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Lessons learned building B2B commerce stores

James Davis
James Davis
Shopify Lead
7 min read
22 April 2024

Consumer-focused commerce platforms have been providing seamless and user-friendly interfaces for years. But by 2025, Gartner predicts that most B2B transactions will be digital, too. 

No surprise here. B2B brands increasingly recognize the need to prioritize online channels for sales and customer interaction. 

At DEPT®, we help all types of brands build e-commerce experiences, and we’ve seen the unique challenges that B2B brands face. Since they can be quite different from their B2C counterparts, we’ve compiled some wisdom for brands looking to launch or revamp a B2B commerce experience. 

Building trust and credibility is more important than selling 

In B2B commerce, the adage “trust is earned, not given” resonates deeply. Unlike B2C, B2B transactions often involve significant financial investments and long-term partnerships. Usually, this can only happen if you have trust and reliability. Here’s how to design for both of those: 

Prioritizing your client’s needs
Knowing that B2B isn’t about impulse purchases, don’t use simplified processes or quick transactions. Instead, try to understand individual needs and complex business requirements to offer them the most suitable solution. 

Promoting transparency
Transparency is a cornerstone of B2B commerce strategy, so provide transparent pricing models and clear terms and conditions. This will inspire confidence in users and strengthen their sense of security and reliability.

Providing exceptional customer support
Recognize customer support as an integral part of CX. Whether through FAQs, chatbots, or personalized assistance, do your best to meet your client’s needs and concerns. 

Making informative and compelling content
Helpful content can educate your B2B clients while cultivating a sense of trust and authority in your industry. Because it serves as a channel for communication and engagement, invest resources in content that resonates with your target audience. 

For intricate products, consider “educational commerce”

B2B commerce is dominated by complex, expensive, or configurable products, but incorporating an “educational commerce” experience can simplify the customer journey. 

One of our manufacturing clients provides cutting-edge electronic measurement solutions and has a large catalog with hundreds of products. Seemingly similar products can have massive price differences. 

So instead of overwhelming customers with a grid of products, we built an educational journey into their website. With model number searches and detailed information about each product’s features and functionality, customers now have a much easier path to purchase.

Our approach was based on the realization that trust and loyalty can be gained through commercial offers and a comprehensive understanding of products. That’s also why we created a modern and user-friendly educational platform for engineers within the same web experience. 

Because of this, website visitors can be guided toward a specific objective while experiencing various types of content. It has greatly improved the site’s flow and enabled the brand to gather valuable user insights for targeted marketing initiatives.  

Think solution-driven over design-driven 

B2B customers are looking for more than just aesthetically pleasing products or services, but also solutions that deliver tangible value and meet their core business goals. By shifting the focus from design aesthetics to practical functionality, you can enhance the B2B experience and foster deeper connections with your customers.

Central to this approach is the recognition that B2B customers often have unique requirements and preferences shaped by industry, scale, and specific use cases. You can meet them through product configurations, flexible pricing plans, or personalized service-level agreements.

Also, simplify the ordering process with one-click ordering options. This helps users place repeat orders quickly, increasing convenience and contributing to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.

For B2B clients accustomed to traditional ordering methods such as telephone transactions, the move to online platforms is a significant opportunity to optimize operations. So invest more in intuitive online interfaces and robust back-end systems.

Understand the nuances of your product mix and pricing dynamics to provide value-oriented solutions for B2B clients. Using data analytics and market insights, you’ll develop pricing strategies that reflect your customers’ unique needs and budgetary constraints. This will also allow you to offer flexible payment and credit options to meet different buying preferences.

Consider complex paths to purchase 

While in B2C, individuals typically make quick decisions about purchases for personal use, B2B involves complex processes and multiple stakeholders.

Imagine this: An individual contributor needs a new product for their team. They research options, collect proposals, and put together a presentation for stakeholders. After the stakeholders give the okay, they submit a request to their company admin to make the purchase. 

In addition, a central part of a B2B purchase is filling out and approving forms. During this process, companies implement strict confidentiality measures to protect sensitive product and business information. Each step of the purchase process is thoroughly reviewed and documented to ensure compliance with internal protocols and industry regulations.

You have to keep all this in mind when start working with B2B commerce. To navigate the complex processes with ease, you need to implement solutions for seamless collaboration among stakeholders and implement approval processes.

Also, don’t forget about the distributors, as they are often at the center of the process. For the above-mentioned client, we implemented custom integrations to connect users with distributors’ inventory. This made it possible to see product availability in real time without the need for manual intervention. As a result, the purchase process became simplified and efficient.  

Bring your B2C and B2B under one experience

Traditionally, many companies have used separate platforms for B2C and B2B, each with its functionalities and user interfaces. However, this approach fragments the CX and adds unnecessary complexity to the buying process. So it’s worth adopting the concept of a unified website seamlessly integrating B2C and B2B offers.

In this way, you can create a single digital storefront that meets the diverse needs of all customers. It improves the overall CX and allows you to implement common logic and functionality, optimizing development efforts and reducing operational overhead.

One prime example is Shopify’s B2B mode, which features customizable product configurators and dynamic content rendering. These features allow you to create personalized experiences for certain audience segments. 

The guest user feature can also change the way content is delivered to users based on their identity or online behavior. With this capability, you can dynamically customize content and presentation to meet the unique needs and preferences of each user.

Creating components that serve B2C and B2B audiences requires careful attention to detail and a deep understanding of business logic. So before you start implementing, think carefully about the logic behind these components and how they are interconnected. In the long term, this will reduce your costs, optimize operations, and deliver exceptional customer experiences across all touchpoints.

Exports in B2B commerce, we can help design, develop, and optimize your store.  Reach out today. 


Shopify Lead

James Davis