A common theme we still see in 2020 is a lack of understanding of how eCommerce fits into the overall strategy of today’s businesses.
Think of eCommerce as an extension of your inside sales – not a deviation from it.
Consider this –
The way people are shopping today – including B2B – is online. And that familiar process of researching, collecting, sharing and comparing purchase options is the same as how we shop as B2C consumers. Whether the purchase is made online or not is up to them and your business model, but where this success truly takes form is by connecting the online shopping experience with an internal, B2B sales team.
Our client, Engineered Corrosion Solutions (ECS), is ahead of many other B2B companies by connecting their business to where their customers are. They’ve adopted new strategies to combine both inside sales and eCommerce channels to drive revenue. They’ve invested in modern solutions and strategies built by Revenue River to grow their business, and because of that have seen exponential growth in sales and business efficiencies.
ECS is a Fire Sprinkler Corrosion Systems company. They sell nitrogen-based corrosion products and services with advanced monitoring capabilities to extend the life and integrity of those systems. They are the only one of their competitors that specifically focuses on corrosion solutions in the industry meaning they’ve got a niche product in a niche market, but that’s not the only thing that separates them from the others.
Their service first, small business mindset is the foundation of the brand. ECS prides themselves on their customer relationships and personable sales and service. As a small, B2B company, this is not uncommon. It’s also not uncommon for companies like these to shy away from modern digital solutions in the fear that it may pollute their reputation or their customer lifecycle.
The introduction of the eCommerce store was more of an experiment for ECS. We were first tasked with building an online store for a portion of their product library, and the rest would all continue to live on the main site. It was built to provide a portal for purchasing those products and functioned very much like a separate site. Not a lot was done besides standing it up to see the engagement it would generate.
With minimal resources, we saw 20x ROI in eCommerce sales alone in the first year.
Because the store was an almost completely separate entity from their main site, accessed through a ‘shop’ link in the main navigation with a different subdomain, to return to the main site, there was only one link in the main navigation of the store. This created two very isolated and disconnected experiences.
Due to their policies with different vendors, pricing also had to be hidden from all product pages and only visible for approved customer accounts – but only for the products in the Shopify store. By isolating the store, limiting the available products, and gating the pricing and purchase-ability of these products it created the opposite of a frictionless shopping experience.
All of which was a result of the quick turn around we facilitated to test this environment. Now that it's demonstrated value and we have measurable engagement to understand high priority opportunities, we began building a strategy to expand this channel and further integrate it with their operations.
Revenue River is amazing to work with and an asset to our company! If you're looking for a marketing company, go with them - you will not be disappointed!
With our first experiment a success, it was clear that if we were to truly engage their customers through an eCommerce store we had to that unconventionally.
Our goal was to use the eCommerce channel to drive both new and repeat business with online and inside sales.
To begin, we took all of their products and organized them within the store. This meant that all their products – whether available for online purchase and fulfillment or not would be housed in the same directory to easily view and shop the entire product library.
Because of the store’s subdomain and transitioning of the URLs, it was important to us that we maintain as much of their SEO integrity as possible. To do so, we followed a very strategic approach in building the redirects, meta data, site maps and the indexing of the site pages. We dive deeper into these strategies at the end of this page.
To still limit online purchase-ability to certain products, we implemented a short pop up form on each page with a ‘contact sales’ CTA instead of an add to cart button. This pushed a hidden value with the products name to give the sales team context into their inquiry. This is also available on every page when the customer isn’t logged in to the store since pricing and purchase-ability are turned off.
Finally, to give a sense of cohesiveness between both the Shopify store with the subdomain, and their main website, we reorganized the header menus to include all necessary decision points for each and made them consistent. Now, when a customer visits the store pages, there is no loss of options back to the either side of their site and doesn't feel as though they are two different experiences.
With this new structure, we eliminated interruptions within the shopping experience to keep customers engaged longer.
More engagement = more conversions.
One of my favorite things with online stores and eCommerce systems, is using them in unconventional ways. With ECS, their business provides multiple opportunities to create unique functions and experiences, and with their buy in, we continue to see the results stack up.
Continued Growth, One Step at a Time
These changes launched in the beginning of 2020. Since then – we’ve observed some great results as well as more opportunities to continue developing out this non-traditional eCommerce experience.
In Q1 we saw an 150% increase in sales and are continuing to see that trend grow as time continues even with the current Covid-19 impact affecting others.
Using a phased approach like this, we’re able to examine the impact incrementally to course correct priorities and create the most effective solution with very calculated resource allocation. Our most important metrics to track was our main objective for driving new, quality SQLs through an improved shopping experience.
In its first 3 months, the blended eCommerce strategy generated 73 online store accounts and sales inquiries from NEW customers.
What we found most encouraging was that these leads had a much quicker sales cycle and response time in addition to a much higher sales conversion rate compared to the average.
Leads generated through eCommerce sales channel are converting to a sale at 15-20%, and that number continues to rise.
What this information confirms is the value of three very important marketing strategies.
One of ECS’s main focuses over the years has been the SEO success we've culminated for them, and because of that it was a major focal point of ours to effectively transition these site pages without depleting those results.
It's a valid concern when developing a new digital storefront - will the transition cost the website signification traffic? When considering using a subdomain, a common practice with Shopify and other eCommerce platforms, the change can shake your standing in search results.
Due to the fact that Google will take some time to register these new pages, understand them, and test their placement on search engine results page to see how users interact with the new content, websites often lose traffic in the short term when they make a subdomain transition. With that in mind, there are strategic tactics your marketing and development teams can take to help mitigate the potential drop in traffic.
Here are a few tactics to help mitigate any traffic loss to your website:
For companies looking to grow your business incrementally with eCommerce alongside your results, there’s no better time to invest in these strategies with Revenue River. To learn more about other success we’ve generated for our clients or your own opportunities to expand your eCommerce strategies, visit our eCommerce services page.