Search is an essential component of any B2B commerce strategy. In today's digital landscape, it plays a crucial role in the customer journey, allowing buyers to easily find and discover products before making a purchase.
To be successful in B2B search, it's essential to understand that modern buyers have different search habits and expect a seamless, consistent experience across all channels. This requires an omnichannel approach to search, which takes into account both on-site and off-site search options such as marketplaces and search engines.
In this guide, we will explore the importance of search in the B2B customer journey, and provide insights on how to optimize both on-site and off-site search to drive conversions and increase revenue.
The ability to quickly and efficiently find products online is crucial for B2B buyers, but unfortunately, many are still dissatisfied with the search options available to them. Global buyers consider the ease of product discovery to be a critical factor when making online purchases.
When asked about the barriers that prevent them from making more online purchases, buyers continually cite difficulty in finding products as the top reason. Additionally, buyers are increasingly switching suppliers because of issues with product discovery.
For B2B vendors, this highlights the importance of investing in search and providing intuitive, reliable options for customers to find what they need quickly and efficiently. By doing so, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and improve customer satisfaction and retention.
B2B eCommerce search is not just a feature, it's a necessity. In today's digital-first landscape, customers expect to be able to find the products they need quickly and easily. Without a robust search strategy in place, businesses risk losing customers to competitors. Investing in search is not just about providing functionality, but about elevating the customer experience and driving growth.
An effective B2B eCommerce search strategy is essential for providing customers with a seamless and efficient shopping experience. B2B vendors often have extensive product catalogs, making it challenging to provide simple navigation for customers. However, investing in search can help businesses to stand out from competitors and drive growth.
When creating a B2B search strategy, it's essential to consider the type of information that should be made available in search results and how to coordinate search across multiple channels. This includes taking into account buyer preferences and behaviors, as well as technical execution and careful planning.
1. Utilize natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) technologies to understand customer intent and provide relevant search results.
Natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) technologies are powerful tools that can be used to understand customer intent and provide relevant search results in a B2B eCommerce setting.
NLP is a branch of artificial intelligence that enables computers to understand and interpret human language, including text and speech. It can be used to analyze customer queries and understand the intent behind them. For example, if a customer searches for "red widgets," NLP can understand that the customer is looking for a specific type of product (widgets) in a specific color (red).
ML, on the other hand, is a method of teaching computers to learn from data without being explicitly programmed. It can be used to analyze customer search data and identify patterns and trends. For example, ML can be used to understand which products are most frequently searched for and which search terms are most commonly used.
By combining NLP and ML, B2B eCommerce businesses can improve the relevance of their search results and provide a more personalized experience for customers.
Implementing search across all channels, including marketplaces and social media platforms, is an important aspect of a comprehensive B2B eCommerce search strategy. This approach ensures that customers have a consistent experience when searching for products regardless of the channel they are using.
Marketplaces such as Amazon Business, Alibaba, and others are becoming increasingly popular among B2B buyers. By integrating search on these platforms, businesses can reach a wider audience and provide customers with the convenience of searching for products on a platform they are already familiar with. Additionally, many buyers use these marketplaces to discover new products, so implementing search on these platforms can help increase visibility and drive sales.
In the UK and US, 51% of buyers use Amazon Business as their primary search channel, while in China, the figure is even higher at 81%. This shift in search habits has led to a decrease in the use of search engines like Google, with only 20% of B2B buyers using them to find products.
Social media platforms are also becoming important channels for B2B eCommerce. Many businesses use social media to connect with customers and promote their products. Integrating search on social media platforms can help customers easily find products on these channels and increase the chances of them making a purchase.
Providing a consistent search experience across all channels allows businesses to connect with customers on the platforms they are most comfortable with and reach a wider audience.
Optimizing the search function on a B2B eCommerce website is crucial for providing customers with a smooth and efficient shopping experience. One way to do this is by providing advanced search options, such as filters, sorting, and autocomplete suggestions.
Providing advanced search options such as filters, sorting, and autocomplete suggestions can greatly improve the customer experience and increase the chances of them making a purchase. It also demonstrates that the business cares about its customers' needs and wants to make their shopping experience as easy as possible.
Regularly reviewing and analyzing search data is an essential part of maintaining and improving a B2B eCommerce search strategy. This includes analyzing customer queries and click-through rates (CTR) to understand how customers are interacting with the search function and identify areas for improvement.
Data on customer queries can provide valuable insights into what customers are searching for and how they are phrasing their queries. This can help businesses understand their customers' needs and preferences, and make adjustments to the search function to better match those needs. For example, if many customers are searching for a specific product using a certain phrase, businesses can optimize the search function to better match that phrase and improve the chances of customers finding the product they are looking for.
CTR data can also provide valuable insights into how customers are interacting with the search function. For example, if a high percentage of customers are clicking on a specific product or category, it's a good indication that the search function is working well for those products or categories. On the other hand, if a high percentage of customers are not finding what they are looking for, it's a sign that the search function needs improvement.
The team at Echidna has extensive experience in optimizing search for a variety of industries and regions, and we understand the nuances of user behavior. Our search experts can provide a detailed assessment of your on-site search experience and identify any underlying issues that may be hindering the discoverability of your content and products.
We will work with you to understand and benchmark the quality of your search and develop a roadmap for improving performance through people, processes, and technology. By improving the relevance and accuracy of your on-site search, we can help you provide a better experience for your customers and drive growth for your business. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your B2B search strategy as part of an omnichannel approach.
Watch and listen as Echidna's President, Mike Pierce, discusses how our focused team works to help the B2B market innovate with modern commerce solutions to fit their needs and maintain a competitive edge. Contact us to start a conversation about your own business at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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