Influenced by B2C shopping experiences, the demands of B2B buyers are increasingly complex and their expectations of e-commerce have never been higher.
Nowhere is this more apparent than at the checkout, where just one poor experience can lead to the loss of a valuable customer or one small frustration can result in an abandoned basket.
In 2024, it’s more important than ever to offer a seamless, B2C-inspired checkout that ticks all the boxes for your B2B buyers – but what the hell does that actually look like? Well, it’s fast and simple, with the combination of payment terms and settlement methods that your buyers prefer. It’s a balance of transparency, security and efficiency. Oh, and did we mention it needs to be a flawless digital experience?
Jeez! These buyers don’t ask for much do they?
Don’t worry, it’s not quite as complicated as it sounds. We’ve broken it down into bitesize chunks to help you prioritise the six things your B2B e-commerce checkout must deliver this year.
1. Speed and efficiency
Your customers are busy people who want a quick procurement experience. They’ve got a lot to do and can’t spend all day filling out the forms and fields of your checkout. So, you need to ask as little of them as possible.
We don’t expect the impossible. We know that you need to ask first-time buyers to provide a few compulsory pieces of information – business name, delivery address, payment details and things like that. But anything superfluous needs to be cut so the buyer can get from account creation to purchase confirmation as fast as possible.
Meanwhile, existing customers should be able to log in, fill their basket and then checkout in just a few clicks. All the account, delivery and payment information you asked them the first time around should be automatically filled in (with the option for them to edit it, of course).
Almost 60% of B2B buyers have abandoned a purchase because the checkout took too long to complete. Ultimately, if you respect your buyers’ time, they’ll respect you as a supplier.
2. The payment terms buyers expect
Payment terms aren’t just a ‘nice to have’ that your customers can take or leave. They’re the standard in B2B transactions, expected by the vast majority of buyers. Meanwhile, e-commerce is quickly becoming the standard procurement method in B2B, with more buyers (35%) preferring online purchasing channels than any other channel, including in-person sales (26%), video conferencing (12%), email (10%) and telesales (8%).
Do you see where we’re going with this?
Put simply, if you aren’t offering any payment terms options at the checkout, you’re alienating the large portion of your customer base that expects, demands and deserves credit. It’s tough out there. Your buyers need credit in order to survive. So, no matter how loyal they may have been to you, if a customer finds out they can get 60-day payment terms or instalment plans from your competitor, you can wave them goodbye.
(Psst, it doesn’t have to be goodbye! We can help you offer the payment terms that keep buyers coming back for more – chat to us to learn more)
3. Preferred settlement methods
Here’s the thing: payment terms are no good to anyone if buyers can’t eventually settle their payment in a way that is quick and convenient for them.
In fact, it’s so important to business buyers that 90% of them check the settlement methods on offer before they even start a purchase. Almost half (48%) have abandoned a shopping cart because their preferred payment method wasn’t available at the checkout. It’s serious business.
As a B2B supplier, you probably already know to offer bank transfer and Direct Debit payment options as standard. Higher average order values mean that debit and credit cards are sometimes unsuitable in B2B. However, if your site often receives orders worth a few hundred pounds/euros/other currencies/whatever cryptocurrency is hot right now, then your buyers might want to pay via card.
You also need to consider the regional payment preferences of your buyers. It all comes down to where your buyers are based. For example, data shows that iDEAL processed over 1.2 billion transactions in the Netherlands in 2022, but outside of this region, it isn’t widely used. Many countries have payment idiosyncrasies like this and it’s in your best interest to cater to them at the checkout
4. Peace of mind
As B2B becomes more slick and sophisticated, as do the bad actors looking to cheat their way into a slice of the action. With fraudulent activity more prominent than ever, it’s vital for B2B e-commerce checkouts to prioritise security.
Any merchant worth their salt knows this and will have taken steps to partner with reputable payment institutions, obtain an SSL certificate, craft an airtight returns policy and generally keep things safe, secure and legal. It’s all essential stuff, but there’s a bit more to it that doesn’t always get the consideration it deserves: making these security measures visible to customers.
Buyers – especially new ones who haven’t done business with you before – need reassurance that they can trust you to look after their information and deliver the goods or services as promised. They’re looking for security signals including:
- Trustpilot scores
- Customer testimonials
- Payment partner logos
- A link to your returns policy
- Contact info
- The SSL certificate for your site
Nowhere are these security signals more important than at the point when you’re asking the buyer to hand over their personal information and payment details. Research suggests that 48% of cart abandonment can be attributed to security concerns – don’t give your buyers a reason to question the legitimacy of your site.
5. Transparent shipping fees
With 47% of online shoppers having abandoned a purchase due to unexpected delivery costs, research reveals that surprise fees like these are one of the main reasons for cart abandonment.
Now, we know that this statistic is from a consumer survey, but stay with us for a moment. Your B2B buyers are also consumers and by default they look for a good deal. If anything, they may feel more pressure to be cost conscious in a professional setting than in their personal lives because it isn’t their own money. Further still, you are a consumer – how many times have you seen a £5.95 delivery fee at the checkout and decided to shop elsewhere?
If you’re asking B2B buyers to make their way through the checkout only for you to add shipping costs, transaction fees and tax right at the last moment, you’re playing a very risky game – one where losing can mean the permanent loss of a good customer. It appears deceptive and sneaky. No one likes a sssnake.
Instead, be as transparent as possible by displaying shipping costs and any additional fees on product pages. Make an accurate running total clearly visible on the basket page before the buyer has spent time going through the checkout.
6. A flawless digital experience
Come on, people. It’s 2024. E-commerce is king. We can’t afford to be providing a substandard online experience to B2B buyers.
Forgive us for banging on about it, but your customers’ expectations are higher than ever, which means their patience for poor digital experiences is at an all time low. If your website crashes while a buyer is halfway through adding delivery details, or they are unable to easily navigate through the stages of the checkout, you’re going to lose that buyer.
If your website – and specifically your online checkout – isn’t up to scratch, it needs to be a priority this year. You’re running out of time to be known as a serious player in the new, digital era of B2B commerce. You really don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.
What did we learn?
If everything has gone according to plan and our content marketing guy has done his job properly, you’ll have learned what we consider to be the six most important things that your B2B e-commerce checkout must deliver this year. Merchants and marketplaces looking to secure their share of the market, accelerate growth and become known as pioneers in B2B digital commerce need to:
- Make the checkout as fast and efficient as possible by minimising the amount of information required from buyers.
- Provide buyers with the flexible payment terms they demand and deserve.
- Combine payment terms with a range of suitable settlement methods tailored to buyer preferences.
- Implement a range of security signals at the checkout to build trust and confidence with new buyers.
- Tune up and optimise their checkout to ensure a flawless digital experience.
Better get started then, eh? At Hokodo, we have the B2B expertise and the technological solutions that can help you to optimise your checkout for success in 2024. Get in touch to learn more.