Business-to-business (B2B) brands running ecommerce sites may not get all the fame and glory their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts receive, but for more and more businesses, ecommerce is becoming the preferred purchasing channel of choice.
As with B2C ecommerce, the advantages for businesses are clear: Customers can shop any time, from any place, at their own convenience, instead of having to go back and forth over email or waiting for an appointment with a sales rep.
But B2B is rooted in sales rep / client relations for a reason. From unique pricing to custom orders to that personal level of service that helps retain clients, most B2B customers are used to having some direct line into a business.
So how can B2B businesses marry the self-serve model shoppers are used to elsewhere with the tailored support they expect?
Live one-to-one shopping is a pretty good place to start.
With live video shopping, B2B customers are connected directly to a sales rep - whether their typical account manager or any available member of a sales or support team. Shoppers can request support on demand, or book an appointment. Reps can also send customers a link to a co-shopping experience for scheduled calls.
Together, the sales rep can co-navigate the brand’s website with a client, helping to compare products, showcase new items, or talk through details like delivery timelines, price breaks, and minimum quantities. The rep can also switch to full-screen video if they need to show a product in more detail.
During the call, both the client and the rep can add products to a shopping cart, with all existing ecommerce logic and tech stack considerations automatically applied. As long as a customer is signed into their account, they’ll see the pricing, promotions, and other custom criteria for their brand presented as well.
The best part? Customers can actually check out or complete a purchase order within a call. Anything that’s possible on a B2B ecommerce site is possible through a live shopping session.
B2B live shopping use cases
Not every client is going to need bespoke one-on-one service with every purchase they make. But offering live shopping is a no-brainer for customers looking for that little extra bit of help before they hit checkout.
Keep reading to discover 19 unique live shopping use cases for businesses selling to other businesses.
Enhance the online shopping experience for remote clients
Real talk: In a post-pandemic world, the likelihood of a sales rep making an old fashioned ‘house call’ to a business is about as practical as shooting pictures on film. Today’s client book is more distributed than ever, which can make it challenging to establish strong relationships. Live shopping creates an opportunity to have facetime that isn’t just, you know, facetime. Instead, sales reps and clients can co-shop a website and get what they need done, but in a face-to-face, social environment.
Save time searching
B2B product catalogs can be notoriously lengthy and complex to navigate on your own - enter sales rep support. Live shopping can be a simple shortcut to save clients the hassle of trying to track down the exact right product for their needs, without needing to look up cumbersome product codes or specs from previous orders.
Bring clients into a showroom or warehouse - from anywhere!
Ecommerce means B2B brands are less restricted to regional sales than they may have been in the past. It also means less opportunities for clients to see products in real life. But live shopping can help bridge the gap. Live sales reps can take clients on a tour of a showroom or warehouse to highlight products on demand and add an air of professionalism to any brand.
Drive conversions of highly technical or expensive products
B2B products tend to come with a much higher level of consideration: Both in terms of understanding what a product doe s(or doesn’t do) and the associated price tag for complex machinery, equipment, or parts. In fact, the level of consideration is so high, many shoppers may never check out on their own, rendering a B2B ecommerce site to an order fulfillment tool for sales reps only. Live video shopping can smooth things over: Giving clients the insight they need and building up their confidence to actually hit checkout.
Look at products side-by-side
Many B2B ecommerce sites function as marketplaces, serving up products from multiple suppliers. Alternatively, a single-brand company may offer different products to meet the same needs. While buying guides and feature sheets can be helpful, sometimes it’s easiest just to speak to an actual human. By having a conversation over a video platform, customers can rationalize their decision and potentially collect additional information to make a choice. This includes the ability to see the products side-by-side in real life, which shoppers can’t do otherwise.
Get custom orders going
Simple truth: Businesses, unlike consumers, demand to be treated as unique entities. And it makes sense - a single business purchase order could equal a thousand consumer orders, in terms of sheer dollars and cents. So if custom orders are a part of your business, it stands to reason that bespoke service ought to be part of the business model as well. Save customers from trying to navigate a complicated survey or widget online and instead, walk them through the custom order process on-screen while chatting over video. The entire process becomes way more streamlined, interactive, and enjoyable when you’re completing it together in real time.
Track down replacements and coordinating products
A part needs to be replaced. A system becomes deprecated. A client wants to order backups of a component. There are multiple solutions for a single need. There are many, many technical components that can go into a B2B buyer’s purchase - most of which are specific to their business, and their purchase history. B2B sales reps can get on a call to help shoppers understand what exact components or parts will work with existing systems, as well as insight into the future (or past) of a product, collection, or product line so the buyer can make the most informed decision possible - and likely even spend more.
Co-shop by appointment
Live shopping can be offered on demand, or via appointment. With appointment bookings, sales reps simply send clients a link to their live shopping experience, and they can easily co-navigate the website, chat over video, and even switch to full-screen video to view products up close or walk through a warehouse or showroom. Sales reps can still complete orders and apply custom pricing rules just as they would through a normal transaction, provided the ecommerce stack is already set up to facilitate customer-specific logic.
Look at products from any angle
B2C brands are known for investing heavily in creating compelling product imagery. Yet even the most successful brands have been known to fall short by not capturing a detail of a product that may have prevented a shopper from purchasing it in the first place. In contrast, many B2B businesses offer limited photography or rely on stock or vendor-supplied photography, opening up even more possibilities for dissatisfaction. Getting on a video shopping call gives clients the opportunity to see products up close, in comparison to one another, and from any angle.
Negotiate deals with streamlined operational efficiencies
The price on a B2B site might not be the price for every single client. Live video shopping is a great way for a sales lead and client to not only look at products, but talk through pricing, bulk orders, price breaks, shipping, complex fulfillment arrangements, and ultimately - whatever it takes to make a deal and close a sale. Businesses get the benefits of organizing orders through an ecommerce platform, without sacrificing the service and negotiation that can often take place between a sales team and client.
Talk through complex implementation or setup options
The B2B buyer is often not just thinking about acquiring products, but how those products will fit into some sort of operational need - from office furniture and lighting to mechanical components and chemical supplies. This more complex decision-making process often requires a helping hand, hence, salespeople. Offering on-demand or appointment-based live shopping gives customers the chance to review their actual specs or requirements as well as the exact products that will make the most sense for them.
Review inventory and lead times
Here’s the worst thing any B2B brand can do: Have a customer find the *exact* product they need, order it, and then discover it’s going to be an outrageously long lead time before it gets into their hands. Forgo order processing woes and be upfront with shoppers by discussing available inventory and realistic lead times over live video shopping calls. Worst case scenario: If the item a client wants isn’t going to be available in the timeframe they want it, the sales representative can at least suggest alternatives, instead of losing the sale altogether.
Suggest cross-sells or upsells
Great salespeople are experts at convincing their clients to buy more - for their client’s benefit, of course. But a self-serve ecommerce shopping experience eliminates that possibility, and in fact, may encourage customers to find ways to ‘cut costs’ or save without someone selling them on why the premium-priced product is worth investing in, or what add-ons would round out their solution best. Live video shopping means customers can get answers to their questions, and be sold on what the actual best product is for them, while also giving sales reps the opportunity to upsell more premium products or add-ons, and cross-sell related items of interest.
Provide product demos
There was a time when traveling salespeople would stop by a client’s office and show them the latest gadget or device or solution they needed for their business. While those days are far behind us, the wow factor of showing how a product works - including how easy it is to set up, use, create, or provide results - is still worthwhile. Live shopping makes it easy for sales reps to demo a product, and customers to hastily add it to their carts.
Launch and promote new products
Some of the best B2B customers are the ones that order on repeat or autopilot. Yet one of the biggest untapped opportunities for sales growth is nudging existing customers into spending more. Enter live shopping. Instead of clients simply adding their usual products to their PO’s or carts, live sales reps can present new products and talk through features in a way that’s far more engaging (and direct) than clients stumbling upon new arrivals on their own.
Review technical specs
Procurement specialists and buyers are rarely all-knowing subject matter experts. In many scenarios, they’re simply try to solve a problem, working with the parameters of budget and any existing system limitations. Salespeople are the other half of that problem-solving machine. During a live shopping call, sales reps can pull up technical specs for any product and help clients walk through them. Alternatively the client can call out a known limitation, and the rep should have the information they need to find the appropriate solution. Farewell frustrating chatbots and email tag, hello quicker conversions.
Move low tech customers from traditional purchasing methods to online
We may have noted some issues for B2B with the shift from in-person to online sales, but the reality is, there’s more advantages and benefits for businesses to adopt ecommerce than there are drawbacks. But not every buyer is going to want to come along for the ride, necessarily. Live shopping can be a way to take customers that are used to emailing or calling in their orders and get them to start shopping online. They can still connect with a ‘real person’, but transact on an ecommerce site to drive more efficiencies for everyone.
Get transported to a client’s workspace
Site visits might not be possible for many sales teams these days, but that’s no reason not to get to know a customer’s workspace. Live video shopping not only connects a client with a sales rep in a warehouse or showroom, it also gives the sales rep the chance to view the client’s office, factory, lab, or other business space. This visual feedback can help sales team members track down the exact right product for any need, setup, or space - potentially saving thousands of dollars and time in travel.
Provide support for disabled clients
Not every client is going to be able to visit a warehouse or showroom to get to know your product lineup. Live video shopping enables customers to get that ‘in-person’ experience from anywhere, including their homes, giving disabled clients the same access that any other customer may have.
Compare premium and economy-priced products
Many B2B brands cater to clients with varying budgets, which means both premium and economy-priced products are on the table. A live shopping call can help customers truly understand the difference and benefits between product quality, and give B2B brands the opportunity to upsell customers on a ‘better’ product that may pay off in terms of a longer-term investment.
How to choose a B2B live shopping platform
Livestream shopping has received plenty of buzz in retail media over the last year, but hosting a one-time webinar-style event might not make a lot of sense for most B2B brands. Instead, live one-to-one video shopping is the missing piece of the ecommerce puzzle for B2B.
The benefits of combining live shopping support plus the streamlined efficiencies of managing customer orders through an ecommerce platform are clear:
Customers can browse on their own and add products to cart before connecting with a sales rep by appointment or on demand to get questions answers
Save time and money by remotely connecting with clients in a more interactive way
Help customers check out more quickly by combining bespoke service with co-navigation
Manage orders and fulfillment more efficiently through an ecommerce platform
Build trust and loyalty through a differentiated online shopping experience
Now, as for picking a live video shopping platform, apart from offering one-to-one service, the right live video shopping platform for B2B brands should enable you to do the following:
Answer calls on demand or via appointment
Provide links to clients to join a live shopping call during a regularly scheduled meeting
Co-navigate a website with either the sales rep or client directing what pages you’re visiting
Present in full-screen video or split between website and video
Add products to cart and checkout
Apply any custom price rules or other existing site logic / technology
Allow clients to turn their cameras on and off
Create entry points on your website, or keep access restricted to by appointment only
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that GhostRetail’s one-to-one live video shopping platform does all of this and more, making it a great fit for any B2B merchant looking to up the customer experience on their ecommerce site. Want to talk? Connect with us now.