The Importance of a Custom eCommerce Platform to Meet Your Customers' Needs
Customer loyalty is no longer blind devotion to a friendly company in the neighborhood with whom people interact regularly. Businesses open, close and evolve into different companies quickly. New technologies render some companies obsolete. Digital B2B customers place more weight on customer service and the user experience than they do on price and quality.
Building a custom eCommerce platform is the strongest action companies can take, which allows them to quickly adjust their solution to meet client needs, which fosters customer loyalty and attract new customers. A vibrant platform is one that's fully automated, integrated and designed for mobile-friendly service. Customers have many options for buying products from global marketers, and they can easily test the waters elsewhere if unhappy.
The best way to retain customers is to make their ordering and purchasing experiences as uncomplicated as possible. That means automating all processes such as ordering, tracking deliveries, catering to buying committees and providing product research and supply chain details.
Best Practices to Strengthen Customer Loyalty
Today's actions that foster customer loyalty are different than in the past because buyers are different. Millennials want transparent information and speedy technology, partly thanks to Google and Amazon who have set the online standard.
An integrated and highly customer-centric eCommerce platform, such as Clarity eCommerce, provides the following benefits that strengthen customer loyalty:
- Portraying a strong brand is important, and it's also critical to differentiate the brand from all the online competition. That means aligning information across all sales channels to present a consistent image. Special branded catalogs can also highlight name-brand products and simplify shopping for customers who prefer branded merchandise. An integrated platform makes it easy to stay consistent, cultivate a tone of voice for different products and provide the right support materials such as logos, art, images, videos and written content.
- One report conducted by Access Development found that personalization drives loyalty for about 50 percent of customers.  56 percent of respondents also revealed that their opinion of a company would be elevated if they received a personalized offer or incentive. Personalization can be automated using an integrated eCommerce platform.
- Buying incentives can increase loyalty even for hard-nosed business buyers. Special offers, multiple pricing tiers, dynamic pricing and discounts can reward loyal customers.
Social Media and Internet Referrals
- Word-of-mouth referrals have always ranked as a top method of finding loyal customers. Today, many referrals come from social media--members sharing links, customers reading reviews and companies posting relevant content about different aspects of their products and services. A dynamic platform makes it easy to connect with existing and potential customers, monitor online chatter and respond to complaints and poor reviews.
- It's easy to create low-cost email campaigns with a custom eCommerce platform. Companies can automate the collection of user data from sign-ups, newsletter opt-in forms, free downloads and other efforts. They key to success is personalizing messages and limiting them to relevant and timely offers.
- Posting regular content to market products is a sound strategy for two reasons--it entices customers and improves any company's SEO ranking in organic searches. A B2B eCommerce solution enables staff members to post new content, upgrade catalogs and revise integrated content using an integrated CMS, or content management system. Content includes written text, catalog decryptions, videos, images, graphics and special offers.
Using Predictive Technology
Predictive technology (often referred to as “machine learning”) is one of the benefits of a first-rate eCommerce platform. Depending on the developer's skill, predictive technology can forecast market trends, buyer behavior, brand interactions, demographic attitudes toward products and regional preferences.
Predictive technology can make buying easier for customers--especially for busy B2B buyers. Companies can eliminate annoying and irrelevant ads and suggestions to improve the user experience. About 79 percent of customers abandon a website if they receive poor service or confused responses to their requests. 
Marketing Lessons from Amazon
Amazon's domination of online marketing comes from its well-organized marketing system, customer incentives and personalized marketing. Amazon focuses heavily on offering customer incentives based on their buying history and browsing habits. It's even possible to charge customers for premium services--Amazon Prime is a prime example of how to use special access programs to strengthen loyalty while satisfying customer needs.
Anticipating Clients’ Needs
Using technology, stored customer data and predictive analytics, B2B eCommerce companies can often understand what customers want before they're aware of it themselves. The right architecture and design of an eCommerce platform enables collecting and analyzing all available data to make relevant suggestions and guide customers on their buying journeys. This is something that the Clarity eCommerce learning module provides. It can be customized to “track” and “learn” many different types of online behavior (i.e. browsing, purchasing, re-ordering, viewing, etc.), and respond with customized rules. Some responses may be to alert a sales rep, or to provide a promotion, etc.
Human intelligence can be integrated by incorporating information provided by customer service staff and sales representatives. Lead information can help companies to nurture relationships and anticipate closing opportunities. About 67 percent of B2B companies discovered that nurturing leads resulted in a 10-percent increase in sales opportunities while 15 percent experienced a 30-percent increase. 
Custom Development Strengthens All Operations
The best development partners can eliminate delays, testing problems and endless troubleshooting when building a platform so that you can meet clients’ needs. Experience in B2B marketing is essential when looking for the right vendor. You can build an enterprise-level solution in a proven framework that optimizes all software, eCommerce business applications and self-service customer functions. Give Clarity a call today to discuss how we can help improve your eCommerce solution.
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