows that the perfect website is all about prioritising a better shopping experience.
According to Distribution Strategy, many customers of niche products prefer to shop on the manufacturer’s website over that of a distributor. These buyers automatically gravitate towards marketplace websites that feature powerful search functionalities, extensive product libraries, and great resources to make product comparison easy. When buyers are shopping for products, they will much rather use convenient, easy to use and affordable marketplaces.
In order to keep up with their competitors, distributors are taking the next step and are actively looking at platforms with online marketplace features to be one step ahead.
Tapping into an online marketplace builds an element of trust and improves the buying experience by offering value-added services and an intuitive experience.
More Than a Product Catalogue
Distributor websites shouldn’t just be a product catalogue. In order to drive customers to purchase and enjoy the shopping experience, it’s crucial to offer personalisation and tell a story with your brand.
Some buyers even admit to shopping with no intent and will browse on marketplaces, like Amazon, to source inspiration for their next purchase. For distributors, presenting their products in a marketplace is certainly the most effective way of drawing customer attention.
Benefits of a Modern Ecommerce Website for Distributors
An eCommerce website is more than just a collection of your products and specifications. The average B2B customer doesn’t want to place a call, email for more details, or flip through a PDF or paper catalogue.
Having an immersive eCommerce marketplace will provide countless benefits for both distributors and their buyers.
Branding is more than a logo or tagline. It uniquely identifies you and differentiates you from the crowd. Distributors must serve many audiences, both up channel and down channel partners, resellers, and customers. An eCommerce website essentially allows distributors to establish how they want to be known, how they are different, and the unique value proposition they offer.
Buyers are never restricted to the time of day in which they place an order, so making your eCommerce website available at all times will open up new doors to your customers. Enabling your buyers to visit and purchase your products, regardless of the time or day, will maximise your sales and profits.
Optimise your website for SEO, publish helpful guides and do everything possible to increase your discoverability. Not only does this mean your visitors will find you, but it also means your brand becomes established as a trusted source.
Data and metrics
Website interactions are invaluable when it comes to building a positive shopping experience. The best way of doing this is through accurate data and metrics such as Google Analytics, which provides web traffic data and information relating to sales, order quantities, cart abandonment rates, etc.
Accurate data makes for better-informed decisions, meaning that you are able to identify how operations can be improved to further improve your efficiency.
Enter new markets, form stronger relationships and build strategic partnerships. Adopt an omnichannel approach to create a tailored experience for partners and buyers.
Essential Elements for a Distributor Website
For an effective eCommerce website that addresses customer needs and automates operations and processes, it’s crucial to incorporate the elements we have listed below.
Modern and responsive design
An intuitive website experience is what most buyers expect when shopping through an eCommerce site, regardless of which device they are browsing on. When creating a website, it’s vital to have a clean web design that is built for both computer and mobile devices. It also needs to be fully responsive, right out of the box.
Product information and search
Having a robust on-site search function and extensive product catalogue features can make it much easier for buyers to find exactly what they are looking for.
Customisable pricing engine
As mentioned above, millennial buyers strongly dislike the idea of phoning up to place an order. It’s difficult, time-consuming, and it’s always convenient when shopping out of hours. Having a website that allows for custom pricing and price negotiation is a fantastic sales driver.
Distributors tend to have many types of customers: small, large, and everything in-between. As a result, they need a website that accommodates every customer’s ordering and checkout preferences which includes unique payment, shipping, and order approval configurations.
Back-end features of a good website for distributors
Integration with other systems
Every system in a distributor’s tech stack provides an invaluable source of data. Look for integration capabilities with CRM, distribution ERP software, PIM, WHM, and accounting systems. Don’t forget about marketing integrations such as Google Analytics eCommerce Tracking and CRM dashboards.
Having the ability to easily market your website on the back-end through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can act as a powerful marketing tool in order to become more visible online.
Automated ordering and workflows
Automate ordering and workflows to improve your process and provide a better customer experience, with the facility to implement a request for quote (RFQ), configure price quote (CPQ) and quote to cash (QTC). Integrate these workflows within your website to automate processes, reduce pricing errors, and serve customers better and faster.
Open, robust APIs
A robust back-end and front-end API is becoming increasingly important for distributors who have complex vendor or customer relationships. For example, APIs allow for the deployment of PWAs and headless commerce integrations.
Support multiple websites under one roof
Sell across various industries with multi-site, multi-organisational, multi-language, and multi-currency capabilities. Address various target markets in a personalised manner, for scalability, and for future growth.
B2B eCommerce is the New Normal for Distributors
Unfortunately, many distributors are not achieving the results they could with online sales, with some businesses failing to adopt B2B eCommerce.
B2B eCommerce already accounts for more than half of B2B transactions. Investing in a user-friendly, future-proof eCommerce website for your distribution business is the very best way to maximise the shopping experience and improve back-end processes.