How to Build a High-Performance B2B Storefront

B2B buyers have different needs—and your B2B storefront should reflect that. Here's where to start.

By Vanessa Loughty | March 8, 2023 | 6 minute read
Man in a warehouse shops for his wholesale business on a laptop.



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Once upon a time, online wholesalers thought that a B2B storefront had to be utilitarian, no-frills, and get the job done with as little “window dressing” as possible. Early B2B shopping portals looked more like spreadsheets, as it was assumed that these buyers didn’t require sophisticated sales presentations. Those days are long gone. Today, a successful B2B buying journey must incorporate a range of efficiency tools, specialized customer service, and a dazzling creative display that is as compelling as it is functional. B2B ecommerce is still the dominant form of online selling, and with more competition than ever, sellers need to pull out all the stops when designing their homepages and entire websites. In this blog, we’ll explore the qualities of an outstanding B2B storefront, and dig into what B2B buyers want from an ecommerce shopping experience. 

B2B Buyers are Different

It’s true, B2B buyers do expect a different kind of shopping experience from their B2C counterparts. They aren’t just buying for themselves; they’re purchasing on behalf of their company, and their decisions impact multiple stakeholders. They need to be able to research, compare, and make informed decisions quickly and efficiently. That means your B2B commerce storefront needs to be immediately easy to navigate, and your product catalog needs to be clearly informative and searchable. That’s where to start. 

Unique aspects of the B2B buying process:

  • Buying is typically more complex than B2C
  •  B2B buyers may have a dedicated procurement team
  • Purchases might require many levels of approval
  • Buying usually involves large, complicated, and/or recurring orders
  • B2B accounts often have pre-negotiated terms which may require price quotes

Your B2B online store needs to be able to handle these workflows and automate as much of the process as possible, in order to make your buyer’s job easier. Applying your B2B expertise for the purpose of improving your customer's experience is what it's all about. This immediately brings up more considerations:  

  • Is your website fast enough? 
  • Have you created a user experience that flows intuitively without any extra steps? 
  • Have you integrated pre-negotiated account data into the shopping journey, so content is relevant and a breeze to navigate? 
  • Can you anticipate your customers’ pain points and solve them pre-emptively?

Just like retail audiences, professional wholesale buyers need to be dazzled by thoughtful features and brilliant presentations in order to choose your business for their purchases. Think about the many factors which influence your customer’s buying habits, and let that guide the way you build your online business.

Qualities of an Outstanding B2B Storefront

Your ecommerce platform and the website you build on it are the primary venues for interacting with your online customers. Different platforms offer different features, and many do not cater specifically to B2B buying. So when crafting your storefront, it’s important to find out if your ecommerce platform itself is capable of supporting a strong B2B business. To build a B2B shop that works, you need a B2B ecommerce platform that has the following qualities: 

1. Customization 

You need to be able to tailor the total user experience to meet the unique needs of your B2B customers. That means being able to create custom product catalogs, B2B ecommerce pricing structures, and ordering methods which are specific to your products. 

2. Integration 

Your need to integrate your B2B ecommerce seamlessly with your existing systems, such as your CRM, ERP, and marketing automation tools. Data integration is crucial to successful B2B selling. 

3. Flexibility 

B2B buying processes can be complex, and your B2B platform needs to be able to accommodate them. That means having flexible workflows and integrations that can handle everything from requisition orders to procurement approvals. 

4. Personalization 

B2B buyers want a personalized shopping experience. Your B2B sales platform should be able to personalize the product recommendations, pricing, and visual promotions that your customers see. 

5. Analytics 

You need to be able to track and analyze your B2B customers’ buying behaviors so you can optimize your B2B sales portal and product catalog. 

Finally, your B2B store should reflect your brand and communicate your value proposition to your customers. It should be easy to navigate, and your product catalog should be comprehensive and informative. In short, your B2B ecommerce platform should provide you with every tool you need to create a storefront that is tailored to your specific B2B customers’ unique needs. 

How important is site speed for B2B buyers? 

Site speed is crucial for B2B buyers. In today's fast-paced business environment, B2B buyers expect an online shopping experience that is fast, efficient, and easy to use. Slow site speed can negatively impact user experience and increase bounce rates, leading to lost sales and revenue. Additionally, site speed is an important factor in search engine optimization (SEO), as search engines prioritize fast-loading websites. A B2B ecommerce platform must prioritize site speed and provide fast, reliable, and scalable infrastructure to ensure a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for customers. This is non-negotiable. 

WHITEPAPER: Learn how to leverage a B2B and B2C strategy and take control of  your sales channels.

Does a B2B storefront need to look flashy? What B2B Can Learn From B2C 

B2B buyers are just as responsive to creative website design as B2C shoppers. Here’s what B2B storefronts can learn from B2C: design elements that enhance user experience, such as responsive design, high-quality visual media, and mobile optimization need to look and feel compelling to the B2B buyers who visit your site. From colorful imagery and videos to clever, informative copy, the total sales presentation must go far beyond the “spreadsheet selling” of old fashioned wholesale.

Do you need customized B2B ecommerce solutions? 

Customized B2B ecommerce solutions can provide several benefits for businesses looking to optimize their online selling operations.  

  •  B2B companies often have unique requirements and workflows that “off-the-shelf” ecommerce platforms simply can’t accommodate. 
  •  Customized solutions can provide tailored functionality that meets the specific needs of the business, its products, and how its customers prefer to shop. 
  • Custom solutions can help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors and provide a more personalized shopping experience for customers. 

Customized solutions can require more time, planning, and resources to implement, but quite simply, businesses make this investment in order to serve their customers better. The increase in revenue, customer loyalty, and ROI that a custom B2B storefront can bring is generally all the justification any business needs. 

An effective B2B storefront requires ecommerce expertise plus a deep understanding of customers

By partnering with the right ecommerce platform, you can create a high-performance storefront that meets your customers’ goals and grows your business. When evaluating B2B ecommerce platforms, look for one that offers the customization, speed, integration, flexibility, personalization, and analytics tools you need to create an outstanding B2B storefront and every other page that comprises the shopping experience. With a customer-focused approach, you can turn your site into a powerful revenue-generating machine.

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Vanessa Loughty

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