Whether B2B, B2C, or B2B2C, eCommerce configurators built with the customer experience in mind will come out on top as we dive into the new year.
Simply put, they need to be easy and intuitive to navigate. This is especially true in industries where product complexity slows configuration and increases the chance of human error, such as B2B manufacturing.
Before you rush into implementing one, remember that no two B2B eCommerce solutions are alike. And to provide a frictionless experience for those who matter most, it’s essential to consider some key points.
Follow along as we reveal 8 of these best practices for eCommerce configurators in our ever-evolving, customer-centric world.
- Enable dynamic product views (3D, VR, AR)
- Display the steps in the process
- Allow customers to save their progress
- Allow customers to start from scratch
- Be transparent with pricing
- Allow self-service
- Have a mobile-friendly configurator
- Optimize for user experience
How to Deliver a B2B eCommerce Experience
Executives shouldn’t think of eCommerce as "just another sales channel". Learn how this massive shift in B2B buying is shaping how companies win or lose.
8 Best Practices for eCommerce Configurators
Make sure your B2B eCommerce solution ticks all the following boxes (and then some):
1. Enable Customers to View the Product in 3D, AR, or VR
Still images no longer cut it. Customers want the option to configure their products in 3D, augmented reality (AR), or virtual reality (VR).
The biggest case in favor of more dynamic product views is to mimic the in-store or in-showroom customer experience.
With 3D interfaces, customers can add components, rotate the product, and explore all angles in real-time. With AR or VR, customers can see the product come to life right in front of them, whether through a VR headset or a mobile device.
Configurators with dynamic interfaces cut down on ambiguities surrounding final product features and appearances, which increases conversions.
In sum, more dynamic interfaces are a great way to become a digital-first B2B seller as they increase user confidence, overall customer satisfaction, and conversions.
2. Display Steps of the Process
Having a status bar is essential when dealing with highly configurable products, such as those expected in the B2B manufacturing space.
Displaying steps to completion front and center allows the customer to see how much further they have yet to go. It also allows them to backtrack as needed. Both functionalities will enable them to stay on course while configuring their products and manage their time better. Knowing how long they have left keeps them interested and boosts the conversion rate.
3. Allow Customers to Save Their Configurations Mid-Way
In the same light, ensure customers can reenter the eCommerce configurator and pick up where they left off at any time. This can be done in several ways, like by providing a link to their configuration, saving the progress on their account, or using cookies to remember their preferences.
By allowing customers to save and come back to the process later without having to start from scratch, you’re creating a more seamless experience (and like we’re continually mentioning, user experience is a big deal for eCommerce).
Furthermore, tracking incomplete orders and making this information available to your sales team makes it far easier for sales reps to provide a personalized approach (and to close a deal) when they follow up by phone or email.
4. Allow Customers to Start from Scratch
Allow your customers to reset the configuration and start over whenever they’d like.
If you don’t, they have to exit the page, which will increase your cart abandonment and bounce rates and lead to lower conversions. (Remember that the whole point is to keep users on your eCommerce configurator, interacting with your products until they purchase.)
5. Be Transparent with Pricing
Customers will leave your site if they don’t see prices, or there are hidden fees added on top of the product price when going to complete the purchase.
One of the easiest ways to be transparent with pricing is to indicate prices for features, parts, and add-ons in real-time. With this type of dynamic pricing, customers stay in complete control of the final cost of their product, which will heighten their satisfaction with your company.
Dynamic pricing is crucial in the B2B manufacturing space, as customers often have to wait days to receive a quote for their configured product. Getting prices instantly improves decision-making and enables on-the-spot purchases.
6. Prioritize self-service
Not only do customers want the capability to configure their products however they want, but they also want the power to self-serve any time, any place. So, your eCommerce configurator needs to operate at all hours of the day and on all devices.
Advanced product rules programmed into the back of the configurator (with Epicor CPQ, this is performed with the Snap rules engine) ensure that every configuration is optimized for customer satisfaction and production efficiency on the shop floor. It doesn’t matter if it’s a highly experienced sales rep or a customer with zero pre-existing product knowledge configuring the product.
7. Have a Responsive eCommerce Configurator
Mobile eCommerce sales generated from smartphones will reach $432.24 billion in 2022.
It goes without saying that if you want your B2B eCommerce solution to be digital-first, your configurator needs to operate seamlessly on any device–desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. (This is especially important for those who plan to offer AR and VR capabilities.)
8. Optimize the Overall User Experience
Lastly, you want your product configurator’s interface to be user-friendly and intuitive.
If you’re launching your first eCommerce configurator, do some user testing beforehand to see if people understand what they’re supposed to click and when and how well they progress through the flow.
Remember that any bit of friction could be a reason for cart abandonment. The goal here is to make using the eCommerce configurator feel like something that comes naturally. It should be engaging, compelling, and enjoyable.
All Best Practices Boil Down to One Thing
As you read through the eight best practices outlined above, you’ll see a trend forming: being customer-centric.
As the years roll on, B2B, B2C, and B2B2C eCommerce brands who prioritize customer experience above all else will be the ones that come out on top.
Keep this in mind as we begin to understand the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and what the 4IR means for the future of B2B eCommerce. As it becomes harder to compete and differentiate on product features and pricing, it’s those who treat their customers the best who will swim–not sink.