Industry UX Research
A large-scale research study on how to optimize the User Experience for Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce sites
At Baymard Institute, we have a whole research topic devoted to online shopping UX and usability, specifically for Business-to-Business sites selling products through a B2B e-commerce website.
We’ve identified 270 in-depth User Experience design guidelines that are particularly important to B2B e-commerce sites. By querying 10,000+ UX performance ratings from our past UX audits of B2B sites, against the 700+ UX guidelines in our research catalog, we’ve identified 270 guidelines to be of particular relevance to B2B sites, as they are either highly related to the challenges that B2B sites are facing, or as they are shown to have a relatively high UX impact compared to how many B2B sites get them wrong.
This page provides you a brief overview of Baymard’s B2B UX research. Full access to all of our B2B UX research is available as part of Baymard Premium.
We’ve conducted a B2B UX benchmark, assessing 9 B2B sites across 270+ UX guidelines most applicable to B2B sites. You can view the B2B site’s UX performance in the graph above.
Each theme and topic in the graph above can be expanded for an in-depth view of the ‘current state’ of B2B website UX performances. (scroll down to access the in-depth case-studies for each site)
This is a sub-set of the full benchmark which includes 149 e-commerce sites.
View our full UX benchmark
You can explore our in-depth UX case-studies of the below 9 B2B e-commerce sites. In total, these contain 1,300+ UX performance scores and 1,090+ Best Practice examples from B2B sites.
From a web interface and web user behavior perspective some of the main differences between B2B and B2C e-commerce to keep in mind when making website decisions are:
A stronger segment of domain expert users
The segment of B2B users who are “returning users” will often (but not always) be domain experts. The practical implication is that a segment of users will often have an extreme level of product knowledge and may perform several navigational shortcuts. For example, searching for a SKU (see guideline #333, clicking navigation breadcrumbs (#537 and #828), keyboard tabbing through a form (#657), etc. These behaviors also happen on B2C sites, but typically for a smaller minority of users than what’s observed on B2B sites.
‘Domain Expert’ fallacy
Returning B2B users who are “domain professionals” often constitute a large part of B2B sales. Because of this, we often observe that there’s a tendency for some B2B organizations to neglect their more novice B2B site visitors (to a much larger extent than B2C sites do). These more novice B2B visitors, who are either new to the B2B brand, to the jargon, or the entire industry domain, often then face significant navigational challenges to the point where the website becomes almost un-navigable for uninitiated users. This often presents a missed opportunity for several B2B sites because these novice users can represent a great source for acquiring new customers.
The individual B2B user is often more important
B2B product price points, product margins, and average order values are often significantly higher than on B2C sites. One of the practical implications of this is that B2B sites can often afford design solutions that are more bespoke and customer support heavy — solutions that are often greatly minimized on B2C sites due to margins and user volumes.
B2B users are more purpose-driven
B2B product browsing is typically more intent and problem-driven, with little _ “casual browsing to kill time”_ and fewer impulse purchases (in comparison to B2C). The practical implication of this is that there is a greater tendency among B2B users to, for example, filter by specific product attributes (see our research topic Available Filters), or to perform feature queries (see guideline #340 as they are more likely to be looking for something specific.
High checkout complexity
B2B checkout flows often have a much larger degree of (justifiable) complexity than B2C checkouts. For example, shipping speed and shipping terms can matter a lot more than shipping price. The ordered items are often more complex, therefore typically also requiring a much more perfected step than B2C sites need (see our research topic on Order Review pages). The payment methods are sometimes asynchronous (like invoicing, purchase orders, credits, etc.). More order information is genuinely needed, like separate billing and shipping addresses, VAT numbers, PO numbers, accounting information, etc. These differences don’t mean that B2B checkouts have to be overly complex; it mostly means that it will require an even more careful checkout UX optimization to strike the right balance between ‘feature rich’ and ‘usable’.
The B2B organizational structure is often less web-focused
We observe in B2B auditing that B2B websites are more often siloed into a structure where the e-commerce website functionality is completely separated from “the rest” of the B2B website. Typically, such a structure leads to a main navigation where there’s a navigation item for “Product Catalog” (which contains only a static product catalog, without any e-commerce functionality) that’s then separate from a “Shop/Store” main navigation item (with the e-commerce functionality). In some cases, the e-commerce part of the website is also running on a completely different tech platform than the rest of the website — often causing great on-site search issues for users. Such structures are consistently observed to significantly misalign with the fundamental user perception of what a company website even is.
These differences are covered in the 270 UX guidelines relevant to B2B sites, that you will find in Baymard Premium.