6 Ways to Onboard Customers to Your B2B eCommerce Portal
Got your B2B online store all set up? Here are a few tips on how you can make your business’s transition to digital easy for your customers.
Your B2B eCommerce portal is set up, and you’ve put the “Yes, we’re open” sign out. Now you’re anxiously ready for your customers to start filling the aisles of your new store. But here’s the thing — in the online world when your storefront is made of pixels and measured in bytes, getting your customers there happens a little differently.
Think about this: you would naturally welcome a customer with a smile, right? And you’d probably offer to help them find what they’re looking for. In the exciting world of eCommerce, this welcoming process is called onboarding.
Let’s look at a few tips on how you can make the transition to digital easy for your online B2B customers.
What is customer onboarding and why does it matter?
Customer onboarding is a structured and methodical way of briefing your customers about your B2B eCommerce portal. It’s intended to show your customers around your storefront using specific content, while focusing on its main tools and key functions. Ultimately, this process is all about supporting your customers as they learn how to navigate your online B2B store.
Why is customer onboarding important? Numerous studies have shown that the first experience your customers have with your online service sets the tone for your entire relationship with them. In fact, successful onboarding can significantly increase customer profitability. This means that a poor and confusing customer onboarding experience has the potential to actually harm your business, whereas a smooth onboarding process will help lay the foundation for your business’s overall growth and sustainability.
6 Best Practices for Successful Customer Onboarding
Effective customer onboarding is a great tool to boost both customer satisfaction and revenue. And though it may seem like a mountain of workload at the outset, we’ve compiled a few tips that will make the transition easy for your B2B customers.
1. Start with a word.
If you recently switched to online eCommerce, be sure to let your customers know about this new method for receiving their orders. So, go ahead, and notify them using an introductory email. Are you more of a people person? Then give your customers a call to share the exciting news, or ask your sales reps to personally spread the word to them.
2. Explain the process clearly.
When you’re sharing your news with customers about your transition to online ordering, be sure to give them a thorough breakdown of the new ordering process before actually logging them in to your eCommerce portal. For example, let them know that you will be sending them a link to your online B2B store, along with their username and password, via email or text message. Then, remember to follow up on those messages with your customers to ensure they were received.
3. Show off your goods.
One of the most effective and engaging ways to ensure a successful customer onboarding experience is to set up a demo of your online ordering portal with your customers. This demonstration can be performed by you or by your sales reps.
By personally walking your customers through your B2B eCommerce platform, they will feel more comfortable using it because they were able to explore this new territory with you by their side. The demonstration process will also give you a chance to showcase to each customer specific features and functions that will be particularly useful to them. This is a great way of showing them that you truly understand their specific needs as well as how your new online storefront can fulfill those needs.
You can also use the demo opportunity to showcase a specific feature of your B2B eCommerce portal that might be of particular interest to your customers and then explain to them how they can use it to their benefit.
4. Have your customer place a test order.
Whether you spent some time personally demonstrating your B2B eCommerce platform to your customers or sent them instructions on how to use it by email, how do you know for sure that they understood the basic functions of your online portal? This is where verification of your onboarding process comes in.
One thing you can do is ask your customers to place a test order so that they can experiment with the new online ordering process. Another idea would be to place a test order for them and let them modify it on their own.
Either way, verifying your onboarding process has benefits for both you and your customer. And here’s why: for you customers, verification can significantly boost their confidence when ordering online. For you and your business, verification is key to improving your onboarding material and processes. And, considering that successful onboarding can indeed increase your sales and revenue, it is definitely worth investing your time and effort in.
5. Convert a few offline orders to digital for your customers.
Even with personally demonstrating your online B2B store to your customers, you may still see that some of them are refusing to let go of their offline ways. You wouldn’t let a man drown in the (digital) sea, right? So, to help your customers get accustomed to your new B2B eCommerce platform and effectively convert them to digital, you can upload their open offline orders directly to your platform and then let them take it from there. This is one of the most effective ways for your buyers to get their feet wet and for you to turn onboarding of less digital-savvy customers into a breezy and smooth experience.
6. Test the process out.
Even though the customer onboarding process may be unexplored territory to you and leaving you feeling a bit anxious, we understand because we have been through it. And we have learned a valuable lesson: test it till you make it.
Although setting up your onboarding process requires a little time, effort and confidence, the pay off is that you get your feet wet in the deep blue, unknown ‘customer onboarding sea’ by introducing your online B2B portal to your closest customers and, in return, you get their feedback on your process. In this way, you can start building on your confidence and understand more clearly what the experience is really like for your customers and what they are likely to look for, like, or find difficulty with.
Offer the "perfect" incentive.
Now that you’ve successfully completed your customer onboarding process, how can you ensure that your old customers will immediately start using your shiny, new B2B eCommerce platform to place their orders? A great way to drive the transition to digital ordering is to create incentives for your buyers and encourage them to take the leap into your B2B digital world. For example, ‘save on shipping’ or a ‘special discount’ can act as the perfect incentive. Another option is a reward in the form of a ‘special offer’ or maybe a discount coupon. These are all effective ways to encourage your customers to use your B2B online store, and as such, they can accelerate usage of your eCommerce portal once the onboarding is complete.
Remember, onboarding can be a very powerful weapon for increasing sales and building a strong and solid relationship with your customers. Plan your onboarding process right, train your buyers, provide them with the support they need, and they will learn how to swim and you will have nothing to fear!