In the past, building an eCommerce website for B2B operations required presenting your business as an official entity. As a result, most B2B website designers and developers played it safe by sticking to generic, template-driven designs.
But with businesses moving away from drab interfaces and robotic messaging, B2B companies are borrowing some personalization tips from their B2C counterparts.
This article explores the best B2B eCommerce website development strategies to help businesses boost conversions and stay relatable in the fast-changing economic landscape.
Creating a standout website as a B2B company can be scary and challenging for companies of all sizes. On the one hand, you want to play it safe and stick to the norm. But on the other hand, you recognize the potential rewards of taking a calculated risk.
So let’s dissect the numbers before discussing the concrete steps to take.
According to Statista, eCommerce sales in the United States will exceed $360 million by 2025. Another Statista report shows that eCommerce retail and wholesale websites (eBay and Amazon) top the list of retailers, a testament to their attention to optimizing user experiences.
Forrester also estimates that B2B is a fast-growing segment, reaching a $1.8 trillion valuation and accounting for 17% of all B2B sales in the U.S in 2022.
Although experts credit some of this increase to changing consumer behaviors, the reverse holds true: businesses are adapting to consumers.
Let’s explore strategies for successful B2B eCommerce website development. We’ll also share some shining examples of B2B eCommerce websites that got things right — and those that failed miserably.
When crafting a B2B eCommerce website development objective, the first step is to develop a plan.
Answering these questions will help you generate a few relevant ideas, which you can later fine-tune to formulate a coherent plan that hits every critical point of your business vision.
But while some business owners strategize for their websites off the cuff, others let data analytics guide their decisions.
Of course, “data” is a buzzword in every industry, but using it to make decisions will guarantee your business more success. Susan Moore, in a Gartner conference, stated that companies lose over $15 million a year from poor data management. And if that wasn’t bad enough, 60% of respondents didn’t realize that bad data costs their businesses.
Focusing on ways to gather and harness consumer-relevant data from your website should take precedent. Use the success stories of these companies as a North Star for your data collection and management initiative:
You can adapt these examples to your specific business niche. Just gather the raw data and generate actionable insights from it.
To create a client-friendly B2B website, your attention should shift to eCommerce development services that support personalization.
With access to large swathes of data and actionable insights, you can rely on modern tools to improve your website’s overall experience.
Let’s start with the design.
Open-source tools like Figma and Sketch can help your UI/UX design team create wireframes and prototypes. You can also use other prototyping tools to review the new site’s features in real time.
Apart from that, you can use survey tools to gather user feedback on designs through usability studies. These exercises will help you create B2B website interfaces that clients will love to interact with.
In terms of website functionality, consider implementing artificial intelligence, machine learning and even deep learning to fine-tune pricing and product recommendations. B2C retailers like Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, and Mediamarkt use these advanced algorithms to regulate the real-time pricing of their products and services.
The use of technology to personalize the shopping experience does not end with pricing and product recommendations. B2B companies can take things up several notches with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.
And the stats favor this shift. According to Analytics Insight, the global value of AR and VR in B2B eCommerce will reach $17.86 billion by 2028 (a 24.8% CAGR from 2021).
Foresight Factory’s Future of Shopping report estimates that 3 in 10 customers want virtual dressing rooms instead of going to a physical store for clothes. Square’s Future of Retail report showed that 33% of business owners were interested in providing AR and VR experiences, and 39% of Millennial and Gen Z shoppers are interested in AR and VR shopping.
Global household goods vendor IKEA has introduced IKEA Place — an AR shopping assistant that allows users to visualize the furniture placement before buying it.
Making changes to your website’s interface often sounds like a no-brainer, but you need to recognize the potential risks.
Any feature you add during B2B eCommerce website development exposes a new entry point for potential vulnerabilities — a possible point of failure.
For example, if you add an AR tool to a site with a weak server, traffic surges will force the server to crash. British car parts and tooling retailer Halford’s figured this out the hard way when their site crashed during a Black Friday sale. Clothing brand Lululemon also lost millions in potential revenue when the website crashed on Black Friday in 2018.
What lessons can B2B companies learn from these mishaps?
Once your site is ready and adequately tested, you can launch the revamped version to the public. To garner enough attention for the new site (or features), you need to create an awareness campaign on other social media channels. Alternatively, you can release the beta version for your consumers to test before finalizing the B2B eCommerce website development process.
But that’s not all. You need to conduct constant testing on your online marketplace to figure out possible optimization opportunities. Conduct a complete site health check and SEO audit to ensure the site is performing according to expectations. If not, you can roll out updates regularly.
Besides, you need a live support agent to assist shoppers while using the store. And consider using a messaging bot with automated responses to answer frequently asked questions.
Most importantly, use data management tools like Hubspot Suite to gather consumer metrics. By analyzing this information, you can reduce abandoned carts, increase engagement, boost sales, and attract more traffic to your B2B website.
B2B eCommerce website development can borrow features from B2C platforms for optimization. If you want to enjoy the benefits of B2B eCommerce, add these features to your website.
As a B2B service provider, you need to keep stock of available goods. With tools like IBM’s Inventory Visibility software, you can update your site’s stock of products in real-time to keep buyers updated about their availability.
In modern B2B eCommerce, prices change dynamically in response to real-time market changes. It also speeds up the decision-making process by factoring in deal size, customer type, and product type.
Companies like Amazon and Airbnb rely on dynamic pricing models to make profits and satisfy customers. According to McKinsey, B2B companies use dynamic pricing to understand and predict when to push prices higher to capture the upside quickly — or lower to avoid volume losses.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 7-Eleven increased profits by 100% after introducing the Big Gulp line. As a B2B vendor, you can also use bulk discounts on your website to attract new customers and retain existing ones while maximizing your bottom line.
When crafting your B2B eCommerce website development initiative, pay attention to the differences between how businesses and individuals pay for services.
While individual buyers use the cash-and-carry method to pay, businesses often open lines of credit through which they can funnel payments to creditors — which is you in this case.
So, it is all about finding the middle ground in terms of payment. Instead of relying on manual invoicing methods and wire transfers, you can add digital wallets and payment services to make the transactions less stressful. Payment services like PayPal and Square also work for B2B services.
Besides, the more the payment methods you offer, the lower the bounce rate and the higher the volume of transactions.
With the number of mobile shoppers growing, Business Insider predicts that m-commerce will reach $620.97 billion (42.9% of eCommerce) by 2024. So it should go without saying that your B2B website needs to have an intuitive interface that works perfectly on mobile devices.
Use advanced search filters to help buyers find your services quickly. You can also use auto-complete options to fine-tune long-tail search keywords. Other smart options to add to your site include fault tolerance, favorites, and saved searches.
Companies and startups can borrow B2C strategies for B2B eCommerce website development to boost profits and expand their clientele. But to stay relevant in this competitive landscape, you need to back your business decisions with data. Conduct research and proper testing before and after adding features to your website. Use dynamic pricing and bulk discounts to stay within the right pricing bracket. And most importantly, try to improve the user experience on all devices and platforms.