14 Focus Points - B2B eCommerce

Healthy Site Search is Business Critical

Wednesday, March 06, 2024
Layer One - Director of Marketing - Adrian Folsom

Everyone knows site search for an online store should work “well,” but how strongly does it impact revenue?

75% of B2B buyers use site search to find products

from Forrester, "The State of B2B Commerce: How to Win in the Digital Age“ (2019)

Typically, once a prospective buyer lands on a website, their customer journey begins at the search bar, especially in B2B. 

This is because convenience is a top reason to buy online. B2B buyers are busy professionals who need to find what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently and then move on. Also, many B2B buyers are entering a site with an idea of what they need to buy or even a BOM to procure. 

A 2021 report ‘The Future of B2B Purchasing’ by Digital Commerce 360 found, “When the survey asked respondents to rate the importance of B2B eCommerce site features, the largest percentage of respondents, 65%, cited the ease of finding products via site search and navigation.” (Figure 1)


 Importance of Features on B2B eCommerce Site
Figure 1


68% of B2B buyers don’t talk to sales reps and instead do their own research

from Deloitte, “Close the expectation gap with your B2B customers” (2021)

Interestingly, a great product search is so essential that B2B buyers often turn to Amazon to find products despite not necessarily buying there. 

Master B2B’s ‘2023 State of B2B eCommerce Report’ says that “When asked which specific sites they begin their research on, one-third of buyers say they start on Amazon, 26% on a search engine, and 23% on a brand manufacturer or industry distributor website." (Figure 2)

“The good news for these manufacturers and distributors is that 41% of buyers say they ultimately make their purchase on those sites, suggesting that while they search on Amazon because of the ease of use and selection, they prefer to actually make a purchase directly from the brands they trust.”


Where B2B Buyers Begin Searching
Figure 2, from Master B2B



61% of B2B sellers lost sales because site search wasn’t good enough

from Master B2B, “The 2023 State of B2B eCommerce Report” (2023)

Curiously, “it’s good enough” or “it’s not great, but it gets the job done” is a common refrain when manufacturers and distributors describe their website’s search. But that mentality can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Contractors with more than 20 employees are twice as likely to purchase online, according to a survey of 543 Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors in the ASA (American Supply Association) ‘2023 Voice of Contractor Survey Report.’ Further, buyers under 45 are also twice as likely to buy online. So, not supporting their demand for ease and efficiency causes these large accounts and an increasing demographic of buyers to take their business to a site that meets their needs.

Additional statistics are staggering. Forrester's ‘The State of B2B Commerce: How to Win in the Digital Age’ found:

• A 25% decrease in conversion rates on B2B eCommerce sites with a poor search experience.
• 40% of B2B buyers abandon their search if they cannot find what they are looking for.


30% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase because of good search

from Forrester, "The State of B2B Commerce: How to Win in the Digital Age“ (2019)

Many statistics reference amorphous terms like “good” or “ease,” but it can be challenging to determine if a site meets these qualities. This is because a truly good search experience is the result of a suite of things working in unison, from highly technical to highly philosophical.  


A few tests to get a basic understanding of whether a site’s search is “good” are:

  1. Search for a generic class of product on the site, are the results what's expected? For instance, on a plumbing site, when searching for “water heater” are the top results for various water heaters to buy (or even better, a landing page with brands and filters)? Or are drain pans and stands returned? See additional search terms.
  2. Obtain a BOM from a customer and try to add the items to the site’s cart in the same way a busy contractor would. Or use our Sample BOM here.
  3. Does a site’s search deliver on the buyer's search intent? See a quick overview of what search intent is and run each of the three behaviors through the search bar.

What can be done?

Fixing search is not as simple as twisting knobs or dials on the eCommerce platform. Getting search in shape is similar to getting a person in shape.

When someone begins their fitness journey, they hire a personal trainer who helps them establish goals, create a customized plan, and measure where they’re at and their progress.  They educate on nutrition and health concepts and show how to use the machines and the proper form for lifting weights or exercises. They’re even in the gym helping lift that last rep. Plus, they check in and support holding the person accountable. 

Layer One’s Search Fitness Program is a 90-day process that combines each of those components to turn visitors into buyers. 

Reach out today to see how the Search Fitness Program will help your site's search!





Empower Search is the fourth of Layer One's

To see the other 13, get the B2B eCommerce Distributors Success Guide!


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1Forrester, "The State of B2B Commerce: How to Win in the Digital Age“ (2019) [No longer available]
2Deloitte, “Close the expectation gap with your B2B customers” (2021)
3Master B2B, “The 2023 State of B2B eCommerce Report” (2023)
Digital Commerce 360 “The Future of B2B Purchasing” (2021)
McKinstry, “The future of B2B sales is hybrid” (2022)
ASA (American Supply Association). “2023 Voice of Contractor Survey Report” (2023)


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