The growth of online B2B marketplaces has been made possible by advances in marketplace platform technology and the increasing digital maturity of B2B sellers and buyers.
However, the digital maturation of buyers is a double-edged sword. While buyers who are digitally astute make online B2B marketplaces possible, they are also coming to expect a user experience (UX) like those of online B2C marketplaces.
But providing an Amazon-like UX is more difficult in B2B than B2C due to the nature of B2B transactions. They typically involve higher costs, greater risk, and longer buying cycles. Pricing is more volatile and often negotiated or set by auction. Terms are more complex.
Nonetheless, online B2B marketplaces cannot afford to ignore the importance of matching the B2C UX as closely as possible. As platforms continue to grow in their capabilities, and adopters of these platforms develop B2C-style UXs, corporate buyers will eschew online marketplaces that are relatively difficult to use. Ease of use is table stakes to reach buyers.
So when choosing a B2B marketplace platform, the goal is to follow B2C best practices while adding necessary B2B functionality. Therefore, you should select a solution with features that work to create a B2C-like UX, such as:
- easy navigation
- filtered searchability
- product categorisation
- recommendation algorithms that “learn”
- clear-cut checkout processes
- multiple payment and shipping options
- functionality on mobile devices.
You also need a platform that accommodates the more-complex nature of B2B transactions, with the ability to customise pricing (including negotiated and contract pricing), manage workflows and permissions, provide customised catalogues, offer checkout support, and otherwise meet the needs of corporate buyers.
The most-advanced B2B platforms (e.g., our Perfect Exchange platform) deliver this combination of a B2C-like UX with the capability to handle the intricacies of B2B. Enterprises can use such a platform to better serve existing customers and reach new customers whom they otherwise couldn’t.
The UX is only one aspect of an optimised marketplace, but it’s a vital one. A poor UX just won’t get the job done.
Generally speaking, online B2B marketplaces still lag online B2C marketplaces in the quality of their UX, but the gap is closing, and those B2B marketplaces that don’t keep pace with the move toward more customer-friendly buy/sell interactions will find themselves at a distinct competitive disadvantage—while those that embrace the technology that can make a B2B marketplace feel like a B2C marketplace will stand out.
Business buyers and sellers may not be spending their own money, but they nonetheless have a lot on the line. They’re human, and B2B marketplaces that interact with them on a personalised, easy-to-use level are those that will succeed.
For more content: