“They’re [B2B buyers] often the people given lists from other departments and employees about what they need, and it’s their job to place the order,”
– Harley Thomas, senior director of corporate and digital marketing at ibSupply.
B2B ecommerce is rapidly moving towards “consumerization.” B2B buyers are increasingly using Amazon and Google in their personal capacity, and this heavily influences their expectations when they visit B2B sites for official procurement.
B2B ecommerce retailers must adapt their user experience to meet these changing buyer expectations. To achieve this, B2B e-tailers could learn from B2C ecommerce best practices. But, blindly adopting them would not serve the purpose because behavior and needs of B2B buyers significantly differ from those of B2C buyers.
Site-search solutions for B2B ecommerce need to consider the unique traits of B2B buyers. For example, the incidence of repeat purchases is high among B2B buyers. Hence, it is imperative that B2B buyers have a quick and easy access to reorder past purchases.
5 keys to successfully address the unique B2B buyer behavior
Provide personalized search results
Both B2C and B2B buyers find personalization appealing. But, it has a higher relevance in the B2B world because most B2B buyers are repeat shoppers. It is easier for personalization algorithms to use their abundant historical buying and browsing data to deliver a highly personalized buying experience.
Offer an intelligent autosuggest solution to shorten the path to purchase
An Intelligent Visual Autosuggest can significantly reduce the effort of a B2B buyer. In addition to suggesting relevant products and subcategories, the autosuggest solution should allow the buyer to add products to the cart (including change of quantity) directly from the autosuggest window, without taking them to the search results page. Shortening the path to purchase saves the buyer’s time and effort.
Allow searching by partial or complete SKU numbers
Most B2B buyers are familiar with the products they are looking for. So, their search queries often contain product part numbers or SKUs. Therefore, it is imperative that retailers offer their B2B buyers an excellent part number/SKU search capability.
Offer dynamic, relevant facets and filters to enable easier decision making
B2B buyers buy a diverse set of products, from printer ink to dustbin liners. Relevant facets and filters help buyers to quickly narrow down their product selection using the most popular product attributes.
Offer search by compliance and compatibility
Many B2B buyers may not know the exact name of the product accessory or spare part they require. Instead they might just know the product name the accessory is associated with. Buyers should be able to search by compatible products. Their procurement might also mandate products which meet specific standards like GSA, TAA, energy rating, etc. Provide them with the ability to search by compliance requirements.
Improved B2B site search grows conversions and revenue
For most B2B buyers, official procurement is a significant part of their job, unlike the majority of B2C shoppers who shop for their personal needs. Even when B2B buyers do not end up buying, they are usually researching either the product or the best place to buy it from. So, it is imperative to provide them an intuitive search experience to turn them into loyal customers who are most likely to frequently buy in bulk. Otherwise, it is natural for them to move on to your competition or even to Amazon to purchase.