B2B E-Commerce Chicago Essentials: 4 Best Practices for Getting Started



With Chicago quickly becoming an e-commerce hub — The Chicago Tribune dubbed the city as, “the payment processor to the World Wide Web” — Chicago B2B businesses can’t afford to fall behind the competition. Chicago is ground zero for e-commerce infrastructure, including cutting edge payment processors, fraud detectors and data analysts — and local businesses are expected to keep up. As more wholesalers and brands shift to a multichannel sales model (with a major emphasis on online sales), the competition for digital same-space competition is increasing. This competition leaves no room for error: If your customers can’t find what they want quickly and easily, they’ll go elsewhere.

B2B Chicago purchasers expect a digital sales experience akin to their B2C shopping counterparts. Early winners in this space — including Staples, Autodesk and Analog Devices — are succeeding by taking a page from B2C playbooks. You can, too. Here is how:

  1. 1. Customer experience comes first with responsive design. What does it mean when we say B2B customers expect a purchasing experience similar to the B2C marketplace? It means customers can quickly find product details, compare prices, and conduct product research. Responsive e-commerce design makes this seamless experience possible. When buyers can instantly access information across multiple devices (smartphones, tablet and computers), your sales team spends less time dealing with repetitive questions and more time nurturing valuable leads.

  2. 2. Update inventory in real time. The best open source e-commerce Chicago platforms integrate real-time inventory display into product searches. When availability is low, inventory updates should note how many remain. If a product is out of stock, don’t leave buyers hanging. Include an estimated re-stock date and offer one-click opt-in email notifications for updated availability.

  3. 3. Attract new customers with pricing promotions. This tried-and-true B2C sales strategy is a natural fit for the B2B e-commerce world. Offer a “starter” or “entry level” pricing package to entice new customers to make the transition from offline to online clients. Boost sales by upselling and cross selling complementary products based on purchaser browsing history. The right e-commerce platform makes back-end management of time-sensitive pricing seamless, so you can focus on increasing sales, not deciphering e-commerce software.

  4. 4. Align sales and marketing. Studies show that failure to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies costs B2B companies 10 percent or more in revenue per year, reports Kapost. On the flip side, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales at 33 percent lower cost. What does this mean for B2B e-commerce? When building your e-commerce platform, consider how the platform will integrate with your marketing team’s current lead generation efforts. For example, how will the platform track lead conversions? If a qualified lead researches a product on your site but doesn’t make a purchase, this behavior should trigger an automated follow-up via your marketing automation software. That follow-up might be an email with more product details or, depending on the type of purchase and lead, it might even warrant a phone call from a sales rep. The right e-commerce platform will align sales and marketing efforts so no lead slips through the cracks.

Highland Solutions, a Chicago based technology solutions firm, creates powerful B2B e-commerce business solutions. Our open source  e-commerce platform empowers businesses to better track inventories, improve customer service and boost sales. Contact us today for an individualized e-commerce consultation.