Top features of successful B2B ecommerce websites

In 2012, in a corner office on the outskirts of New York, Ginni Rometty sat contemplating the future of one of the world’s oldest and most renowned technology companies. She’d just taken over as CEO at IBM, and she knew the company was at a crossroads. It could cling to its legacy hardware business and risk becoming outdated. Or it could dive into the unknown waters of cloud computing, data analytics, and AI, hoping to emerge at the forefront of technology.

She chose the latter option, and today, IBM continues to make strides as one of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies. 

Leaders in the fast-paced B2B ecommerce market should take note of IBM’s openness to change. It’s this ability to adapt to a changing environment that sets the most successful B2B companies apart. But along with flexibility, another key is understanding what your target audience wants. Distinguishing the front-runners in this ecosystem of B2B ecommerce sites is their well-equipped arsenal of website features — key tools that turn passive browsing into active buying and reordering, and turn mere visitors into faithful customers.


Key features for a B2B ecommerce website

A well-designed, intuitive B2B ecommerce website is far more than just a digital showroom for your business-to-business products or services. At its best, it’s a dynamic hub of engagement, a seamless gateway for transactions, and a trusted partner in your customer’s decision-making process. The key to achieving this level of B2B seller sophistication and efficiency lies in the effective use of online store features tailored to the unique needs of your audience.   

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best B2B ecommerce websites in the business.  

7 traits of the best B2B ecommerce sites

The leading B2B ecommerce websites have core features in common. Here are a few real-world B2B ecommerce examples:

1. Advanced search functionality

As with a B2C digital experience, cutting-edge search-engine functionality is the cornerstone of a successful B2B ecommerce website. It’s not just about aiding customers in finding the products they’re looking for; it’s about ensuring that the process is quick, intuitive, and hassle free, from the moment they alight on a landing page to when they fill their shopping cart and check out. 

B2B customers often need to procure large quantities of items, sometimes from different product categories or with specific requirements. A powerful, smart search system can facilitate their buying process by delivering accurate, relevant results. When customers can find what they need without having to sift through irrelevant material, it enhances their shopping experience and can save significant time. 

Additionally, an advanced search system is a vital tool in improving conversion rates. By making the product discovery journey as smooth as possible, businesses can encourage more purchases and reduce instances of shopping cart abandonment due to frustration or confusion, ultimately improving ROI.

Real-life example-Alibaba
Real-life example: Alibaba

Alibaba is a good example of a B2B ecommerce platform that has mastered the art of advanced search functionality. Buyers can search for products using various filters such as supplier location, minimum order quantity, price range, and supplier type. This level of detail is tailored to the unique needs of B2B buyers, providing a customized search experience that is both efficient and effective.

2. Personalized user experiences

Today, personalization isn’t just a B2B nice-to-have, it’s a standard expectation. Customers appreciate a shopping experience that feels tailored to their needs and preferences. It fosters a connection, building a relationship that goes beyond mere transactional interaction. 

B2B customers typically have specific requirements. They might be interested in specific product categories, require large quantities, or want special pricing arrangements. By personalizing the user experience for your B2B ecommerce solution, you can ensure that these customers feel valued and understood, which can boost their loyalty and result in repeat business. 

Real-life example-Zappos
Real-life example: Zappos

While primarily a B2C retailer platform, Zappos has many lessons to teach in the realm of user experience. The site provides highly personalized recommendations based on past purchases and browsing behavior. This level of customization shows customers that Zappos understands and caters to their unique needs. 

Incorporating personalized experiences on a B2B ecommerce website and tailoring your website to your user’s preferences and behavior not only enhances the shopping experience but fosters loyalty and boosts conversion. It’s about turning your platform into a reliable partner for your customers, rather than just a tool for transactions.  

3. Seamless navigation

On any ecommerce platform, B2B or B2C, seamless navigation plays a critical role in guiding customers through the buying journey. B2B website transactions, in particular, often involve complex purchasing decisions with multiple steps, so the storefront navigation needs to be intuitive and user friendly.

From the home page to checkout, every step of the journey should be clear and easy for potential customers to execute. Site visitors should be able to easily find the products they’re looking for, view their detailed product descriptions, add the items to their cart, and make the purchase. All these steps should be linked in a logical, seamless workflow.

Real life example-Siemens
Real life example: Siemens

A B2B ecommerce website example of a company that masters the art of seamless navigation is Siemens. The global conglomerate operates in numerous industries, offering a diverse array of products and services. Despite its massive product catalog, the website provides a well-organized, intuitive navigation system. With its clear category breakdown, easy-to-use search functionality, and links to important information, it provides an exemplary user experience that eases the complexity of B2B sales. 

4. Detailed product information  

In the sphere of B2B ecommerce, plenty of accurate product information is an absolute necessity. Unlike B2C purchases, which are often impulsive or based on general needs, B2B transactions are more analytical and require thorough information to back the buying decision. 

B2B buyers are typically experts in their fields, and they require technical details, specifications, pricing information, product availability, and other details. The more information they can glean from your product pages, the better equipped they are to make a purchasing decision. It also builds trust and credibility, as it shows transparency and depth of knowledge.

Real-life example-Fastenal
Real-life example: Fastenal

Among top B2B ecommerce companies, Fastenal stands out as an example of providing comprehensive product information. A leader in the industrial supply sector, their site showcases an extensive range of products. Each product listing is accompanied by detailed specifications, high-resolution images, availability status, SKU numbers, and pricing information. Such high-quality in-depth information enables B2B buyers to make informed decisions, fostering trust and increasing the likelihood of repeat business.  

5. Customer reviews and ratings

In the era of digital commerce, customer feedback in the form of ecommerce store reviews and ratings plays a pivotal role in shaping purchasing decisions. Utilizing customer reviews and ratings offers a host of benefits, such as fostering trust, promoting transparency, boosting SEO, and, ultimately, driving conversions. Moreover, reviews offer social proof, providing assurance to potential new customers.

In B2B ecommerce, this influence can be even more profound. B2B buyers often make high-stakes, long-term decisions, and thus heavily rely on peer insights and experiences to guide their choices. Positive reviews can bolster a company’s reputation, while negative ones can unearth valuable insight on areas for improvement. By integrating and managing customer reviews and ratings, B2B ecommerce business owners can boost their credibility, enhance their customer engagement, and directly impact their bottom line.

Real-life example-Amazon Business
Real-life example: Amazon Business

One B2B ecommerce giant that effectively uses customer reviews and ratings is Amazon Business. Each product listing contains detailed reviews and ratings from other business buyers. Buyers can also pose questions that are answered by the seller or other customers, fostering a sense of community and transparency. The platform has leveraged this user-generated input to instill confidence in the buying decisions of millions of businesses worldwide.

6: Secure and diverse payment options  

For any B2B ecommerce website, it’s imperative to ensure that online shopping transactions are not only secure but versatile in the payment options offered. The provision of diverse payment methods caters to the needs of various B2B businesses, some of which might have specific preferences or restrictions due to their company policies or regional regulations. 

Having a range of payment options reduces friction in the transaction process and enhances the overall customer experience. This, in turn, contributes to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates. 

A B2B ecommerce business with a powerful online presence needs to ideally offer options such as bank transfers, credit cards, digital wallets, purchase orders, and even financing options for bulk orders. Additionally, providing automated invoices and receipts as part of the transaction process can add to the convenience for B2B buyers.

Real-life example-IndiaMART
Real-life example: IndiaMART

A B2B marketplace in India offers an excellent example of diverse payment options. Along with standard payment methods like credit and debit cards, the platform supports net banking, mobile wallets, and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) — a real-time payment system. This assortment of options makes it convenient for businesses of all sizes and from all sectors to transact with ease.

7. Mobile optimization

In the age of smartphones, it’s crucial for B2B ecommerce platforms to be optimized for mobile devices (and mobile apps). With people’s busy schedules and on-the-go lifestyles, in the B2B business model, buyers are increasingly using their smartphones to make purchase decisions. Therefore, ensuring a mobile-friendly interface is essential for a seamless shopping experience. 

Mobile optimization doesn’t mean that the website is merely accessible on a mobile device; it implies that the design, functionality, and user experience on a mobile platform match or surpass the desktop website design. It includes fast load times, intuitive interfaces, easy navigation, and ensuring that all content is clearly visible and accessible on a smaller screen.

Real-life example-Grainger Industrial Supply
Real-life example: Grainger Industrial Supply

Grainger Industrial Supply, a leading B2B ecommerce platform, stands out with its mobile-optimized website. With the user-friendly mobile interface, customers can effortlessly browse products, access detailed information, and complete transactions with a few taps. This mobile optimization enhances the user experience and allows Grainger to reach and retain a larger customer base.

Tips for implementing these features

Case studies aside, Implementing these B2B features may seem like a daunting task. However, with a strategic approach, B2B ecommerce businesses can ensure user friendliness, efficiency, and success. Here are tips on how these features can be effectively integrated in a B2B ecommerce website experience.

Leverage a robust back-end system

To support advanced search functionality, personalized experiences, seamless navigation, and detailed product information, your B2B platform requires a robust back-end system. Such a system should not only handle a large volume of data but process it quickly and efficiently to ensure a seamless user experience.  

Implement A/B testing

A/B testing is a powerful method to understand what works best for your online business audience in terms of the ecommerce experience. This can be used to assess different versions of search functionality, navigation designs, product information layouts, or other features, allowing you to select the option that yields better engagement and conversion rates. 

Use data analytics

Data analytics can offer insights on your customers’ behavior, preferences, and needs. These insights can then be used to finalize marketing strategies, personalize user experiences, optimize product information, and improve navigation, significantly enhancing the ordering process and your website’s overall performance.

Put chatbots on duty

Chatbots can provide instant self-service to your customers, guiding them through the online sales process and answering their queries promptly. This not only improves the customer experience but frees up your customer support team to handle more-complex issues.

Streamline your B2B site

By strategically implementing these features to meet their customer needs, B2B ecommerce business owners can significantly improve their user experiences, conversion rates, and growth in the online marketplace.  

Want to upgrade your B2B commerce platform search experiences and features? Algolia is a SaaS search provider that’s equipped many B2B sites with the right features, optimized for maximum benefit, which has led to increased customer satisfaction and significant growth. Request a demo to see how our API can help you achieve your ecommerce sales goals and meet your business needs, or contact our sales team and let’s chat!

About the authorCatherine Dee

Catherine Dee

Search and Discovery writer

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