shopping carts at night
PHOTO: Clark Young

If you think BOPIS sounds like a mouthwatering Philippine specialty or that BORIS was a character in an old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, chances are you haven’t talked with a retail marketer recently.

In fact, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pay In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store) are two of the hottest trends in B2C retail, and ones that B2B marketers should be finding ways to adapt to their own brands.

Webrooming and Showrooming Increase Sales

Over time, customers have come to expect that websites will confirm whether a product or service is in-stock and available for purchase. What’s more, mobile devices have made that process dynamic, allowing customers to view such site content anywhere, whether from a store aisle or the lobby of a B2B vendor.

BOPIS and BORIS evolved as natural extensions of webrooming, when a customer researches a product online and ultimately buys it in a store and showrooming, which is the opposite — comparing prices and researching features in-store before ultimately purchasing online.

Translating B2C Tactics to B2B

Although brick-and-mortar retailers were initially lukewarm about webrooming and showrooming, industry studies have revealed that cross-channel researching and purchasing can actually boost sales.

To maximize the potential of the multi-channel experience, marketers must guide the tech experience when customers are in-store. For example, many retailers, have added interactive touch screens to store displays to provide more information about their products.

The Lines Between Online and Onsite Are Blurring

But while retailers may have a number of tactic up their sleeves, B2B teams may not even be aware enough of these tactics to try them, much less integrate them into their content strategies.

Yet because tactics that blur the lines between digital and brick and mortar are driving a key shift in how people interact with businesses in general, B2Bs would do well to pay attention. As cross-device usage increasingly becomes the customer norm, B2B marketers have tremendous opportunities to rethink how their brands connect with consumers across channels and devices.

Tracking Lead Generation and Brand Advocacy 

A good starting point for B2B companies is to remember two relevant information perspectives — lead generation or brand advocacy. By establishing those as key objectives of a B2B website, analytics reports can then measure activities such as downloads and visits to specific pages associated with meeting them. 

From the standpoint of analytics reporting, those goals can further be expressed in terms of conversion rate metrics, namely the percentage of visits during which a given goal activity occurs. 

Turning Analytics Insights Into B2B Strategies

So a good topline analysis would indicate how well a website is meeting the goal of converting visitors to the next step on the purchase journey.

Then, to gain deeper insights, marketers should consider some of the following reporting tactics: 

  • Review the B2B sales cycle to see where benefits typically associated with retail in-store activity such as speed, convenience and lower costs can be emulated. Doing so can lead to ideas to better manage B2B customer along the sales cycle, such as planning webinars so that B2B team members can response more personally and thoroughly to potential customers.
  • If a B2B company has multiple locations, interactive screens — perhaps using a chatbot — can be used to centralize information across all locations so that visitors meeting at one location can have access to the resources of the entire company.
  • Use analytics reports to pay attention to how customers consume B2B information online. For example, repeat visitor session behavior can guide decisions for what new content and even new business ideas to develop next.
  • Noting the number of sessions, time in session, and comparing traffic results against industry standard for metrics can help to reveal whether certain content is performing well and save time deciding what areas should be improved.   
  • B2B marketers can also use the Google Customer Journey tool to note when people are reviewing different types of media and gauge preferences. I explain the value of that tool in this CMSWire post.

Making More Cohesive B2B Connections

Customers are finding new ways to research businesses online prior to making their purchases. Witness the growing popularity of virtual assistants, for example.

With such changes taking place on the B2C landscape, B2B firms can put many of the same techniques to work to enhance their own sales efforts. Finding ways to make more cohesive connections between your B2B company’s online and onsite experiences just could become the deciding factor that leads to your next lucrative deal.