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At a high level, the same basic concepts for creating a consumer-oriented site applies to building a B2B webstore. A responsive and visually appealing design, a user-friendly interface, and a robust website search engine are the foundational cornerstones of any successful website. But before these components are put in place, it’s important for your business to clearly understand your target audience. There are glaring differences between the B2B and B2C purchaser so be sure to understand who you are selling to.
In today’s blog, we share our best practices in B2B UX when creating or optimizing an ecommerce site.

Tailor Content To Product Buyers and End Users

For B2C websites, attention-grabbing visuals and actionable content is often enough to hook consumers and entice them to purchase. This doesn’t translate in the B2B space. A B2B website should focus more on educating buyers rather than visual stimulation.

The major challenge is understanding which of multiple stakeholders on your B2B buyer’s side you need to be educating and how. As B2B purchases are usually a group decision you need to cater to each of this group’s member criteria of what makes a product worth buying.

Your first step would be defining your prospective customer personas. As soon as you know who the decision makers are, it will be much easier to understand what kind of content they would be looking for on your website. Make sure your website allows information of all types to be available and easily accessible. This includes technical specs, whitepapers, how-to videos, products demos, ROI indicators, reviews, and comparisons against similar items by competitors.  

Here’s a very simple example demonstrating how a B2B site addresses the values that each of different stakeholders might have.

Source: http://www.publishthis.com/

While CEOs or business owners would rather receive information on revenue growth projections, CMOs would appreciate information like projected time efficiency and improved customer engagement.

Optimize Navigation to Serve Multiple Audiences

B2B customers arriving at the site want to instantly define (without much scrolling and clicking) whether it offers products their businesses are looking to acquire.

Provide persona-based site navigation to let buyers coming from different industries easily find a way to the items that closely match their buying criteria. Arrange site’s architecture around carefully chosen, properly labeled, and, ideally, non-overlapping customer segments.

Here’s an example of how Sharp designed landing pages targeting various industry verticals that they serve:

b2b-design

Source: http://siica.sharpusa.com/Vertical-Markets

Provide Personalized Buying Environments

Business buyers rarely place orders on the first website visit. However, providing a personalized buying environment can certainly help. Nudge them into action by offering additional authorized-users-only product images, videos, and specifications. Also, ensuring your buyers feel supported at all times can yield to higher purchasing rates. This is where you can think about integrating a live chat tool with a webshop agent.

B2B customers typically come to a website knowing exactly which product or SKU they want to buy. That’s why your online store needs to facilitate the process of repeat orders to maximize the customer lifetime value. Focus on creating a buying experience that easily tracks the purchase history and offers seamless reordering. Providing a personalized account that quickly shows past purchases and discounts, custom product catalogs, as well as any other related information yield a better buying experience which results in more repeat business.

Specify Product Integration and Compatibility Options

Often times, B2B customers need standalone parts to produce larger products they might be manufacturing or re-selling. This means customers need to know whether the parts they’re looking to purchase are compatible with their equipment and other product counterparts.

To meet their expectations and enhance website customer experience, provide business buyers with exhaustive data on relevant compatibility and integration options. Depending on the items you sell, this might include products a particular item conjoins or works best with, product versions, industry and quality-control standards, hardware connections. Providing details on technical support and integration assistance would be a nice touch that you B2B customers would appreciate.

Facilitate Bulk and Custom Ordering

B2B customers are not only repeat purchasers; they also buy in bulk. They may also want custom orders that differ in size or color. So instead of making buyers switch between multiple product pages displaying the same merchandise, let them quickly order items via store front-end through a matrix grid also known as configurable products.

The Bottomline

B2B merchants should be cautious in replicating business-to-consumer websites as it’s not suited for the buying behaviours and personas of B2B.

To meet the needs of the business buyer, B2B sites should focus more on content and product data so that customers can stay well informed throughout their entire buying journey.
Consider implementing these B2B UX best practices when designing or enhancing your site, and see how a more personalized approach can yield more revenue for your business.

Is there any specific strategy that helped you enhance your B2B website design we didn’t reference? Share your case in the comments below!