Research Brief: How B2B Companies are Transitioning to Formal eCommerce Personalization Strategies

Note to reader: all charts represent segments of response data, the rest of which can be found in the final report once published. (October, 2018).

eCommerce has become a high performing channel among manufacturers and distributors. Now, these companies are taking an aggressive approach to personalization as they seek to upgrade their current eCommerce strategies and infrastructures. But while most companies are prioritizing multiple dimensions of personalization, almost half are yet to formalize those plans as organizational strategies.

B2B eCommerce is driving sales success for 63% of companies. These manufacturers and distributors claim B2B eCommerce either performs well among their top sales channels or it is their highest performer. Almost all manufacturers and distributors consider B2B eCommerce a growth area for their business.

But while all companies are taking eCommerce personalization seriously, the same businesses are split practically 50/50 in terms of whether or not they have a documented personalization strategy.

Most have applied personalization strategies, including providing customers with different products based on preferences (58%) and simplifying operations to streamline processes and drive profitability (56%) with or without fitting them into an overarching strategy.

Leveraging data is a key part of most companies' personalization processes, indicative of their maturity. In fact, leveraging data, analytics, and testing contribute to optimizing personalization for more companies than any other factors measured.

This includes filtering data to analyze which segments have the greatest demand and profit potential so that manufacturers and distributors can create more seamless, personalized experiences on their eCommerce websites. Many more are turning data into stories for marketing needs, creating interactive experiences, and predicting how or what their customers will buy, among others.

And while conversion rate remains the most popular measure of success for personalization (58%), most companies prioritize more advanced metrics of engagement like length of visit (55%) and lifetime value calculation (53%).

Soon these companies will integrate engagement strategies and metrics across other channels like social media, which is already gaining traction among some respondents. They are adopting more sophisticated segmentation and personalization as well, integrating those factors into the functionality of their websites. 

As one respondent observes: "Use of local language, local logistics, local support, and recommendations based on locality are a few things that come to mind when planning a personalization strategy. We have implemented far more things in our strategy, and frankly it depends on companies and the types of products that the company sells."

B2B companies managing a range of customer needs are more inclined to acknowledge them as the creation of a personalization strategy begins. In our upcoming 2018 report, Personalization: The New Foundation of B2B Sales, we'll look more at companies' levels of maturity and the complexities of formalizing a personalization strategy in light of evolving needs.

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