"Self-Serve” B2B on the Rise: What B2B Buyers Expect From Your Shopping Experience

Self-service ecommerce features are increasingly expected by B2B buyers—here’s where to focus.

By Tom Wintaugh | September 18, 2023 | 3 minute read
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According to the most recent TrustPilot “B2B Buying Disconnect” Report, virtually all B2B buyers now want some or all of their online shopping experience to be self-service. Self-serve B2B is a continuation of the “B2C-ification” of B2B ecommerce trend, which describes the increasing preference of professional buyers for user-friendly, interactive, and seamless UI enjoyed by retail ecommerce shoppers.

A New Trend For B2B Buying

Almost 100 percent of B2B buyers report that they prefer self-service ecommerce features. This is in stark contrast to traditional, pre-digital methods for selling wholesale. Historically, B2B sales relied upon a conventional communication techniques, like cold calls, mailed physical catalogs, and ample direct management of accounts by reps. Today’s buyers prefer less contact with ecommerce teams and more direct, interactive control over their shopping experience.

Main findings from the TrustPilot report:

1. B2B buyers have a greater preference for using an ecommerce website than interacting with sales reps.

2. Pricing is the #1 feature buyers want to access by self-service.

3. If product demos require contacting a sales rep, buyers are 40% less likely to make a purchase.

This type of feedback makes it clear that B2B shoppers want total access to all of the information they need to guide purchasing decisions. Ecommerce websites which afford self-service options for pricing, demos, and account info make it easier for prospective buyers to complete a purchase without any additional interaction or resources needed. The trend also benefits merchants, who require less bandwidth to shepherd purchasing when most account info is self-serve.

Dedicated B2B Self-Service Portals

A B2B self-serve "portal" is any ecommerce website that facilitates specific answers and services for individual B2B buyers, after logging into the site. Self-serve portal features and services might include any typical buying and product information, such as the following:

  • Pricing
  • Setting up support tickets
  • Reviewing past orders
  • Re-ordering, billing
  • Price quotes
  • Fulfillment tracking

Allowing accounts to access and self-manage this type of data can be a huge savings for customer service resources, while simultaneously providing a very personalized shopping experience which empowers customers to make decisions (and purchases).

Click to see how Miva scored in the 2023 Paradigm B2B Combine Report (Midmarket Edition)

Product Visualizers, Demos, and Configuring Tools

Can your B2B buyers “test-drive” your products by seeing how they will look and perform in the real world? Can they perform product demos on their own, using automated site tools? Giving customers the showroom experience, with visual tools to help configure attributes, see relative size, and experience use cases in action is an excellent way to help customers learn more about products. We wrote more about how digital showrooms and product visualizers can improve sales results here.

When appropriate, incorporating visual tools which allow shoppers to change product details like color or trim level, see the changes live, and then drop the configured product into a cart for purchase is an excellent way to drive conversions.

Access to Reviews and Testimonials

Customer reviews are an important part of a self-serve B2B sales process, because thorough reviews and case studies can act as a virtual salesperson. By browsing reviews, a buyer can fill in more details about products, and use social proof to inform their purchasing decisions—factors which might previously have been handled by a live rep. It’s important to index review content and tag with relevant product search facets, so users can easily find the content they are looking for.

Self-serve B2B features empower customers to guide their own shopping experience.

Buyers now favor user-friendly interfaces that allow for autonomous management of their shopping experiences, including easy access to pricing, product demos, and reviews. To stay competitive, B2B sellers should consider offering robust self-serve options that allow for greater personalization, more efficiency, and a more direct pathway to purchase.

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About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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Author's Bio

Tom Wintaugh

Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.

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