What Do Little Elephants And B2B Ecommerce Have In Common?

December 6, 2016

When B2B companies strategize to improve the user experience (UX) of their ecommerce site, it is easier said than done. B2B sites have complex products and multifaceted business requirements that need to be analyzed during the UX development. If these are not carefully considered throughout the storefront, it can create a clunky experience for the user. Zaelab has consulted on many successful launches and has gathered important insights that will help craft new user experiences for your customers.

Find the ‘Little Elephants’ on Your Site

In my experience with our B2B clients, the most effective approach is to use an agile method for UX development. This process allows for quick solution development based on customer needs, allows users to test the new features on the site, and gives your team the ability to collect feedback for future iterations. The key in successful agile development is to find small changes that will make a large difference. Gartner quotes, “Research shows that for those with patience, making a thousand small changes in the CX [customer experience] can have a big impact. Not all of these small changes are equal, however. Go in search of ‘little elephants’ — small ideas that will have a big impact.” (Gartner, 5 Innovation tips to improve the customer experience)

A site revamp is a large undertaking. It requires a significant amount of resources for research, design, decisions, and implementation. With guidance, the process can be broken down into “little elephants” – components that can quickly be iterated and launched within one agile sprint. The sprint should be focused around a persona (or set of personas) and a user need. When a client sets up a way to collect continuous feedback from customers, they receive valuable information about improvements, features, and pain points in the updated UX. This allows for the next sprint to be changed or iterated based on that feedback and helps prioritize future user experience improvements in your backlog!

Be Led by Your Customers’ Needs, Not Technology’s Possibilities

Your customers are the same people who shop on Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, Apple, and other innovative B2C sites. These sites are constantly driving new features and raising the bar for all commerce experiences. These frequent encounters make customers crave better UX in all their digital experiences; including B2B purchasing. Depending on the nature of your site, you can adapt and innovate upon modern ecommerce features with some creativity. The complexity of these features increases within the B2B space. It requires a team with expertise in analyzing and adapting a unique UX to fit your business’ needs.

As an example, many B2C sites use a Product Review tool for customers to submit a review of a product they purchased to help prospective customers make an informed decision. Amazon sets the standard for product reviews – offering customers the ability to review products, ask questions, rate other reviews as helpful or not, and sort reviews by various criteria. Product reviews create an engaging customer experience and are gaining traction across B2C retailers. Zaelab has found that Q&A has great success in the B2B space. A Q&A section provides a place for users to ask a question that might not be obvious on the product detail page (“is Part X compatible with Part Y?”). It could also be beneficial to have a feedback portal for compliments or complaints that your Customer Service team can monitor. In short, when discussing new features for your site, make sure the solution is valuable and relevant for your customers to avoid a clunky and hard-to-navigate user experience.

Show Rather Than Tell

Imagine sitting in your living room watching a classic car advertisement. It shows a beautiful person driving a new car in an equally stunning landscape while you are sitting on your broken-in sofa. The flashy ad may get your attention, but actually visiting the dealership and test driving the car is a completely different experience; you can feel the acceleration, smell that new leather car smell and listen to the top-of-the-line sound system.

It is difficult for users to visualize their new site or a new feature based on a static wireframe or screenshot. When you are testing or discussing a new feature, it should be an interactive process to make sure you are receiving that “test drive” experience. When Zaelab develops a new feature, we try to make the environment as close to “real life” as possible. During an initial demo, everyone’s attention to detail is heightened. Any difference between the ‘real’ site and the demo environment is magnified and can distract from the user experience improvements.

During the user experience portion of our recent project for Sonny’s Direct, a B2B carwash manufacturer, we used an interactive HTML site during the first UX Sprint demo to deliver a hands-on design so Sonny’s team could sit in the driver’s seat and interact with the site. When they provided feedback during our demonstrations, we utilized rapid prototyping to update the design quickly and collect comments on each iteration. This process was the most efficient way to give the user the “test drive” experience, make improvements based on feedback, and gain approval on the solution from users.

Our Roadmap Roundup

Throw out the blank slate and don’t bite off more than your users can chew. Technology today can provide a solution to any problem – problems we didn’t even know we had. When it comes to user experience, keeping your site focused on your customer’s needs takes precedence over too many bells and whistles.

The elephant in the room isn’t always a bad thing. Finding the “little elephant” in user experience iterations is the best way to make impactful changes.

Experiencing is different than seeing. Allowing your customers to go into a site, play with it, act as a user, and interact with features and improvements will provide superior feedback making the overall experience better for both parties.

Take the guesswork out of B2B benchmarking.

Get a pulse on the effectiveness of your B2B customer experience. Zaelab offers a complimentary benchmarking service to evaluate your B2B digital experience against direct and industry competitors.

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