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Here’s Why You Should Update Your B2B eCommerce Website

Brooke Seldin • May 2, 2016

With B2B eCommerce sales predicted to reach one trillion dollars by 2020, B2B companies are beginning to shift their investment priorities to heavily favor eCommerce technology.

And with good reason.

More than 60 percent of B2B buyers research products online before making a purchase, which only seems poised to grow as demographic changes in B2B procurement take hold of the industry.

As younger generations move into purchasing positions at work, they will increasingly rely on the web for product research, ordering, returns, and customer service—just like they’ve done in their personal lives on consumer websites since they were in middle school.

To capture this new demographic, B2B organizations must enable a seamless shopping experience for professional buyers. That means quick and easy product discovery, robust product information, crisp product images, and uncomplicated ordering and shipping.

While many B2B companies already have an eCommerce presence, many of their websites are woefully out of date or not very user friendly. It’s not a huge surprise, considering B2B products are highly complex with special inventory and shipping concerns. Previous generations of purchasers felt more comfortable ordering from a salesperson rather than clicking a few buttons—a wrong order could halt production, costing organizations money and precious time, or worse, lead to a potential jobsite disaster. The need to invest in eCommerce technology just wasn’t apparent to B2B organizations.

That’s just not the case these days. The new generation of decision makers doesn’t require interaction with a sales rep; in fact, they prefer self-service. And, by 2020, it’s predicted that consumers will manage 85 percent of their businesses relationships without talking to a single person.

So. What do you need to get your eCommerce website in shape?

Product Discovery

How you structure your website, product categories, and filters matters. Since most B2B buyers research and compare products online before purchasing, your website must enable quick and easy product discovery that helps them find the products they need.

This is a bit trickier with B2B products because they’re more complex than B2C products. Shopping for indexable cutting tools used in high-volume metalworking is not the same as browsing for T-shirts. Not only do B2B products have a higher number of attributes and more technical attributes, the purchaser is trying to accomplish a work task. If she can’t quickly find what she’s looking for, she simply won’t make a purchase.

The added complexity is that B2B companies often sell huge assortments of products. We’re talking 500,000 SKUs or more. Organizing such a large volume of product information in a way that promotes findability and usability isn’t easy. Not to mention building a recognizable online brand. However, it’s critical to B2B eCommerce success. Like we said earlier: if they can’t find it, they can’t buy it.

When updating your eCommerce website, pay close attention to how your product categories and product filtering experience are structured. Are your category names easy to understand? Are they organized in a logical, intuitive manner? Can your customers quickly narrow down a product selection using filters to arrive at the exact product they need?

In the world of B2B, your eCommerce site takes the place of a knowledgeable salesperson, so it needs to communicate with your customers in the same way a person would. A modern eCommerce platform can enable all these functionalities.

Another aspect of product discovery is rich content, which includes more than just product images. Sure, all websites should have clear, crisp, images that let shoppers zoom in and see multiple angles, but in the world of B2B the hard truth is that you need so much more.

In addition to product images, think about adding spec sheets, application guides, MSDS, how-to videos, compliance certificates, and other supporting content. Not only do they increase buyer confidence, but also position you as a trusted authority. Buyers are much more likely to return to your site as a result.

Predictive and Behavioral Analytics

How do you currently track and measure your customers’ behaviors? How do you take action once you have this information? We hope the answer isn’t “with a spreadsheet.” In today’s data-driven world, there’s no reason not to take advantage of the tools and programs that give you actionable insights into what make your customers tick.

A key advantage of updating your eCommerce website is access to facts about your customers, which helps you make informed, data-driven decisions that have a meaningful impact on your business. Armed with behavioral data about your customers, you can improve the customer experience, tweak offers and promotions, and see results for key performance indicators such as conversion, AOV, merchandising effectiveness, and revenue.

Predictive analytics is only increasing in popularity among B2B organizations—and with good reason: a recent study showed that B2B marketers who use predictive analytics outperform those who don’t in revenue and market share.

You Have Options

For B2B organizations that currently run a homegrown system or don’t have an eCommerce presence at all, upgrading to a well-know, trusted platform can help you achieve everything we’ve discussed today.

Where do you start? With so many options available and much to consider, it goes without saying you’ll have some research and due diligence to perform before selecting a platform.

With the right eCommerce platform and strategy, you’ll be in a better position to capture the attention (and business) of this new generation of purchasers.

Brooke Seldin is a marketing content specialist in LYONSCG’s Chicago office. She is a writer, an editor, and a content strategist who specializes in eCommerce, technology, and digital marketing for B2C and B2B organizations. She can be reached at

Brooke Seldin

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Brooke Seldin

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