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B2B Product Page Challenges, Opportunities

Posted on 6.29.2014

Manufacturers and distributors provide some pretty complex use-cases when it comes to doing business on the Web. 

The similarity between them and their direct-to-consumer counterparts is that their customers expect the same high-quality user experience, according to Linda Taddonio, chief ecommerce strategy officer at Insite Software. However, the B2B persona typically has additional, deeper requirements for product information.  

Taddonio says examples of this include product specification information, product diagrams, installation guides, material data safety sheets, product lead times for fulfillment, etc.  Other requirements include more detailed information on inventory availability by warehouse, volume-based pricing, extended attributes, kit information and complementary products. These details go beyond what the typical B2C buyer needs to know to make a purchase decision. 

Due to these complexities, B2B manufacturers have unique challenges when it comes to their product page design.

“B2B manufacturers really need to consider how commerce page templates add to the buyer experience,” said Taddonio. “In B2B, one size does not fit all and if the delivery of the content isn’t easy to view and understand buyers will go elsewhere.”

For example, product lines such as nuts and bolts have a high SKU count within a “family” of products. These are best displayed in a dense grid-style format so that differentiating attributes, such as length or style, can be efficiently presented to and selected by the user, according to Taddonio. 

Similarly, configured products are best presented in a “rendered” format. This requires additional tools to be plugged into the site architecture and page design in order to support the optimal presentation.

“Manufacturers can also benefit from highlighting how their products differentiate from other products on the market,” Taddonio. “This additional content can be developed and presented opportunistically on the page but it should be presented in a way that compares and provides reason to purchase the supplier’s product.”

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Luckily, Taddonio reports that some best practice page designs have started to emerge for B2B focusing on clean and well-formatted pages, attribute driven, with robust features and content (covered in a recent whitepaper by the company). 

“One of the biggest mistakes a B2B seller can make is to intentionally design unique layouts that a buyer has to study in order to accomplish their task,” said Taddonio. “B2B personas work with various commerce and purchasing sites, and the last thing they want to do is spend time figuring out how to use your site. It’s better to focus on the quality and depth of product content than to emphasize unique design.”

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