B2B ecommerce website development: top features, best practices

Looking to launch your B2B business into the stratosphere? It’s time to take your business-website intentions off the shelf and sell online as part of the thriving digital twenty-first century world. After all, the business-to-business ecommerce market is growing by billions of dollars. The time is right for setting up an efficiency-oriented, modern B2B site, growing it over the years, and discovering the advantages of holding a vaunted spot for your company in cyberspace. 

In today’s digitally adept business world, being efficient, expanding your reach, and staying competitive are essential for survival as a B2B company. Without these priorities, generating revenue is likely to be more challenging. As with a B2C ecommerce website, a B2B ecommerce site is a streamlined, no-hassle way for your organization to transact with other businesses. It’s an opportunity to line up new revenue streams, enhance relationships with your existing B2B customers, impress your prospective customers, and streamline the buying process across the spectrum.


B2B website development prerequisites

Ready to get started? Before you can start, you’ve got to get ready. Jumping into B2B ecommerce website design would be foolhardy without:

Do your research 

Who are your B2B ecommerce platform competitors? How will your B2B online store stand out in an overcrowded market? These are just two of key questions to answer before embarking on your journey of B2B ecommerce website development.

For example, if one of your ecommerce business competitors is Alibaba, you need to research how you — as a smaller player — can offer a unique or superior ecommerce solution that appeals to your target audience despite the shadow of a gigantic, established market presence.

Make your intentions known 

Who’s your market? Whom are you aiming for in terms of new customers? What are you looking to achieve with your B2B site?

The adage “Know thy customer” is about much more than collecting sage wisdom from the ecommerce-company overlords. It’s imperative to cultivate detailed business-customer knowledge if you want your B2B ecommerce website to be a hit.

And then there are your business goals. Fleshing out your dream scenarios in terms of conversion and revenue is just as important as knowing your precise target audience. 

Encapsulate why your B2B ecommerce website exists by drawing up a mission statement. It could be something along the lines of “Providing the best SaaS services to business professionals” or “Delivering technical solutions and tools for global manufacturers”, or even something more specific. Regardless of the parameters, your mission statement should be clear and concrete so that all your B2B stakeholders know what they need to do.

Hosted or non-hosted?

Planning to use a hosted platform like Shopify, or are you going with a business model that incorporates a non-hosted platform? Each option has pros and cons; for instance you give up a customizable experience with a hosted platform. Double-check that the model you choose is the best solution for your budget and specific B2B needs.  

B2B ecommerce website development to-do list 

To build a successful B2B website, you can save yourself headaches by including and incorporating a few key B2B ecommerce features and best practices. 

Does it work on mobile? 

In this digital age with consumers and business folks alike using multiple devices and spending hours in mobile apps, your website must be accessible and visually appealing on all platforms. From desktops to laptop screens and tablets to smartphones, your site must look professional. Consistent, responsive design that starts on your home page and extends to each product-detail page and through the checkout process is a must. 

For seamless experiences across all platforms, your B2B website functionality should automatically adjust for layout, images, and navigation. If it doesn’t, there could be trouble: about 73% of web designers believe that nonresponsive web design is a big reason site visitors jump ship. 

Getting to the good stuff  

User-friendly navigation can mean the difference between a B2B shopper staying on your website or leaving in a huff; the difference between generating a flurry of B2B online sales or having to endure an indefinite lag in profitability. Clear and consistent navigation menus, category listings, and breadcrumbs are no-brainer features to add. Otherwise, how is business-customer Wesley from Wisconsin going to find the software solutions he needs for his growing business?

Plus, robust site-search functionality, including filters, advanced options, and auto suggestions, can help shoppers find the products they’re looking for, translating to a pleasant B2B ecommerce experience that requires minimal effort.

The price is right 

Want your B2B website to build loyalty with shoppers and stay competitive? Offering custom price lists, bulk discounts, and exclusive digital marketing promotions is a way to do that. Maximize your sales potential by implementing flexible pricing structures that cater to different customer segments, order quantities, and contract terms during development. 

The devil’s in the details  

The more detail you can provide about your B2B products, the better. You want your shoppers to make informed purchasing decisions and trust your brand. Comprehensive and accurate product information, as well as detailed specifications, images, and videos, give your shoppers a clear understanding of the features and benefits they’re getting.

According to one report, product descriptions and specs influence 82% of online purchasing decisions, with images at 83%. Ensuring that these elements are high quality reduces the likelihood of returns and complaints resulting from unmet expectations. So ensure that your product page designs and templates provide enough room and the right information to promote all the relevant USPs. 

Look sharp

At the end of the day, your website is the shop window on your storefront. Your B2B ecommerce website design should reflect your brand identity, enticing potential customers with its appeal. Is your site classy? Make it visually appealing and convey professionalism with every image, text element, and click. Clean layouts, high-quality photos, and consistent typography and color are essential to creating a cohesive online presence.

Everything’s connected 

Your B2B ecommerce developers need to ensure that your platform integrates seamlessly with your existing business systems, such as your enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and inventory management systems. During the ordering process, this ensures smooth data flow between systems, enabling you to efficiently manage your business and avoid potential data discrepancies, as well as increase scalability. 

Get the data

You’re putting all this effort into building a B2B website. How do you know if your hard work is paying off?

That’s where data analyitcs come in. You can build in the right information tools to track your website performance and customer behavior, then make smart, data-driven decisions geared to reflect marketing strategies and improving your site operations. Conversion rates, average order values, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) will soon be part of your daily lingo.   

Be fantastically fast

You want a B2B website with sufficient speed, one that will keep shopper Ella from Arkansas from heading to your competitor for fulfilling her startup business needs. Fine-tune your website’s performance by implementing key features like fast-loading pages, caching, and content delivery networks (CDNs) to ensure a lag-free user experience. Implement best practices such as image compression, minification of CSS and JavaScript files, and lazy loading to reduce page-load times and supercharge shopper engagement on your site. With Google reporting that the probability of someone bouncing off of a page increases by 32% as page-loading time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, it’s vital to get the B2B speed piece right. 

Smooth payments 

Another best practice for a B2B site is using a secure, reliable payment processing system. Business buyers understandably don’t relish overly complex payment methods. Ensure that your website supports multiple and flexible payment options, such as credit cards, bank transfers, Paypal, and digital wallets. Plus, take extra steps to guarantee that your payment gateway complies with industry security standards such as PCI DSS to protect sensitive customer data and minimize the risk of fraud. 

Simplicity rules

Your B2B shoppers want a simple process with every step they take. This includes how they order, manage orders, track shipments, and reorder products. Offering features like saved shopping carts, order history, and quick reordering improves the vibe of the whole customer experience, streamlines the purchasing process from end to end, and encourages repeat business and long-lasting working relationships.  

How’s your SEO? 

Optimize your B2B website for search engines by implementing a robust SEO (search engine optimization) strategy. What does that mean? When you’re building your site, do plenty of keyword research. Do on-page optimization, and start preparing link-building strategies that will increase your online visibility and drive qualified leads in the long term. That will cover a big part of how you can bring traffic to your platform.

Make it personal 

No, not that kind of personal. We’re talking about personalizing business-user experiences with intuitive recommendations and promotions tailored to shoppers’ browsing history, preferences, and purchasing. You’ve seen this, perhaps with everything you’ve bought online as a consumer lately. Does “Frequently bought together” ring a bell? Your business-to-business website can shine by offering that kind of guidance, too.

Maybe using machine-learning algorithms, as well as harnessing customer data, sounds like a bit much right now. Don’t worry; when you’re ready, there are plenty of recommendation platforms to help your new B2B website deliver relevant experiences that can supercharge your conversion and customer loyalty.    

Be supportive

Imagine that you have a polished website, and excellent products and services, but your customer support is hit or miss and not available in real time. Could you blame your prospective business buyers for not coming back if your website can’t meet such basic customer needs?

Potential shoppers also expect to be able to get support on multiple channels, such as through live chat, email, phone calls, social media, and self-service options like FAQs. And they want help promptly. So during your B2B website design process, ensure that the right tools, services, and processes will let shoppers get the answers they need to their B2B-specific inquiries at any point in their purchasing process. Also, you can train your support team to handle concerns in a way that mirrors the customer-satisfaction efforts in your ecommerce store.  

Get a leading B2B ecommerce solution

For all the best B2B site practices you could consider, search plays one of the most pivotal roles in a satisfying buying experience. You can have the sleekest design, most responsive customer support, and products that are in a different league, but if your prospective B2B buyers can’t locate what they need to find for placing their bulk orders, it’s all going to be for naught. 

That’s why delivering search experiences that lead to smooth B2B sales can be a game changer. At Algolia, not only are we pros at helping B2B ecommerce site owners achieve impressive B2B results through optimization, our API can help you streamline your business shoppers’ personalized recommendations and, through that optimization, seriously improve your odds of hitting your revenue targets. 

Want a B2B ecommerce website that can boost your business-to-business revenue? Let us know; we’d love to hear your needs and show you some ideas!

About the authorVincent Caruana

Vincent Caruana

Senior Digital Marketing Manager, SEO

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