How To Map the B2B eCommerce Customer Journey

A well-documented customer journey map can be your business’ compass, guiding you through the intricacies of B2B eCommerce transactions. 

Not sure where to start when planning out the customer journey for your business? Here’s how to create a customer journey map that not only reflects the uniqueness of your business, but also enhances the overall customer experience for your brand.

What Is the B2B eCommerce Customer Journey?

Broadly speaking, the B2B eCommerce customer journey is the strategic series of interactions and touchpoints a business customer goes through from discovering a product or service to making a purchase. It's the roadmap that outlines the steps and stages involved in the decision-making process.

B2B vs. B2C Customer Journeys in eCommerce

While both B2B and B2C eCommerce share similarities, they differ significantly in crucial aspects. When it comes to B2B, purchases are often larger, the decision-making process involves multiple stakeholders, and the sales cycle tends to be longer. Here's a quick breakdown of key differences:

  • Purchase Size: B2B transactions usually involve larger sums of money than B2C purchases.
  • Decision-Making: Multiple decision-makers are common in B2B, unlike the more straightforward B2C process.
  • Time to Purchase: B2B purchases typically require more time and consideration, usually due to multiple decision-makers being involved.
  • Channels: B2B transactions often span various channels, both online and offline.

Why Map the B2B eCommerce Journey?

Mapping the B2B eCommerce journey is not just a trend — it's a strategic necessity. Understanding your customer's journey helps you:

  • Identify friction points in the buying process.
  • Optimize the timing and placement of offers or next steps.
  • Uncover opportunities to simplify and enhance the customer experience.

At a time when B2B eCommerce is more popular than ever — a Gartner survey found that 83% of B2B buyers prefer ordering or paying through digital commerce — having a clear journey mapped out to capture that demand is vital.

Related: Magento B2B Guide: Features, Pricing, and Examples

Every B2B eCommerce Customer Journey Is Different

Unlike B2C, where journeys can be somewhat standardized, B2B journeys vary widely — and with 56% of B2B buyers expecting offers to be personalized, you need to pay special attention to tailoring journeys to each customer or customer segment. 

Your industry, company, and audience contribute to a unique journey, making it essential to tailor your approach based on your specific circumstances.

What the B2B Customer Journey Looks Like

While acknowledging the uniqueness of each journey, certain checkpoints are common in a B2B customer's path. The speed and significance of these checkpoints depend on the industry you operate in, company specifics, and customer characteristics. Here's a broad outline:

  • Discovery: At the discovery stage, businesses identify a need for a product or service. This could be triggered by internal challenges, market trends, or a desire to improve efficiency.
  • Research: Once the need is identified, businesses embark on a research journey. They explore available solutions, compare features, pricing, and terms. This stage often involves multiple decision-makers and requires in-depth analysis of available options.
  • Evaluation: The evaluation stage involves full consideration of options. Businesses weigh pros and cons, assessing how each solution aligns with their specific requirements. Trust-building and relationship-building also become crucial at this point.
  • Decision: Making the final decision involves selecting a specific product or service provider. Negotiations, contract agreements, and finalizing terms occur in this phase.
  • Purchase: The actual transaction takes place in this stage. Whether it's through an eCommerce platform or a more traditional method, completing the purchase is a critical checkpoint.
  • Post-Purchase: The journey doesn't end with a purchase. Post-purchase, businesses evaluate their satisfaction with the product or service. This phase often sets the stage for potential future transactions and long-term relationships.

The Common B2B Customer Journey Stages in eCommerce

While the stages listed above are what we think of as the B2B eCommerce customer journey, many have a more simplified view of the path. It generally is broken down into the following steps:

  • Awareness: Businesses become aware of a need or challenge.
  • Consideration: Exploring potential solutions and providers.
  • Decision: Making the final choice.
  • Purchase: Completing the transaction.
  • Implementation: Integrating the purchased solution into existing processes.
  • Evaluation: Assessing satisfaction and considering future engagements.

How To Map the B2B eCommerce Customer Journey

Once you have some major steps laid out for your customer journey, here’s how you can begin to map it out. Remember, you want to remain focused on personalization for your customers that will encourage them to follow the journey and convert.

Step 1: Define Your Customer Personas

Start by defining detailed customer personas. Understand the roles, responsibilities, pain points, and goals of the individuals involved in the decision-making process. This step lays the foundation for a more personalized and effective customer journey map.

Step 2: Identify Touchpoints

Pinpoint every possible touchpoint your customer may have with your business. This includes digital interactions — such as website visits and email communication — as well as offline touchpoints like conferences or sales meetings. Recognizing all touchpoints provides a comprehensive view of the customer journey.

Step 3: Outline Key Stages

Map out the key B2B customer journey stages and align them with your customer personas and touchpoints. Each stage should be clearly defined, indicating the actions and considerations at each point. Consider how the customer moves through these stages and where they may encounter challenges or opportunities.

Step 4: Analyze Customer Pain Points

Identify potential pain points within each stage of the customer journey. These could be obstacles, hesitations, or uncertainties that might hinder progress. Analyzing these pain points allows you to proactively address them, enhancing the overall experience and streamlining the journey.

Step 5: Implement Feedback Loops

Create mechanisms to gather feedback from your B2B customers at various stages of their journey — this could involve surveys, interviews, or data analytics. Use the collected feedback to refine and improve the customer journey map continuously. Feedback loops ensure your map remains dynamic and responsive to evolving customer needs.

Step 6: Update and Iterate

A customer journey map is not a one-time task, but an ongoing process. Regularly revisit and update the map based on changes in customer behavior, industry trends, or alterations in your product and service offerings. Iteration is key to maintaining a relevant and effective B2B eCommerce customer journey map.

Read More: Comparing the 6 Top-Rated B2B eCommerce Platforms in 2023

Putting Your B2B Customer Journey Into Action

With a meticulously crafted B2B eCommerce customer journey map, the real fun begins when you put it into action and adapt your marketing strategies, sales processes, and customer interactions based on the insights you gain from it. Be sure to continuously monitor and refine your eCommerce customer journey as your business evolves and customer expectations shift — being flexible is key for remaining ahead of the competition, especially since 90% of B2B buyers will go to a competitor if your digital channel fails to keep up with their needs.

By embracing the uniqueness of your B2B customer journey, you will position your eCommerce store for success in a competitive landscape.

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