Guest Blog: eCommerce for Manufacturers Part 3: Customer Experience

The third and last in the series on "eCommerce for Manufacturers" from Alex Salvador of Drupal Commerce Delivery Partner The Jibe


Following up on our Sales & Marketing post from last week, today we examine how to optimize customer experience on a manufacturing eCommerce site. 

eCommerce will enrich the customer experience through expediting sales and providing the flexibility to purchase anytime, anywhere. Yet it is critical to keep users on track with an intuitive interface, especially when you are transitioning existing customers–often businesses–to the new online platform. Customers expect a simplified experience that benefits them, so a well thought out user interface, meaningful navigation and useful content have to be a top priority. 
 
 

Customer Service 

 
More often than not, manufacturing selling involves business to business (B2B) sales. Historically, selling in this environment did not require highly sophisticated digital tools. However, as technology has evolved for consumers, the more technology savvy ones are increasingly demanding a higher level of digital service. 
 
Purchasing a quality product through a consistently reliable seller is critical to the success of their own business. Ease of use and excellent support and customer service are crucial in order to maintain the relationship. eCommerce introduces an opportunity to bring a better customer experience to users. 
 
A customer relationship management system (top-of-the funnel) combined with a customer success management system (customer health and up-sell opportunities) will help you attend to your new and existing customers. 
 
Some other tips to consider: 
 
  • Ensure that your contact information is easy to find on the homepage.
  • Provide a reason for your clients to come back such as a section on tips or education material.
  • Send a follow up email to confirm all orders (and bring customers back with a follow-up promotion).
  • Sales Representatives should confirm orders that are especially large or include unique shipping.
  • Consider the possibility of incorporating live chat to aid the order process.
 

User Interface

 
The user interface (UI) is the web page. The layout of the UI controls how the visitor achieves their purpose on the site. Therefore, it needs continuity and flow, avoiding all unnecessary clutter and employing clear calls to action. 
 
Search is one of the main ways customers discover content, and is part of an overall strategy for good usability. A site-wide filtered search system (think Amazon.com) will allow users to find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently, by narrowing down their search results to a selected few items matching their criteria. 
 
As always, consistency of the interface across customer research, discovery, and purchase is necessary. Each page should be branded in a consistent manner and, ideally, on the same domain. In order to promote trustworthiness - and arguably ease of management for the store owner - the user should not be redirected to a bolt-on store to complete their purchase.  
 
Your product pages are integral to closing the deal. Large, professional product images communicate the quality of your product. Clear language and obvious calls-to-actions (CTAs) are extremely important to conversion. Optimize the product page heading with precise SEO keywords, and provide the necessary product details to the right hand side of the image. Include a details tab that gives more extensive product information so that users can go deeper after a quick initial assessment. 
 
Employing social proof by adding product reviews or customer testimonials to your product pages can improve conversion. If you use the latter, make sure you can back them up; this means including names, photographs, and very precise references to how they benefited from your products and services. Security badges and logos count here, but if you can, choose a select few that are recognizable. Some trusted logos include: McAfee, VeriSign, and PayPal. 
 
Personalization automatically improves the shopping experience. Cross-sells and up-sells: ‘you may also like’ and ‘people who purchased this product also purchased,’ are courteous marketing tools that can make customer decisions quicker and easier. In turn, transparency around shipping details and return policies (if applicable) is important to buyers of manufactured goods, so put your policies in plain view. 
 
 

Mobile 

 
Now, more than ever, the ability of users to access your site on a mobile device is a must. It is crucial that site users are able to achieve things on the go: finding a location, investigating product reviews, or completing a quick order. Due to limited real estate, mobile eCommerce (or m-commerce) demands an above average search mechanism and a smart navigation. 
 
Tablets are a common tool in the modern corporate office, and optimizing your site to respond to different devices and browsers ensures a seamless online commerce experience. An attractive, responsive site on tablet will potentially increase the size of the order. Research has shown how shopping on a tablet can improve sales through the endowment effect, giving the user the sensation of both value and ownership. 
 
When it comes to customer experience on a manufacturing website, robustness does not have to mean a compromise in refinement. Drupal Commerce provides the tools to create custom eCommerce solutions that are sleek, usable and highly effective. 
 
Thanks for tuning in! Check out The Jibe Blog for more eCommerce insights. And check out some interesting stats about mobile
 
 
The Jibe
 
 
jibeguest's picture
VP Sales at The Jibe Multimedia
Posted March 24, 2014

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