Frequently we hear B2B clients tell us that they want their shopping experience to be like that of Amazon.com. Is it just because they are #1 on the Internet Retail Top 500 list?
Initially, our first reaction was always to be a bit surprised. After all, the overall user experience at Amazon is not exactly intuitive. Unless you are looking for a specific item, general window shopping can be overwhelming. Try looking a toaster and you’ll see what I mean. Were it not for the search navigation on the left (showing that toasters appear in 24 departments, 1587 of them in Home and Garden alone) I’d probably drop right off to another site.
So then what are they looking to replicate?
It’s the product detail page. Getting this page right is the Holy Grail for product marketing. As the journey to arrive at a purchase decision is becoming ever more non-linear (great article on this at McKinsey Quarterly), losing the customer in the process is not a good thing. Amazon clearly understands that digital gives choice and is taking a One Size Fits All approach by throwing every e-commerce tactic possible at you on one really long page
- Social commerce: shareable lists, ratings & reviews, consumer images, product discussion forum
- Cross selling: related accessories, service plans and commonly bought items
- Competitive shopping: Price checks from other retailers
- Pricing and Availability: Quotes for shipping and expectations on when the product will ship and be at your door
This is fantastic for the everyday B2C consumer, but it’s not the highly personalized experience that your B2B buyer is increasingly expecting. An even bigger challenge is how to provide this enriched product detail page when you may have hundreds of thousands of SKUs. Though do you need to do this for every single product on the site? Probably not. So take a tiered approach: identify the bare minimum that every SKU requires and build up to your flagship products – the ones that will carry the most information.
- Long Tail: These could include your drop ship and infrequently purchased SKUs. Just make sure you have the basic specs, contract pricing and details on related products
- Middle of the Pack: In addition to lead time & availability, provide technical documents, product literature and promotions. These should all be automatic if your ERP and master data worlds are in harmony
- Flagship Products: Here’s where you go over the top. Video libraries, product registration, testimonials, social commerce, product RSS feeds and related blogs should all be easy to find
Finally, use this approach to identify the right governance model for these pages. There will be a lot of cooks in the kitchen for the flagship pages. Who is responsible for updates? Who can approve changes? How often do they happen? Once you have all of this in place, start looking at your goal differently. Rather than chasing after Amazon, your competitors should be chasing after you.
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