12 ways to increase conversion rates in B2B e-commerce
It’s estimated that the average conversion rate in B2B e-commerce sits at around 6-10%, meaning that the overwhelming majority of potential transactions either don’t happen at all or they’re taken to an offline channel for completion.
Either way, the big question is “why?”
If you have built an e-commerce platform in an effort to offer the online self-serve experience that millennial B2B buyers desire, why are they forced to finish their purchase offline or, worse, abandon it altogether? The logical conclusion is that your site has barriers which are dampening your conversion rate potential.
How to increase B2B e-commerce conversion rates
To help you identify and remove the blockers currently preventing your customers from completing their purchases online, we’ve put together this list of 12 ways that you can increase conversion rates on your B2B e-commerce website.
Although not as simple as in consumer commerce where a basic offer can be all it takes to convert an impulsive, emotionally driven buyer, many of these tips and tricks take cues from successful B2C practises.
We’ll also learn that increasing conversion rates in B2B e-commerce isn’t always about attracting and retaining new customers. Instead, there are ways you can boost the number of completed purchases by users who are already visiting your site.
Let’s get into it.
1. Know your audience
The key to making your customers convert lies in understanding who they are and why they’re visiting your online store. Taking a step back to reassess your target personas will help you to craft the most effective marketing, which will in turn lead to higher quality leads and improved conversions.
Take a marketplace stocking an expansive range of items from homeware and furniture to apparel and jewellery, for example. Their target personas might include owners of small, physical stores alongside head buyers for international corporations. These two types of individuals are going to respond to different messaging and might have to be advertised to in different places.
Further still, we all know that B2B transactions involve a number of different decision makers and influencers, so it’s important to make sure that you’re targeting the right types of buyers at the right time for maximum impact.
2. Simplify the sales funnel
Lengthy forms are a conversion killer, so you need to trim them down as much as possible. On B2B e-commerce sites, there’s usually two main places where such forms exist and they sit at either end of the overarching customer journey.
The first is likely to be some kind of sign up, registration or account creation form. In B2C this can easily be sidestepped with a guest checkout option, but that’s often unviable within business trade where customers need to be verified as genuine business buyers. How do we get around this? By asking only for the information required to set up an account:
Business name & address.
Individual buyer name(s).
The second and more lethal of these two conversion killers is an overly complicated checkout form, which we will cover in more detail later in this article.
3. Enable robust search & navigation
Thanks to intelligent autofill suggestions on search engines and consumer commerce websites, business buyers have come to expect the same functionality from B2B trade sites. This capability increases the odds that a customer will find the item they need and convert and is especially useful in industries like construction or electronics where products can have many different names, SKUs or other identifiers.
Meanwhile, a robust and logical navigation system can help customers to easily locate the products they require, especially in marketplaces with sprawling inventories.
BOX makes it easy for customers to locate desired products with a simple but effective table of categories.
Once clicked on, each category can be further refined by features like condition, price, brand and more. BOX also enables a ‘quick links’ section directing users to some of the most popular pages within the selected category.
Ultimately, if you make it as easy as possible for a potential customer to find what they’re looking for in the shortest time and the fewest number of clicks, they’re much more likely to convert.
The challenge, of course, is that product catalogues are often far more complex in B2B than they are in B2C, making it much trickier to achieve good searchability. This makes it all the more important to ensure your product descriptions are fully optimised.
4. Optimise product descriptions
In order to drive high quality inbound sales, your product descriptions – and general website content – need to be optimised for search engines. This is called SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation.
Although SEO can get complicated, optimising your product descriptions doesn’t have to be. You’re essentially aiming to match keywords on the product description page to the search queries and intent of your target customers. In turn, this brings organic traffic to your website, i.e., visitors who you aren’t paying for.
For example, below are a few closely related keywords and their average monthly search volumes:
Fashion wholesale UK (210)
Wholesale clothing UK (3,146)
Apparel wholesale UK (14)
Evidently, ‘wholesale clothing UK’ would be the highest priority keyword for those looking to drive higher levels of traffic to a fashion-focused web store or marketplace based in the UK.
It helps to know your potential customer well enough to know how they search for products, but you may also need to do some keyword research or consult an SEO specialist to ensure your web pages are optimised for driving relevant customers to your site.
Following SEO best practices will mean that your website is discoverable on search engines and your buyers will land on relevant product pages, ultimately leading to higher B2B conversions.
5. Optimise for mobile
Alright, we know that B2B purchases are traditionally less likely to happen on a mobile device than in consumer commerce, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to forgo any kind of mobile optimisation. In fact, studies have shown that business buyers are spending more time on mobile devices and less time on desktop.
The clean layout of Paris Fashion Shops’ mobile site helps users to find the information they need to make an informed purchase.
However, if a potential customer visits your mobile site and they’re greeted with slow load times, thoughtless layouts and unresponsive buttons, you can kiss that conversion goodbye. It’s estimated that up to 98% of medium-sized B2B e-commerce businesses have not yet optimised their mobile sites – is yours one of them?
6. Keep it personal
81% of B2B buyers now rely on e-commerce stores to make repeat purchases, so insights into past order history and options like one-click buying are key for driving higher conversions. The good news is that dynamic personalisation of content, messaging and offers is easier than ever, so you can give your customers the unique, tailored experience they require with minimal effort.
Buyers also appreciate product recommendations based on their current basket or purchase history. BOX demonstrates this practice in the example below where customers are offered a discount if they purchase a monitor arm to accompany their new monitor.
They take it one step further by also providing a list of similar products and a carousel of compatible accessories below the product description.
7. Build trust
Did you know that 81% of B2B buyers think the relationship between buyer and supplier is important in the buying process? How about the fact that 84% would choose to buy from a supplier they had a great relationship with, even if business terms were less preferential?
Building trust and loyalty will help you to keep customers converting for months and years to come, but such credibility can be hard to achieve. Below are a few trust-building activities to help you get started.
Potential customers can be converted by impactful case studies which demonstrate how businesses like theirs have experienced tangible benefits from using your online store or marketplace to complete their B2B purchases.
For example, we created a case study with Ankorstore which explores how Hokodo’s B2B Buy Now, Pay Later solution became an essential part of their proposition as a marketplace.
Similarly, testimonials can help build trust with prospective customers. They usually take the format of a short quote from an existing customer, detailing the successes of the relationship. A good testimonial is a hugely valuable asset so make sure it has a place of pride and prominence on your website.
Displaying customer logos on your website is also an effective trust signal. When deciding which logos to include, make sure to include brands that your key customers will recognise as their competition or peers.
Accreditations & memberships
Does your business hold any accreditations or memberships? Have you been nominated for any industry awards? This kind of recognition from industry bodies, institutes or publications can help potential customers see your brand as trustworthy and legitimate, so make sure it’s on display.
Potential customers are more likely to convert if they feel satisfied that you’re doing everything you can to protect their data, such as personal information and payment details. This means ensuring that you’ve implemented recognised cybersecurity verifications at the right stages of the checkout and making customers aware of these efforts.
8. Be transparent
Part of the trust-building process involves full transparency around things like pricing and shipping costs. B2B buyers don’t want to be hit with unexpected fees or taxes when they’re just about to checkout, and doing so will likely send them running to the competition.
In the example from Tredo below, customers can see key info such as delivery fees and shipping times of a particular seller on the marketplace before they’ve even begun browsing their products.
Think about displaying accurate information like stock levels as well as delivery windows based on the customer’s business address.
9. Tweak your CTAs
A call to action (CTA) is one of the most important elements of your web page, display advert, social media post or email copy because it explicitly tells your customer what you want them to do next. Often taking the form of a clickable button or text hyperlink, effective CTAs usually include simple directives such as “Buy now”, “Download today” or “Sign up here”.
For example, on Ankorstore’s homepage, new merchants are prompted to register for a free account:
While on item description pages, customers are encouraged to add products to their basket:
Sometimes, simply tweaking your CTAs can be all it takes to instigate a flurry of conversions. Take a look at the CTA buttons on your key site pages and assess the following:
Is the CTA visible on the page?
How big is it? How high up on the page?
Does the colour stand out?
Is it obvious what the customer needs to do?
Is it written in the clearest way possible?
Does it create a sense of urgency?
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to change, set up a series of A/B tests to find which option provides the best results for your CTAs.
10. Enable pre-orders
You know who can’t convert? A customer who wants to purchase an out of stock product. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to fix this: by enabling pre-orders on your store.
By now we’re all familiar with pre-orders in consumer commerce. They act as an effective way to generate buzz about an upcoming product launch, test customer demand and secure some early sales. In recent years, they’ve been particularly successful in the video game industry.
In B2B, the customer benefits of pre-orders are slightly different. Rather than generating hype, you’re making life easier for your trade customers. They don’t have to worry about returning to your site at a later date to attempt another purchase. Furthermore, assured that the product will be coming back in stock soon and satisfied that they’ve secured what they need, they don’t have to deal with the hassle of finding a new supplier.
You don’t even have to state that the product is currently unavailable. In the example below, Materials Market doesn’t explicitly use the words ‘out of stock’ or ‘pre-order’, instead opting to highlight that the product won’t be delivered for over a week. By comparison, items in stock on the site can be delivered within 2 days.
The benefit to merchants and marketplaces is that conversion rates can grow, even when stock isn’t immediately available to dispatch.
11. Retarget cart abandoners
When you operate in a highly specific niche and only accept purchases from registered customers, it can be tough to increase new traffic to your B2B e-commerce store or marketplace. But increasing conversion rates doesn’t always have to mean bringing in new business.
Also known as remarketing, retargeting is a type of paid media which targets potential buyers who have already visited specific pages on your site but failed to complete a purchase. They are shown relevant visual or text ads when they visit other websites to remind them of the products they expressed an interest in.
Email can also be used for retargeting if your customer was signed into their account while browsing. As a consumer, you’ll likely have received an email like the one below reminding you about an item left in your basket on an e-commerce site. In B2B, this works in exactly the same way.
97% of people who visit your site for the first time leave without making a purchase. Instead of always focusing on new leads, consider allocating some budget towards abandoned cart recovery by retargeting those visitors who have already made it some way down the conversion funnel in the past.
Clearly, for many e-commerce stores and marketplaces, conversions are being lost at the final moment due to a complex, convoluted or downright crappy checkout. There’s a few ways to avoid this.
Firstly, you should make sure that you aren’t asking for any more than the minimum information required to fulfil the order – this ties in with our earlier point on simplifying the sales funnel. B2B buyers are busy people and want to spend as little time as possible on your website, so don’t hold them up by asking for unnecessary info at checkout.
Realistically a checkout page should include only include:
Billing and shipping Information: Name, business name, email address, shipping address, phone number.
Payment methods, shipping options and delivery fees.
Discounts and coupons.
Order summary: product images, price breakdown and the total amount.
And as you’ve likely already taken some of this information from the customer when they set up their trade account on your website, an autofill option should be provided as standard.
Finally, reassess the payment options and methods you are providing at checkout. Most business customers expect to be able to make purchases on credit, as this has been the norm within B2B commerce for hundreds of years. However, due to the complexity of offering trade credit online, many merchants are unable to provide this service and subsequently miss out on conversions.
Meanwhile, the merchants who do offer payment terms online often ask customers to fill out lengthy forms and wait days for a response which, unsurprisingly, is another big conversion killer.
Hokodo’s B2B Buy Now, Pay Later solution takes the fundamentals of traditional trade credit and makes them fit for online use. Sophisticated underwriting rules mean you can offer payment terms instantly, even on a customer’s first purchase, without any need for tedious paper forms.
B2B merchants and marketplaces integrated with Hokodo's B2B BNPL solution see an average uplift of 40% in conversion rate. Book a demo today to find out how we can help you experience the same success.