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Developing a Mobile-First Mindset, Part I

Developing a Mobile-First Mindset, Part I

If your website wasn’t designed with mobile users in mind, then you could be missing out on your chunk of the more than 50% of web traffic that comes from mobile devices.


Unlike the electrical contractors of the 2000s, today’s B2B customers don’t really even want to interact with a salesperson until it’s time to close the deal (if then). Even better, those buyers would like to be able to pull out their mobile phones or tablets while standing in their jobsite trailers, research what they need, check stock, and place an order without having to talk to anyone.

This is a lot different than the traditional wholesale distribution model, where customers called, emailed, or faxed their orders over only after talking to an inside or outside sales rep about their needs. As B2B e-commerce grew in prowess, those interactions began to diminish, giving way to online and mobile ordering. Tasked with delivering a frictionless experience across whatever platform a buyer may be using at the time, electrical distributors have had to step up their games and meet those customers where they are.

A lot of those buyers aren’t on the office phone or even on their computers; they’re on their mobile phones. According to Business2Community, 52.2% of all online traffic across the globe came from mobile devices last year. Three out of four smartphone users use mobile search first for immediate needs, which means having a mobile-friendly website is essential. Here’s more proof:

  • 80% of mobile users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites quickly address any objections or concerns they have.
  • 89% of users are more likely to recommend a brand after they’ve had a positive experience with that brand on mobile.
  • 46% of buyers said they wouldn’t purchase from a brand again if they had even a single disrupted mobile experience.

As digital natives, Millennial and Gen Y buyers are especially apt to pick up their mobile devices to research products, find out delivery times, and place orders. They expect to be able to do this in a simple, streamlined way that requires the fewest possible clicks in exchange for the most useful, relevant information. If your distributorship’s website isn’t meeting those expectations, then it’s missing the boat in today’s digital selling world.

Mobile is an Imperative

With B2B e-commerce expected to reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the U.S. by 2023, improving a B2B website’s functionality on mobile platforms isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s an imperative.

“Like most consumers, B2B buyers enjoy the convenience of shopping and conducting research on their phone,” DigitalCommerce360 reports, pointing to recent Forbes Insights research that found that 66% of executives say that a mobile-friendly site makes them more likely to engage with or buy from a vendor. What’s more, 37% of executives used their phones to make business purchases between $5,000 and $100,000.

According to the survey, the idea of making a direct purchase via mobile is not necessarily a new one for executives—more than two-thirds say they are comfortable with using their mobile devices for personal purchases. In addition, a majority, 52%, have no qualms about making business-related purchases on a mobile device, with half of them making purchases in the $1,000 to $10,000 range from their phones.

Another 18% made purchases of greater than $10,000. “We’ve made supply purchases. We’ve paid vendors via PayPal, right off the tablet,” Denis O’Dwyer, CEO of Wide Open Spaces, told Forbes. “When they send us an invoice, it’s just a one-click pay affair.”

Matt Benevento, senior SEO specialist for Geek Powered Studios in Austin, Texas, works with a lot of B2B distributors in the industrial space, where giving customers a mobile experience is even more important than delivering that experience in the B2C context.

“The stakes are much higher in the industrial B2B environment, where customers are usually quite busy (especially if searching from mobile) and need accurate information quickly,” says Benevento. “They need to know the answers to questions like:  Is the product safe? Will it arrive on time? What are the delivery options? And, will it work within our budget?”

The distributor that can answer those questions via a mobile-friendly site has a better chance of winning the sale. According to Benevento, that means acknowledging that screen space is smaller on a mobile phone, which means product information, photos, and pricing has to be condensed and easy to find. Checkout and payment processes need to be straightforward, he adds, and sites need to be developed with a “mobile-first” mindset—something Google has been talking about since 2010.

What is Mobile-First?

By definition, a mobile-first approach involves designing a desktop site starting with the mobile version, which is then adapted to larger screens (versus the traditional approach of starting with a desktop site and then adapting it to smaller screens). Generally speaking, a mobile-first approach means building your website with your mobile users in mind, with the main goal of improving these mobile users’ experience on your site. “Google has now stated that sites should be built ‘mobile first’ or ‘responsive’ as the majority of web traffic is now from mobile phones,” says Benevento. “In return, customers get a better user experience, which means a happier customer and more sales.”

Benevento says one of the best ways to implement a mobile-first strategy is by testing out your current site on several different mobile devices. Pull up your home page, search for products, click on links, and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Then, ask yourself if it feels like the site was developed with the mobile user in mind (or not).

If the experience isn’t satisfactory, then it certainly won’t be good for your customers either. “When you are designing or fine-tuning your online store’s mobile view, it’s important to keep the user journey in mind,” Benevento says. “Creating a robust user experience is essential when working with B2B e-commerce, especially on mobile devices.”


In the second installment of this 2-part article series, we’ll give you some good strategies for getting your distributorship’s mobile-first web strategy on track and moving in the right direction.


Developing a Mobile-First Mindset, Part II

Here are 10 strategies that all electrical distributors can use to start harnessing more mobile customers today.

Read more


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Bridget McCrea  is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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