Turning B2B On-Site Search Into an Efficient Marketing Tool

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For most product-related websites, an on-site search option has become a standard feature, regardless of whether they sell to ordinary shoppers or to business customers. However, for stores that want to turn their search option into an effective marketing tool, it is not enough to simply embed a search box somewhere on their site. Instead, they need to build a fine-tuned and optimized search function that can fetch the exact product a customer is looking for from the database.

This is especially true in the B2B market, where a plain search functionality is often not enough to meet customer expectations and demands. In fact, research related to B2B omnichannel commerce platforms has found that 60 percent of wholesale customers list enhanced search as a top feature they want their online vendors to provide. What’s more, other studies have found that over half of all revenue is generated by just 11 percent of sessions involving on-site search.

As such, B2B companies willing to invest in turning their on-site search into a potential merchandising tool stand to reap multiple benefits.

Why Optimized Search Is Essential in B2B eCommerce

An effective on-site search is even more vital for B2B organizations than for their B2C counterparts. This is because the products B2B companies sell typically have more complex and diverse attributes, variants, and combinations. B2B eCommerce sites also usually offer a much wider range of goods, which can make their sites content-heavy. In turn, B2B product catalogs tend to be large and data-rich, with lots of products, descriptions, and SKUs. Searching through all this data without a robust search engine that can return precise and relevant results can easily become a frustrating experience for potential customers.

Instead, business customers need to be able to quickly find relevant information while using different search variations when looking for a product. Despite this fact, only 40 percent of websites currently provide faceted search (also known as guided navigation), while 70 percent require customers to search using only an exact keyword. Limited or poor on-site search capabilities such as these will not produce positive customer experience and may even rob you of your competitive edge. If they cannot obtain relevant product search results, B2B buyers are likely to switch to an online business supplier with better technology.  

When developing a B2B eCommerce store, it is important to ensure that it incorporates strong search capabilities, including the ability to  support most popular user search queries, so that your business buyers will always find exactly what they want.

Top Popular Search Queries a B2B Site Should Support

By exact keywords

Conducting a search using exact keywords is a standard and simple query type any B2B site should support. For instance,  a buyer may search for a particular product using its exact title, model, or SKU number (e.g., “Tooluxe 31217L Mini Gravity Air Spray Gun”).

By issues to be solved by a product

Although B2B customers are often knowledgeable shoppers, they may not remember an exact item name or product model. This is why they should be able to search for other attributes, such as the issue a product resolves (e.g., “remove varnish stains,” “broken wooden frame,” and so on). This query type might be most relevant to businesses dealing with tools, household supplies, cleaning, or pharmaceutical products.   

By descriptors

Users may also want to search for items based on their descriptions, characteristics, or categories, especially for specialized products or those related to specific occasions or time periods (e.g., “short-sleeved uniform” or “snow tires”). To enable this type of search, companies should enhance product data by creating more nuanced item descriptions. In addition, they should tag products so that the search function returns appropriate results even when a request contains words not included in product descriptions or item titles.

By product traits

Business customers frequently search for specific goods using their features or qualitative characteristics, such as material or color (e.g., certain light bulb efficiency or car interior accessories of certain colors). This search option can be supported via built-in filters that allow users to sort out only products matching particular qualifiers.

Turning B2B On-Site Search Into an Efficient Marketing Tool

Solutions for Improving Your Customers’ Site Search and Digital Buying Experience

Knowing your customers’ search behavior patterns and making sure your webstore search function can support them is only half the battle. Rather, a positive site search experience is just one component of the seamless digital buying experience your company should be trying to give its clients.

When assessing eCommerce platforms to grow your B2B company with, be sure to choose solutions that have been specifically designed for a challenging B2B environment, as they will be the only software programs capable of addressing the complexities of B2B transactions. Search is merely one capability among many other comprehensive B2B features.

Summing Up

If your business customers do not get any relevant search results when they use your webstore search function, it will inevitably ruin their customer experience. They might even take their business elsewhere. To give your clients a positive search experience and to increase customer loyalty and retention, look above standard plain search function and ensure your B2B site has a robust search engine that is responsive to different search queries.

However, keep in mind that the availability of optimized on-site search is not enough by itself to benefit your clients. As a business owner, you’re responsible for a rich data pool, enhanced site content, and extended product descriptions and tagging. In order to return meaningful search results, it is mandatory to build out these elements.

Our final tip for B2B company owners: When exploring the market for a viable eCommerce solution that can successfully scale your business, take a look at platforms with B2B nativity, since B2C-purposed systems simply can’t accommodate complex B2B ecommerce solutions. Fortunately for you, however, OroCommerce can.

Published March 28, 2017