Last updated on 15th November 2021
If you’ve spent any time learning about personalization for B2B eCommerce websites, you’ve probably come across the term 'product recommendation engines.
So how do you personalize product recommendations to your online customers and why is it important? Let’s find out!
Remember - people buy products emotionally and justify their purchases logically.
You enter an apparel store and ask the shopkeeper if an item is available. The shopkeeper will ask you a few questions to understand your preferences and suggest a range of items that you would like.
You might even pick up a few more things out of your price range because it’s 'the latest trend' or there’s a '1+1 offer' on select items.
Now take this scenario and think of how you can recommend products to your customers on your online B2B eCommerce store.
Most people think B2B purchase decisions are more logically driven as compared with their B2C counterparts. I disagree.
Don’t forget that B2B buyers are also people.
A study by CEB found that 71% of buyers who see a personal value like an opportunity for career advancement or pride in their B2B purchase will end up buying the product or service.
Emotionally driven content supported by logic is key to every B2B purchase decision. Show them a potential business outcome or a personal benefit and it will influence their purchase.
A product recommendation engine uses a set of algorithms to provide users a visual representation of products that best match their buying interests.
Most B2B buyers now prefer to 'do it themselves’. Studies reveal:
67% of the B2B buying journey is done digitally.
A typical B2B buyer goes through 57% of the buyer’s journey process before engaging with a potential supplier’s sales rep.
And so having relevant content that addresses the buyer on your website is more important now than in older times.
Below I’ve listed down seven touchpoints where you can add personalization to your B2B eCommerce site and enhance your buyer’s shopping journey and sales.
When a B2B customer enters your website, you can recommend 'Top Products' that most resonate with their buying interests. Having an AI-powered recommendation engine can help you do this.
You can also show customers revisiting your website - a 'Recently Viewed' carousel that shows them the items in their shopping cart or products that they search for in your website’s search bar or product pages they previously viewed.
The home page is where you can also suggest personalized product recommendations on different categories like what’s on sale, sponsored ads, trending products, bestsellers, and so on.
Essentially, a B2B buying decision involves a larger transaction and the purchase directly affects a specific business outcome. This means the purchase can either be the 'need-of-the-hour' or it could be something that 'is likely to improve the business'.
Adding personalization to a visitor’s home page will make your customer feel confident that they will find what they’re looking for and also have a great shopping experience on your eCommerce platform.
Based on your B2B buyer’s browsing history and previous purchase, personalized search engines suggest the best products in the category looked for. It is also very useful in targeting 'long tail' product sales.
A personalized search recommendation will be effective since the customer is looking for a specific item and is likely to make a purchase.
The results page is also a great place to recommend 'new products' or show a 'custom product display' that shows items specific to the demographics, locations, gender, and age of the buyer.
Consider two different B2B buyers looking for office lighting. A buyer from the United States will only see suggestions that meet the minimum standard set for office lighting by the US government. But a buyer from the UK would see different office lighting suggestions.
Adding 'best sellers' having the highest customer ratings and reviews for the same search category will also work wonders here.
Curated search results create a positive buying experience keeping your customers engaged and coming back for more.
Promote upsells and cross-sell on your B2B eCommerce store with 'Related items' and 'Trending items' in the category.
You can also use collaborative filtering like 'Customers Who Bought / Viewed This…' which was first introduced by Amazon. It shows your customers what most buyers bought or viewed after viewing the current product.
Showing your customers related products is a great way to boost sales via the cross-selling technique.
When your customer is on the cart page, you can show similar products that can be purchased together with the 'Frequently bought together' engine.
You can also recommend products that are like or even better than the products in the cart by using 'Related items', 'Latest products' or 'Bestsellers' to the cart page.
This kind of recommendation will be effective since the customer is willing to purchase and is likely to accept your suggestion.
This is where you create a lasting impression on your customer. Now that your customer is almost making a payment, make them feel appreciated with a reward.
Reward programs often increase return visitors and can also increase sales. You can do so by giving away discount coupons, transaction-based discounts, referral rewards, or providing free shipping for items worth more than a specific amount in the cart.
Consider a scenario where you offer a flat 25% discount to customers who have shopped for $1000 dollars and above.
A customer with a cart value of $750 dollars for office supplies is more likely to add items worth $250 for items in the same category.
You can use personalized product recommendation engines like 'Items also purchased…' to display office supplies priced around $250 for your customer to make that last move towards the reward.
Not only will your customer remember a happy purchase (read it as a discount purchase) on your eCommerce site but may also add last-minute items and increase their cart value to claim a reward. This increases both customer engagement and sales.
Losing customers sounds disheartening, but the truth is, not everyone buys on the first go. Most B2B visitors gather a lot of information before making a purchase, as they may have to report costs and be able to justify them to their seniors and team members.
This is where a good content marketing strategy can really help them.
Consider the different buyer personas of customers visiting your B2B eCommerce store:
Is the person a decision-maker of the company?
Or does this person have to compel or convince his/her senior to make a purchase?
Who is most likely to make an immediate purchase and why?
How is the mindset of a CEO or a CMO different from a junior manager?
Think like them and create compelling content for your products.
What is a long-term business goal that your product can achieve for your B2B buyer?
How can they boost their sales this quarter?
Is there a need for certain items because of the Coronavirus disruption?
Can buying a product give their company an edge over a competitor?
After evaluating different scenarios where a B2B buyer is more likely to convert, would you then recommend the same products and the same content copies to both personas? Definitely not!
Consider sending automated, but highly personalized emails with compelling subject lines to remind your customer that they’ve left something in their cart.
You can add personalized product recommendations like 'Trending Products' that are highly relevant to buyers in similar industries and also team it up with limited period offers to create urgency.
Highly relevant product recommendations with compelling content can help you retain your customers. You can also add a blog link to your email that talks about that product or add real product reviews from customers.
This will help build trust in the product and also give your buyers the confidence they need to make that B2B purchase decision.
It can get overwhelming to choose the right product recommendation engine for every page in your B2B eCommerce store. What you can do is create different conversion funnels for different buyer personas.
Build on the data you gather how different users interact with your website and test your product recommendation engines for different scenarios. This will give you a basic understanding of what works and what needs improvement.
You can use various automation tools to simplify bulky processes.
Apart from this, you can also:
Run a thorough competitor analysis
Optimize your product pages for design, SEO, and content
Create customer profile groups, discover their pain points and interests
Build content and headlines that evoke emotion
Develop customer-loyalty programs to show you value your customers
Introduce partial payments, save card details, and other payment options
Share personalized emails to your different buyer groups
Regularly monitor your website for speed, accuracy, and mobile responsiveness
Personalized product recommendations help, and in today’s digital world, they will act as an enormous boost to your eCommerce initiatives. The good thing is - creating a personalized product recommendation for your B2B eCommerce online store is not that hard.
eCommerce platforms like ewiz commerce offer these AI-powered product recommendation engines as part of their eCommerce platform.
Once you have a recommendation engine in place, you can personalize every aspect of your store to match the different stages of your customer’s buying journey.
The key is to keep experimenting and letting your AI recommendation engine evolve as you go.