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Mastering B2B Buying: Shopping versus Ordering

Know the differences between B2B buyers who are shopping versus B2B buyers who are ordering/reordering.

In today's dynamic business landscape, the digital revolution has revolutionized B2B transactions. With growing acceptance of digital platforms among B2B buyers, businesses must adapt to their unique needs throughout the buying journey.

One fundamental aspect to consider is the differentiation between B2B buyers who are in the shopping (or exploring) phase versus those who are in the ordering (or reordering) phase. While both groups play vital roles in the B2B ecosystem, their needs, priorities, and expectations significantly diverge. Consequently, B2B eCommerce solutions must address the unique demands of both shopping and ordering buyer personas.

The Shopping Experience: Exploring the Possibilities

B2B shoppers approach the digital realm as a vast marketplace, where research, evaluation, and comparison of products are vital. This phase is characterized by an in-depth exploration of various offerings, seeking the ideal solution to fulfill their specific business requirements. These shoppers prioritize rich product information, comprehensive descriptions, detailed specifications, and even customer reviews and case studies to make informed decisions.

The Ordering (or Reordering) Experience: Efficiency is Key

Once the exploration phase is completed, B2B buyers transition into the ordering or reordering process, where efficiency and streamlined procurement take center stage. The focus shifts towards seamless and intuitive ordering experiences with easy-to-use management tools. These buyers require fast logins, fast/intuitive search and navigation, Quick Order pad functionality, immediate access to shopping lists or catalogs, account-specific pricing, the ability to upload orders, and fast checkout process.

Addressing Two Sides of B2B Buying: The Role of B2B Ecommerce Solutions

To succeed and cater to the diverse needs of B2B buyers, businesses must adopt a comprehensive B2B ecommerce platform that seamlessly integrates shopping and ordering experiences.

An effective B2B ecommerce platform must offer rich product information, intuitive search functionalities, comparison tools, and customizable options during the exploration phase. Simultaneously, it should provide streamlined ordering processes, efficient procurement workflows, order tracking, and account management tools for a smooth transactional experience.

By recognizing the contrasting requirements of B2B buyers who shop vs. order/reorder, businesses can tailor their website software to optimize conversions, build long-term customer relationships, and thrive in the competitive B2B market.

In the following article, we delve deeper into the distinctive needs of B2B shoppers and orderers, exploring key strategies, benefits and best practices to create a comprehensive B2B eCommerce experience that caters to both groups.

Which Phase is Your Buyer In? Shopping or Ordering?

When it comes to B2B buying, understanding the priorities of buyers in the shopping (exploration) and ordering (reordering) phases is crucial for a successful business. B2B buyers in the shopping phase focus on gathering information, comparing options, and finding solutions that align with their specific needs.

In contrast, during the ordering or reordering phase, efficiency, reliability, and convenience take center stage. B2B Buyers prioritize a streamlined ordering process, reliable stock availability, and flexible payment and shipping options.

By understanding these priorities, you can optimize the B2B ecommerce experience to meet the diverse needs of buyers at every stage.


When a B2B buyer reads content, it increases purchase likelihood by 52%. (Source: Marketing Charts)

  • 67% find product specs and functionality useful.
  • 65% value product comparisons.
  • 61% trust peer recommendations and review sites.

The Shopping (Exploring) Phase

When a B2B buyer is in the shopping or browsing phase on a B2B website, their priorities typically revolve around gathering information, exploring available options, and evaluating potential solutions. Here are some key priorities during the shopping phase:

  • Product research and information gathering: B2B buyers prioritize conducting thorough research and gathering detailed information about the products or services they are interested in. They explore product descriptions, specifications, features, and pricing to understand how a particular offering aligns with their business needs.
  • Product comparison and evaluation: B2B buyers often have multiple options to consider. They prioritize comparing different products, brands, or suppliers to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and value propositions. This involves evaluating factors such as quality, pricing, customization options, delivery terms, and after-sales support.
  • Solution fit and suitability: B2B buyers focus on determining if a product or service is the right fit for their specific business requirements. They consider factors such as scalability, integration capabilities, industry compliance, and compatibility with existing systems or workflows. The priority is to identify a solution that can effectively address their unique challenges and contribute to their business success.
  • Vendor comparison: B2B buyers often engage in vendor comparison during the browsing stage. They assess various suppliers or manufacturers, considering factors such as reputation, customer reviews, quality, reliability, and customer support. The priority is to identify trustworthy and reputable vendors who can meet their specific requirements.

US B2B online sales in 2023 will exceed $1.8 trillion, accounting for 17% of total B2B sales, up from 13% in 2019. (Source: Statista)


The Ordering (or Reordering) Phase

Once the B2B buyer has completed the shopping phase and has decided to proceed with making a purchase or reordering, their priorities shift toward efficiency, reliability, and convenience. Here are key priorities B2B buyers have during the ordering or reordering phase:

  • A streamlined ordering process: B2B buyers prioritize an easy to navigate and streamlined ordering process. They value a user-friendly interface, intuitive navigation, and a straightforward checkout process. Quick access to product catalogs, personalized pricing, and the ability to create and manage order/shopping lists are also important for efficient reordering.
  • Reliable stock availability: B2B buyers prioritize the assurance of stock availability to avoid delays or disruptions in their business operations. They expect accurate real-time inventory information and the ability to view stock levels while placing an order. Reliable stock management and timely notifications regarding product availability or any potential delays are crucial for confident ordering.
  • Efficient order tracking and status updates: B2B buyers place importance on the ability to track their orders and receive timely status updates. They seek a transparent and proactive approach to order management, with real-time tracking information, estimated delivery dates, and notifications for any changes or delays. This helps them manage their inventory and plan their operations accordingly.
  • Seamless integration with procurement systems: Many B2B buyers rely on procurement systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to manage their purchasing and inventory. Seamless integration between the B2B eCommerce platform and these systems is critical. Integration allows for automated data synchronization, streamlined workflows, and centralized order management, reducing manual effort and ensuring accurate information exchange between the buyer and the seller.

How to Help B2B Shoppers

To enhance B2B website shopping experience, your product content must go beyond basic product descriptions and incorporate other valuable information and assets to help your customers better understand the products they’re considering.

Here are some key aspects to consider when enhancing product information on your B2B eCommerce website:

  • Detailed descriptions: Provide thorough and accurate descriptions that highlight key features, specifications, dimensions, and any other relevant details about the product. This helps customers make informed decisions.
  • High-quality images: Include high-resolution images that showcase the product from different angles, enabling customers to visually assess its appearance, design, and quality.
  • Product videos: Incorporate videos that demonstrate the product in action, showcasing its functionality, benefits, and potential applications. Videos can be particularly effective in engaging B2B buyers and conveying complex product information.
  • Technical data sheets: Include downloadable technical data sheets or product manuals that provide in-depth technical specifications, installation instructions, and maintenance guidelines. This is particularly crucial for B2B buyers who require specific technical information.
  • Case studies and success stories: Highlight real-life case studies or success stories that demonstrate how the product has helped other businesses solve problems, achieve goals, or improve efficiency. This adds credibility and helps buyers envision how the product can benefit their own organization.
  • User reviews and testimonials: Incorporate customer reviews and testimonials to showcase the experiences and opinions of other buyers. This builds trust and confidence in the product's quality and performance.
  • Comparison tools: Provide tools or features that allow customers to compare different products based on their features, specifications, pricing, or other relevant factors. This helps buyers make well-informed decisions when choosing among multiple options.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Include a comprehensive FAQ section addressing common queries and concerns about the product. This saves customers time and provides clarity on various aspects of the product.

By implementing these strategies effectively, a B2B eCommerce website can enhance the product information available to customers, enabling them to make better informed purchasing decisions and ultimately improving the overall user experience.

What are the Benefits of Delivering Comprehensive Product Information to B2B Shoppers?

Providing detailed and useful product information and resources on a B2B website helps B2B shoppers be more efficient when investigating, exploring, and comparing products. Here are some of the clear advantages:

  • Informed decision making: Providing detailed product information and assets empower B2B shoppers to make better informed decisions. By providing comprehensive details about product features, specifications, applications, and benefits, your website enables your buyers to evaluate whether a particular product aligns with their specific needs. Overall, this leads to more confident and well-informed purchasing decisions.
  • Efficient exploration: B2B shoppers often engage in extensive exploration to find the right products or solutions for their business. By offering valuable product information, assets and tools, the website shortens this exploration process. B2B shoppers can efficiently gather the necessary information they require without the need for exhaustive research or contacting sales representatives. This saves time and effort for both the buyer and the seller.
  • Enhanced product comparisons: Detailed product information and assets assist in making effective product comparisons. B2B shoppers can evaluate different products, brands, or suppliers based on their features, specifications, performance, and pricing. This comparison enables buyers to identify the best-suited options and make well-informed decisions that align with their business needs and/or requirements.
  • Increased trust and credibility: Providing detailed and valuable product information establishes greater trust and credibility with B2B shoppers. It demonstrates that the seller has a deep understanding of the products they sell and is committed to educating their buyers. When buyers find comprehensive information, such as technical data sheets, product videos, case studies, and customer testimonials, they gain confidence in the product's quality, performance, and suitability for their business needs.
  • Reduced pre-sales inquiries: A B2B eCommerce website that offers detailed product information can significantly reduce pre-sales inquiries. By proactively addressing common queries, concerns, and specifications, the website provides the necessary information upfront. This decreases the burden on customer support or sales teams, allowing them to focus on more complex or specialized inquiries from prospect and customers.
  • Improved conversion rates: When B2B shoppers have access to detailed and valuable product information, they are more likely to convert into customers. By providing the necessary information to build trust and confidence, the website creates a favorable buying experience. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of successful conversions and higher conversion rates.
  • Customer empowerment: A B2B website that delivers detailed and valuable product information empowers customers to take control of their buying journey. Shoppers can independently explore, investigate, and compare products at their own pace, enabling them to make decisions based on their unique needs and priorities. This self-empowerment enhances the overall customer experience.
  • Competitive advantage: In a competitive B2B market, delivering a website experience with detailed and valuable product information can provide a distinct competitive advantage. By going above and beyond in providing comprehensive information and resources, a business can differentiate itself from competitors. This can attract and retain customers who value the convenience, information, and trustworthiness of the website and the corporate brand.

How to Help B2B Buyers Order/Reorder

A B2B eCommerce website can greatly enhance the ordering or reordering experience for B2B buyers by providing the following key features and functionalities:

  • Account management control: A B2B website should offer robust account management capabilities, allowing buyers to create and manage their profiles, including billing and shipping information, preferences, and order history. This enables buyers to have centralized control over their account details and simplifies the reordering process.
  • Quick order functionality: Implementing a quick order feature allows B2B buyers to easily input multiple SKUs or product codes along with desired quantities, facilitating swift and efficient ordering. This feature is particularly valuable for buyers who frequently reorder the same set of products. Auto-suggestions and intelligent search capabilities can assist buyers in finding the right products swiftly.
  • Saved shopping lists: B2B websites can provide the option to create and save customized shopping lists. This enables buyers to easily access and reorder specific sets of products, saving time and effort. These lists can be pre-populated with frequently ordered items or specific product bundles, streamlining the reordering process.
  • Customer-specific pricing and contract management: B2B buyers often have negotiated pricing and/or terms in place that reside within their integrated ERP or CRM system. A B2B website should display customer-specific pricing and contract terms for each unique company or buyer. This ensures accurate and consistent pricing throughout the ordering or reordering process.
  • Inventory availability and real-time updates: It is essential for a B2B website to display real-time inventory availability. Buyers should be able to view the stock levels of products they intend to order, enabling them to make informed decisions. Timely notifications about stock shortages or replenishments are also valuable to avoid any disruptions.
  • Order history and reorder options: A B2B website should enable buyers to access their order history, making it easy to view and track past orders. Additionally, the website should offer convenient reorder options, allowing buyers to duplicate previous orders or use saved order templates. This functionality speeds up the reordering process and ensures order accuracy.
  • Order tracking and shipment notifications: Providing order tracking capabilities allows buyers to monitor the status of their orders. They should receive notifications at key stages, such as order confirmation, shipping updates, and delivery confirmation. This transparency enhances trust and allows buyers to plan their operations accordingly.
  • Flexible payment and financing options: B2B buyers require flexible payment options beyond immediate online payment. Offering options such as credit terms, purchase orders, or financing arrangements caters to their specific needs. A B2B website should provide secure and convenient payment gateways that support these flexible payment methods.
  • Efficient checkout process: The checkout process should be smooth, secure, and efficient. Offering guest checkout options or integrating with popular payment gateways facilitates a convenient transaction process. Additionally, providing clear order summaries, shipping options, and delivery timelines helps buyers review and finalize their orders quickly.
  • Dedicated account management: A B2B ordering experience can offer personalized account management features, providing buyers with a designated account manager or customer sales support representative. This allows buyers to receive personalized assistance, resolve queries, and address any issues related to their orders or account.
  • Self-service tools and resources: B2B websites can provide self-service tools and resources that empower buyers to manage their orders efficiently. This can include features like the ability to request returns, generate invoices, download order-related documents, or access product documentation and support materials.
  • Customized catalog and contract-specific products: B2B buyers may have access to specific catalogs or contract-specific products based on their agreements with the seller. A B2B website can provide a tailored catalog view, showcasing the relevant products and pricing specific to each buyer. This customization enhances the ordering experience and ensures buyers can easily find the products they need.

What are the benefits of streamlining the repeat order experience?

  • Time and effort savings: By streamlining repeat orders, B2B buyers can save significant time and effort. They don't have to go through the entire ordering process again, such as searching for products, entering shipping and billing information, or selecting payment methods. Instead, they can quickly reorder with just a few clicks or taps, making the procurement process more efficient.
  • Increased productivity: Simplifying repeat orders allows B2B buyers to focus on other important tasks, such as managing their business operations, serving customers, or working on strategic initiatives. By minimizing the time spent on repetitive order placement, buyers can allocate their resources to more valuable activities, ultimately increasing productivity.
  • Reduced errors: When placing repeat orders manually, there is always a risk of human error. Streamlining the process minimizes the chance of mistakes, such as selecting the wrong product, entering incorrect quantities, or inputting inaccurate shipping details. This helps maintain order accuracy and reduces the need for order corrections or returns.
  • Faster order fulfillment: By streamlining repeat orders, businesses can expedite the order fulfillment process. The system can remember previous order details, including product specifications, shipping preferences, and payment methods. This enables faster processing and ensures timely delivery, improving customer satisfaction.
  • Enhanced customer experience: A streamlined repeat ordering process contributes to a positive customer experience. B2B buyers appreciate the convenience and efficiency of quickly replenishing their stock or reordering essential supplies. It simplifies their procurement journey and reinforces their loyalty to the business, fostering long-term relationships.
  • Increased sales and revenue: By making repeat orders hassle-free, businesses can encourage buyers to make more frequent purchases. The convenience and efficiency of streamlined ordering processes can lead to increased customer retention and loyalty. Satisfied customers are more likely to continue doing business with the company, resulting in higher sales and revenue.
  • Data insights for personalization: Streamlining repeat orders also provides valuable data insights for personalization. By analyzing customers' ordering history, businesses can identify patterns, preferences, and buying behaviors. This information can be used to tailor marketing campaigns, recommend related products or services, or offer customized pricing, further enhancing the customer experience.

Catering to B2B Shoppers and Orderers

The transformation within the B2B buying landscape emphasizes the need for distributors and manufacturers to adapt and cater to the distinct requirements of B2B shoppers and B2B orderers.

B2B buyers in the shopping phase prioritize thorough research, product comparison, and finding solutions that align with their specific needs. On the other hand, B2B buyers in the ordering phase seek efficiency, reliability, and convenience in the ordering process.

To address these diverse needs, businesses should implement comprehensive B2B eCommerce solutions that integrate shopping and ordering experiences. By providing rich product information, intuitive search functionalities, streamlined ordering processes, and efficient procurement workflows, businesses can optimize conversions, build customer relationships, and thrive in the competitive industrial B2B market.

Understanding and catering to the priorities of B2B buyers at each stage of the buying journey is essential for success now and in the future.

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