10 Areas for B2B Ecommerce to Improve

Essent business solutions provide a B2C experience for B2B ecommerce, including all of the capabilities listed below.


Consumer ecommerce is booming while business ecommerce remains largely underdeveloped.

But consumer ecommerce has established a clearly successful model that business ecommerce can emulate for a better buyer experience and increased sales.

Essent is highlighting some of ways that B2B ecommerce can perform more like B2C. Here are the Top 10 areas to improve.

1. More Deals and Promotions

Deals and promotions are ubiquitous in B2C ecommerce and are the lifeblood of Cyber Monday. B2B needs to offer them to create the B2C feel and performance.

General promotions can be offered in the form of a code. With an integrated ecommerce solution, the customer punches in the code at checkout and it stays with the order all the way through the critical path.

B2B also needs to handle trickier pricing changes, namely pricing dictated by contract or cost center rules.

More on deals and promotions.

2. User-Friendly Catalogs

"94 percent of B2B buyers wanted suppliers to make their Web sites more like B2C Web sites." - Forbes

The catalog needs to make it easy for the buyer to find what they want – and even some things they didn’t know they wanted.

In B2B ecommerce, however, the onus is often on the buyer to find product information, a task that the catalogs don’t always make easy.

Quality images, rich product details, product grouping, the ability to search multiple fields and search filtering are catalog features commonly found in B2C ecommerce and not in B2B ecommerce.

Learn more about Carts and Catalogs.

3. User-Friendly Carts

In B2C ecommerce, the buyer clicks on a product and it goes in the cart. In B2B ecommerce, it’s not always that simple.

The buyer often faces a series of mandatory fields and is required to find the information, even on another website. This fill-a-field approach is a major source of what Ariba calls "client-server shopping agony.”

The cart needs to be easy to fill. Quick and easy order entry will resonate with shoppers.

Learn more about Carts and Catalogs.

4. Customer Self-Service

"B2B customers expect the same type of online interaction as when they shop in a B2C shopping experience." - Oracle

Customer self-service lets the customer modify the product the way they want it, such as adjusting the size or color of a T-shirt.

But customer self-service is even more important and nuanced in promotional products, because virtually every item is customized. A B2B site can let the buyer enter the quantity, artwork and other variables.

Buyers like self-service because it puts them in control of what they’re getting. Stores should like it, too, because it saves the store the time of customizing the product.

Learn more about Customer Self-Service.

5. Visual Product Configurator

A visual product configurator takes buyer self-service to the next level.

It visually represents the changes to the product as the buyer modifies it. The customer changes the color or uploads artwork, for example, and immediately sees the image of the product change in real-time.

The configurator can also provide real-time price changes as the customer makes the modifications.

Learn More About Enhanced Self-Service.

6. Guest Checkout

"Technologies make the difference between consumer like shopping and shopping agony.” – Ariba

Guest checkout breaks down a barrier between the store and potential new customers by allowing buyers to place orders without creating an account.

Many B2B ecommerce arrangements are necessarily bound by cost center and contract rules for many customers. But guest checkout is one way to let new customers try out your site and products and potentially become repeat, registered customers.

Learn more about Guest Checkout

7. Optimizing for Mobile

The majority of web browsing now happens on a mobile device.

Ecommerce customers often use mobile devices to research, compare and fill up a cart before checking out on a desktop computer.

B2B ecommerce needs mobile-friendly stores that lets customers shop anytime, anywhere and complete one transaction across multiple devices.

More on Optimizing for Mobile

8. Abandoned Cart Notification

Every ecommerce store will have abandoned carts. In fact, according to the Baymard Institute, more than two-thirds of carts are abandoned in ecommerce as a whole.

What’s important to understand is that an abandoned cart doesn’t necessarily equal a dissatisfied shopper. Many of those shoppers are merely researching or comparing with the intention of checking out later.

So ecommerce stores need a way to follow up with abandoned carts. Various reports and studies say that following up will convert 12 to 25 percent of abandoners who will spend 55 percent more than if they were left alone.

An automated email system is a commonsense way to convert abandoners.

9. Line-Item Ship-To

Line-item ship-to lets the buyer send different parts of an order to different places.

A B2C example would be a gift-buyer who sends a tie to his dad in one place and a shirt to a brother in another place. It’s convenient to do that within one order, not to mention that using separate orders could doom price-breaks tied to the number or cost of items purchased.

Line-item ship-to gives control to your customers so they don’t have to jump through hoops to ship two products on the same order to two different addresses.  

10. Product Reviews

Recent studies have shown that shoppers trust product reviews even more than personal recommendations. Reviews are replacing friends and family as the way people gain trust in a store, brand or product.

Yet product reviews are almost unheard of in B2B ecommerce.

That sounds like a problem. But it’s really an opportunity because offering reviews will provide an immediate advantage over most B2B competitors.

Learn more

Essent software makes all of these tools available in B2B ecommerce.

Get in touch with us to find out more about implementing them.

You can also check out our "B2B Cyber Monday” Series.