Product discovery is essential to providing B2B buyers with a productive customer experience. Michael Vax, founder of the consulting firm CommerceIsDigital, offers several tips on upgrading B2B site search and navigation.

Michael Vax. B2B ecommerce user interfaces often leave today’s buyers facing pain points that stifle purchasing instead of adopting effective CX processes.

Michael Vax

Many B2B companies sell complex products and must invest in educational content and better product discovery tools to make it easier for customers to select the right products while avoiding costly mistakes. 

B2B buyers may want to search by their internal product ID vs. IDs used by the merchant. Sellers should consider adding this capability to improve the CX of their most important customers.

Here are the essential steps to help you achieve a great customer experience in B2B Ecommerce during the product discovery phase. 

Providing comprehensive product content to educate your customers 

With many options available and complex products sold online, customers need help to decide which product is right for them. Buyers want to research and understand their options when buying new equipment or selecting a spare part. 

Enriching product listings with comprehensive content is instrumental in educating customers about product features, benefits, and use cases. By providing detailed product descriptions, specifications, how-to guides, and multimedia assets, businesses empower customers to make informed purchase decisions. 


Invest in white papers, analyst reports, case studies, product demos, and data sheets to provide additional support with product selection. 

If a business sells internationally, it is important to consider localizing product content. Remember that localization goes beyond mere translation as it needs to account for different measurement units, date formats, currencies, and terminology used in different regions. 

In most businesses, product data managed in internal systems like ERP are insufficient for selling online. It needs to be enriched with additional attributes and images to help customer compare them and select the best fit for their needs. 

Investing in powerful search, filtering, and navigation tools 

Search is the most frequently used feature in any online store, and implementing a search-as-you-type feature and using autocomplete to show suggested search queries can greatly enhance the customer experience. Ecommerce site search engines should be capable of recognizing product names, categories, and product attributes in multiple languages, knowing synonyms, ignoring cases, and understanding syntax. 


To ensure customers aren’t overwhelmed with a long list of results, search results should show categories containing the search terms, suggested products, and product-related content like blog posts or landing pages. 

For ecommerce stores with extensive catalogs, filters, also known as facets, are essential tools to help visitors narrow search results on category pages. 

A particularly useful feature of facets is their ability to show how many products satisfy filter conditions, enabling customers to quickly and easily find what they want. To benefit from facet filtering, product data should first be enriched to have a consistent set of attributes. 

Coherent and intuitive site navigation is key to guiding customers through the purchasing journey. By logically organizing product categories and subcategories, businesses ensure customers can locate relevant products with minimal effort. Consider implementing multiple ways to navigate your site: by how products are used, by solutions they are part of, or by level of customer expertise. 


While the best search and navigation practices described above enhance user experience in B2C and B2B online stores, there are also some additional B2B-specific usability requirements. 

B2B buyers are professionals and, in most cases, have detailed knowledge of products they want to purchase when buying from established vendors. To achieve greater efficiency in product selection, they would like to do searches by using SKU numbers instead of product names, as well as use product identifiers that are defined in their procurement system. In other words, they want to search by their internal product ID vs. IDs used by the merchant. While it may be too expensive to implement for every client, merchants should consider adding this capability to improve the CX of their most important customers. 

Strategic merchandising of related products and bundles also plays a vital role in B2B CX. For example, B2B Merchants should create merchandising links between discontinued products and their alternatives. 

Enable Digital Service-oriented Experience 

Complex B2B purchases require a high-touch approach and an experienced sales team. While having well-prepared product content is essential to answering most customer questions, some buyers may still require the expertise of a business representative to make a final purchasing recommendation. 


Therefore, combining the unique advantages of personal and digital selling is important. 

Thankfully, many ecommerce vendors have implemented tools that allow sales representatives to access the ecommerce storefront on behalf of customers. With this feature, sales agents can log in to the store and assist customers in making their purchase decisions. 

Integrating live assistance features into the online store enables customers to receive personalized support and guidance in real time. By offering live chat, co-browsing, and video conferencing capabilities, businesses bridge the gap between digital interactions and human engagement, fostering better customer experience. 


Transparent Availability 

Most B2B purchases are time-critical. Real-time visibility into product availability greatly enhances customer experience by enabling customers to make informed purchase decisions and preventing potential stockouts or delays. By integrating inventory management systems with the ecommerce platform, businesses ensure customers can access up-to-date information and eliminate countless back-and-force emails and phone calls. 

Enabling Mobile experience 

Optimizing the ecommerce experience for mobile devices is essential for catering to the evolving preferences of modern professionals. By implementing responsive design principles and mobile-friendly interfaces, businesses ensure that customers can access and interact with the platform seamlessly across devices. 

About the Author:

Michael Vax is a founder of CommerceIsDigital, which provides consulting services and training programs for companies deploying B2B and BTC ecommerce strategies. He is a former executive at ecommerce technology companies Spryker Systems, SAP Commerce Cloud, Elastic Path and WebInterpret.

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