B2B Commerce Search Needs to Level Up

November 15, 2021

The B2B Commerce Search Needs More Nuance as Compared to Standard B2C Digital Commerce Search

Every business to customer (B2C) organization understands the value of search. Equipped with a name or a brief description, consumers can locate the product they want in a matter of seconds. Business to business (B2B) organizations, on the other hand, have more complex needs when it comes to search. When your target audience is other companies, you need to provide information that the average customer doesn’t need. Here’s a more in-depth look at how B2B commerce search works.

B2B Commerce Search Goes Beyond the Product

For a B2C organization, a description or product image is all it takes to persuade a buyer to make a purchase. B2B commerce search, however, requires more than just images. The average B2B buyer looks for technical specifications, such as the following:

As you develop your B2B eCommerce search, it’s important to keep the needs of your audience members in mind — they won’t make a purchase unless they have the necessary specifications.

B2B Buyers Have Different Needs

A common mistake that B2B organizations make is assuming that their audience all has the same needs. In reality, each B2B buyer is searching for something different. To help your buyers find exactly what they’re looking for, it’s important to tailor your search results accordingly. For example, say a technical buyer wants a lighting product. Allowing them to filter search results by wattage or wiring connection helps narrow it down and ensure they’re satisfied with the product.

When accounting for the unique needs of your audience, always consider location. Ideally, you’ll connect with both global and local markets. You should stay informed on the economic trends, basic needs and technological innovation in each of these areas. A product that does well in your community may not be necessary across the globe — understanding your different audiences can help you further tailor your search results and give customers what they want.

B2B Commerce Search Requires Category-Aware Facets

To filter your searches and help technical buyers find precisely what they’re looking for, your eCommerce search should be adapted based on specific categories and the needs of the customer, for those specific categories. A major company that successfully accomplishes this is Amazon — this worldwide retailer has created a search experience that divides products into various categories, helping ensure the buyer finds the application that meets their expectations. A quick example of this is their Screws Category — by providing the customer a visual identification for the type of screw that is required, they make it seamless to narrow down to the specific and right type of screw — even for a non-technical buyer.

Users can further specify the search by adjusting the length, material, and thread size. Ultimately, the goal is to create a better user experience while also improving satisfaction rates.

B2B Companies Can Further Personalize Results

In comparison to B2C companies, most B2B organizations have more customer data available to them (which means better opportunities to personalize search results). When you consider that many buyers may be looking for parts that can integrate with a product they already have, personalization becomes even more important.

To better understand this, let’s consider an example. Say a machinery company is selling spare equipment parts — before purchasing a part, customers need to know that it’s going to fit with the equipment they currently have. Through artificial intelligence, you can help customers narrow their search so that they only see options that will work with their equipment. A simple consumer example of this could be Apple’s compatibility checker.

Zaelab partnered with an industrial manufacturer that created a comparable B2B Search Experience to find replacement parts for their industrial generators and electrical equipment. The challenge for this manufacturer was that they had nearly 100,000- replacement parts and it became frustrating for their service and custom organization to understand which parts might fit with their specific devices. The result was reduced customer friction, improvement in relevancy, and improved Conversion & NPS as a result.

B2B Organizations Need the Right Technology Enablers

There’s no doubt that B2B searches are complex. That’s why many famous eCommerce platforms, such as SAP Hybris and Salesforce, utilize out-of-the-box search engines including Lucene or SOLR that do not quite provide enough relevance or business-user tooling to meet the modern needs of B2B Buyers.

If you want to scale and optimize your search results, you’ll need a strong search engine to help you. Zaelab has proven success integrating with headless, cloud-based platforms such as Algolia. Not only is Algolia quick and easy to implement, but it also provides detailed analytics that improves the customer experience. At Zaelab, we offer ready-to-go integrations for Algolia for the following eCommerce platforms:

Our mission is to Deliver the World’s Best B2B Digital Experiences. Contact us today to learn more about our services!

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