E-commerce

Which features do the best B2C sites have in common?
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You have a great-looking B2C (What is business to consumer?) ecommerce site with in-demand products, an online presence, and easy access to good customer support. Strangely, though, your online store sales are lagging, stock is piling up, and revenue is dropping ominously.

What could be the problem? Let’s see…

  • Does your B2C ecommerce platform offer an intuitive user experience? 
  • Does it provide intelligent, seamless search?
  • Does it display and work well on everybody’s mobile device?
  • Are the design elements on your home page and product pages consistent looking?
  • Are you including all the product information your end customers need?

If the answer to any of these is no, that could be pretty instructive for your business-to-consumer site. 

These are proven ways to succeed in B2C. Whether they’re running single-company sites or ecommerce company marketplaces, the most successful B2C ecommerce business owners have nailed the online customer experience — they’ve taken the concept of online marketing strategy to hyper levels. And stand-out online retailers have not just done everything right, they’ve also pioneered new ways of using their online retail space to engage and delight their target audiences.

Winning B2C website examples

You know the household-name sites, which embody many different types of business. Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Alibaba, Netflix, and Spotify are just a few of the biggies thriving because they’ve tested and determined what works in terms of digital marketing for their millions of users. And now there’s some clear consensus about which digital commerce features B2C site managers should implement for their end consumers.

Depending on your ecommerce business website (or ecommerce marketplace) B2C model and stakeholder priorities, different features will take precedence, but overall, the best B2C ecommerce websites incorporate and refine these elements:

  • Good content 
  • Good design 
  • Easy navigation 
  • Great search functionality 
  • Personalization 
  • A seamless experience on mobile
  • Geolocation 
  • Social media integration 
  • Community features  
  • Quick checkout

Which features are you missing?

Your site might be lacking in some of these user-friendly features. Perhaps you’re missing only one…but that key difference may be what’s responsible for your lackluster online sales and so-so quarterly reports.

Next step: find out what you need. Look in depth at these success elements and see whether you could be missing the mark. Start a spreadsheet on what could be improved. Then, for good measure, check out a few case studies of successful ecommerce sites to see how yours seems to stack up.

Good content 

Content ranges from website copy that aims to grab shoppers’ attention to micro copy that points them in the right direction as they mosey on their shopping path. Search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in the content realm for an ecommerce site, as using optimized keywords can help your platform rank higher on prospective shoppers’ search-results pages when they’re surfing Google or another service. And including the right keywords in your site copy also helps improve your internal site search.  

But content isn’t all words. For instance, in this age of Instagram and TikTok, for certain demographics of shoppers, product videos have become the go-to for enjoying a more immersive experience. Or a direct-to-consumer website might offer a 3-D online shopping feature, which would be a help when, for instance, someone is determining whether home decor would look stylish in their home. Reviews are also a form of content, as are informational articles and blog posts related to products and genres.

Good design 

B2C website design is another building block of B2C ecommerce-solution success. High-quality images are crucial for shopper satisfaction, along with engaging, professionally created video content that end users can find relatable. Key to everything is consistent branding in the design across your site and in all your social channels and B2C marketing material. 

The user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are important elements of B2C web design as well. Together, they ensure that the customer journey helps people find what they need, and they also highlight key products and deals.

Easy navigation 

Imagine going to a meeting at a company on a top floor in a skyscraper. You walk into the lobby to find an empty reception area and elevators, but no signs or directories. You don’t know which floor the office is on, so you’re stuck..

A lack of site navigation feels like that. If you don’t get your navigation set up right, this sense of disappointment could be the way visitors feel when they arrive.  

Key B2C site features include navigation panels that highlight page names and categories. On the site of a fashion retailer, the navigation is where you’d click if you want to find, say, clothes for men or women, or accessories.

Another responsive design feature is filters, which allow users to customize which products they’re shown and in which order. Buttons and other call-to-action prompts direct shoppers to relevant areas of your site, helping them complete their buyer journeys. 

Good search functionality 

Good-quality site search-engine functionality is perhaps the most important component on this list. Without quick and easy search, shoppers aren’t likely to experience retail joy. If your search is slow or inaccurate, they’ll simply jump to a competitor. Intelligent search functionality can boost your ROI by using AI capabilities to enhance search components such as autocomplete, plus provide unmatched search speed. 

Personalization 

Recommendation engines and algorithms can steer individual customers to relevant items, not only speeding up and streamlining their shopping experiences but creating opportunities for sellers to make additional ecommerce sales. Returning customers expect B2C businesses to know their preferences and provide personalized experiences. It’s an increasingly essential feature for all types of B2C businesses.  

A seamless experience on mobile 

Smartphone users look at their phones 63 times a day, on average; 69% check them within 5 minutes of waking up. So it’s not a stretch to say that for B2C ecommerce, mobile has taken over. You can either build a customer-facing mobile app or ensure that your ecommerce store is optimized for mobile experiences. Your design, navigation, and user interface must be fine-tuned so they work perfectly in near real time on an iPhone (or Android) screen, correctly presenting your different pages.

Geolocation 

The rise of mobile shopping, dining, and sightseeing has also resulted in geolocation — utilizing location data to provide shoppers with relevant experiences — another way to improve shopper satisfaction and drive sales on a commerce platform. Local deals, info about physical stores, and nearby promotional events can enrich mobile wanderers’ shopping forays and drive up sales.  

Social-media integration 

Like the proliferation of mobile, the popularity of online communities in the form of social media sites can’t be ignored. Multichannel shopping, in which shoppers interact with B2C companies across multiple channels (websites, mobile apps, brick-and-mortar stores, marketplace sites, social media) is the new normal. With that in mind, you can strive to build seamless integration with social-media channels to help shoppers find out about your site and share what they love about your products with their friends and acquaintances in cyberspace.

Community features 

Community-based features such as product ratings, reviews, and comments are forums that allow enthusiastic customers to share their knowledge and endorsements (“social proof”), turning buyers into empowered decision-makers who can more easily get to “Yes” (or “No way!”). 

Let’s say you have a new kitten and you’re looking for a cat flap on Amazon. You find one offered by a small business, but there’s one pain point: it’s more expensive than the others. Scrolling down to the reviews, you notice that people are saying it’s worth the higher price because it’s solidly made. These testimonials — the equivalent of free marketing — are just the reinforcement you need in your pet-centered decision-making process.

Quick checkout 

The virtual checkout stand can be called the decision-making point in the buyer journey, and any hesitation by consumers can mean shopping baskets are abandoned, either temporarily or permanently. Consciously creating checkout experiences that keep potential customers focused on following steadily through with their purchases can combat this problem. 

Flexible payment options (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Apple Pay) and personalized pricing (although this is perhaps more suited to business to business) are one way to nudge shoppers to complete the buying process. The checkout experience also presents opportunities for upsells and cross-sells; it’s a great place to inject personalized recommendations and offers. 

Get your B2C features with Algolia 

The features you choose to incorporate on your B2C website will help determine how successful you are in achieving your business objectives. Regardless of which B2C business model you’re using (e.g., a single-company site or an online marketplace with multiple storefronts), applying the right marketing tools to impress your shoppers, from their setting foot on a landing page on down to checkout, will drive revenue and buyer loyalty.

How’s your B2C site search? Algolia is a SaaS offering known for powerful, scalable search experiences, which we deliver for all types of ecommerce businesses. With AI-powered search and discovery and product merchandising optimization, you can offer the kind of ecommerce customer experiences that make your shoppers keep putting items in their shopping carts and coming back, boosting (possibly by a lot) your online business conversion rate in the process.

For details on how the Algolia API can help streamline your site to meet your B2C ecommerce business goals, contact our team today.

About the authorVincent Caruana

Vincent Caruana

Senior Digital Marketing Manager, SEO

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