Customer expectations: the checkout process

checkout process
With the changing expectations of the consumer, it can be difficult to identify those areas which require attention on your eCommerce site. Here, we look at the checkout process, and the crucial differences (and growing similarities) of the B2B and B2C checkout experiences.

The customer is changing. This is the ever-popular mantra repeated by every social media marketer, every eCommerce expert and every sales team no matter what the industry. The consumer wants more than ever before and we need to keep up. I’ve referred to this idea myself, but there seems to be some confusion over exactly how the customer is changing and how we can react to it.

Here, I’ll discuss these marketplace trends with a specific emphasis on the checkout process only, in order to try and breakdown exactly what differences we are looking at in terms of the buyer perspective, and how that differs currently across B2B portals and B2C environments.

B2C: they want it all

The B2C experience is slowly becoming the basis for all eCommerce environments; the always-online, on-the-go, demanding consumers have moulded the eCommerce marketplace over the past few years in a way that has completely changed the definition of “engagement”. Amongst the changes are those looking at the checkout process, mainly in terms of simplicity and ease-of-use.

There are several identifying elements of a B2C checkout:

• The B2C, mobile consumer loves one-page, rapid checkout because of their increased spontaneity and increasingly on-the-go nature
• They demand a simplified, minimum number of fields, including postcode look-up to make the process even faster
• They dislike ads on their checkout page that can act as a distraction, and potentially lead to cart abandonment
• They demand guest checkout functionality so that they can decide whether or not they want to sign up later; given their on-the-go nature, they don’t have the time or inclination to fill in pages of details

Each of these features outline the needs of the modern B2C consumer: simplicity, speed of use, ease of use and functionality that caters to their spontaneity.

B2B: they’re not sure what they want

The key to understanding the B2B consumer, is realising that they want the same experience as B2C, but with the detail of traditional B2B. They want a fast and simplified experience, but with the industry twist that is crucial to the management of their clients. These customers are not frivolous or impulsive with their purchases, they are often far more predictable in buying patterns given the large order numbers they deal with, and their accounts are often as part of an employment position. However, this doesn’t mean that they want any less of the functionality or the simplified, sleek and professional look of a B2C site.

Identifying elements of a B2B checkout include:

• B2B customers want trade account functionality and customer empowerment, so that they have the ability to view their own invoices and credit limits, retaining control
• Bulk buying, rapid ordering, and one-click repeat ordering are essential to the checkout process
• As with B2C sites, they demand the minimum number of fields to complete, including postcode look-up, to make the checkout as rapid as what they experience in the B2C world

Again, the points desired here demonstrates what the B2B customer wants: ease of use, customer empowerment, resources streamlined and one-click ordering functionality. 

How can we plan for the future?

Part of preparing for the future with the checkout process lies in your content management system (CMS). You may be asking yourselves how you can make predictions, future-proof and prepare for these rapid consumer changes with something as integral as the checkout process, and the answer to that is that if you have the right CMS in place, content can easily be changed to reflect the changing trends which are going to propel you above the competition. Not only that, but it will allow you to follow the consumer journey via the rich data you can collect. From this you can spot changes in consumer behaviour in order to help you achieve this.

Why do B2B consumers want elements of B2C? I have written before about these emerging trends, but when looking at the checkout process you can identify that simplicity is the key to the similarity. They see how easy it is to order via consumer sites, and like all people of the Internet of Things, believe that this should cross over to B2B as a natural process.

For us, as eCommerce providers, it’s important that we appreciate the fact that there will always be valuable differences between the expectations in B2B and B2C environments, and these should always be considered when embarking on a new project. However, it is also crucial to consider that there is no definitive line in the sand anymore in terms of features and functionality; the savviest companies are realising this and looking to their own platforms to see how they can reflect and take advantage of it. 

The customer is changing, and so is the checkout!

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