Top 9 B2B Ecommerce Optimization Trends in 2023

B2B Ecommerce has seen a swift rise recently, driven by technological advances and businesses' growing trust in online transactions for significant trade decisions.
Top 9 B2B Ecommerce Optimization Trends in 2023

Business to business ecommerce has grown rapidly in recent years with no slowdown in sight. In fact, analysts project a 16% compound annual growth rate from 2020 to 2028. And it’s not just researchers reporting tailwinds, as nearly all B2B buyers claim they’ll complete end-to-end, digital self-serve transactions. Growth trends and buyer surveys alike paint a picture of boom-times for B2B ecommerce, and you can better understand the entire landscape by reviewing this comprehensive guide

While most B2B sales still transpire “offline” there’s no question the shift has begun. Global research firm Forrester projects that over the next five years almost 60% of all purchases will be made online. In this post, we’ll more closely examine some of the trends that made waves in 2023. 

Trend 1: Migration to Shopify Plus

Shopify being a consumer-only ecommerce platform, while perhaps true in its early years of adoption, is a pervasive myth in the industry. With a robust technical infrastructure, thriving app ecosystem and bevy of success stories, Shopify Plus has firmly established itself as the go-to platform for B2B ecommerce. A growing number of companies—many of which have broad catalogs or configurable products—now migrate from legacy platforms not only to reduce costs, but also increase functionality and scalability on the backbone of Shopify Plus. In fact, more than 7,000 B2B ecommerce companies sell on Shopify Plus, making it one of the most prominent options. 

Trend 2: Focus on User Experience

Great strides have been made in improving the design and functionality of consumer ecommerce websites, but B2B portals and commerce sites are playing catch-up. That isn’t to suggest the demand for improved user experience (UX) design isn’t there; 8 of 10 B2B buyers now expect “consumer-like” experiences when they go online. From employing UX designers to running A/B tests online to refine the experience, more attention is being made to the impact of design on a site’s performance. This especially holds true for mobile traffic, which now comprises well over half the B2B search queries (and grows each year). In fact, more than 90% of B2B decision makers say they're likely to buy again from the same vendor if they have a superior mobile experience. One other reason mobile means money for B2B buyers: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings are heavily impacted by a site’s mobile load time and usability. Why does SEO matter to companies? More than half of all online traffic comes from organic search, yet only 1% of users will actually click past the first page of results. 

Trend 3: Social Proof

As business increasingly shifts online, establishing credibility and a strong reputation becomes more important. According to research firm Nielsen, 7 of 10 consumers trust opinions posted online when making purchase decisions. In fact, positive product reviews garner 100%+ more sales and can raise prices by nearly 10%. Here are a few simple considerations when designing a social proof strategy.


As noted above, online reviews boost credibility and drive sales. To maximize their value, include them on product pages to improve conversion rate. Also, make them easy to filter so a customer can find what they’re looking for, and be sure to respond to the negative reviews to build confidence. Finally, incorporate user generated content (UGC) so potential customers have visuals alongside the written assessment.

Expert Testimonials

Include guest posts on your blog written by experts in the industry. Expert insights not only provide direct value to your visitors, your brand will likely gain more exposure when those experts share the piece through their own networks. You can also host webinars, podcasts or panels with subject matter experts to increase credibility. 

Referral Program

Shopify-integrated referral programs, like those offered by Stamped or Yotpo, make it easy to implement referral incentives into your website, email flows, social media content and any other consumer touchpoints. Customize the rewards, whether they’re points or cash, based on the number of referrals or even other behaviors you want to incentivize (such as posting on social media or leaving a review). According to Extole, business to business companies with referrals have a 70% higher conversion rate, and they report a 69% faster close time on sales.

Trend 4: Email and SMS Strategies

Email marketing is nothing new, but it’s also not outdated! According to HubSpot, email generates $42 for every $1 spent. As if that isn’t enough, one of the biggest areas for improving results lies in list segmentation. By segmenting your lists into groups such as one-time buyers, high-dollar customers, warm contacts, etc., you can increase the relevance of your message and efficiency of your program. HubSpot also reports marketers who use segmentation in their campaigns see greater than 7x increases in revenue.  

But it’s not just email marketing that has B2B marketers buzzing; SMS has entered the chat. According to Simply Texting, the use of SMS marketing services by B2B marketers increased by 200% between 2015 and 2017. Here are a few reasons why, according to Mobile Monkey: 

  • The response rate of marketing text messages is 45% (compared to 6% for email)
  • SMS messages have an average click-through rate of greater than 30%, while email click-through-rates are less than 5%.
  • When it comes to sales, 90% of leads prefer to be texted instead of called 

The bottom line: smart businesses communicate with their prospects and customers the ways in which they want to be engaged. Find your customer preferences and target segmented lists with timely and relevant messages on their preferred medium!

Trend 5: Loyalty and Membership Programs

B2B companies are turning to membership and loyalty programs to help differentiate, attract new customers and retain the most valuable ones. A membership program is one in which customers pay a fee (often annual) in order to unlock access to a company’s goods or services, special perks or pricing, content, premium customer support and any number of benefits outlined by the program. The value proposition should be clear: your customers (or rather members) pay an upfront fee with the promise of recouping it (and more) by taking advantage of those benefits. Executed properly, membership programs can be a win-win. You can read all about those outcomes in this membership deep dive

In a traditional consumer loyalty program, wherein customers receive points or rewards for things like repeat purchasing, referrals or sharing on social media (as noted in the previous section). While similar in intent, the customer in those situations does not have a “membership” but instead gets rewards by taking specific actions detailed by the brand. Let’s take a look at some meaningful loyalty trends: 

  • Nearly 70% of B2B leaders believe clients are less loyal than in the past (Bain)
  • 8 in 10 B2B marketers are shifting budgets to focus on customers (Leapfrog) 
  • More than 40% of mid-size B2B companies list customer satisfaction as a key objective (Ko Marketing) 

It’s well understood that acquiring new customers is expensive (compared to retaining existing ones), so B2B companies are making retention and loyalty a focal point for healthier growth. 

Trend 6: Fast Checkout

Friction at the point of conversion is a big problem in ecommerce. In fact, roughly 70% of carts are abandoned! Nearly 20% of US shoppers claim cart abandonment was due to long or complicated checkout processes. Implementing one-step or one-click checkout (particularly for repeat customers) minimizes the effort to purchase, and Shopify Checkout is making this possible for ecommerce businesses. 

Clear, well-organized information such as payment and shipping terms also impact conversion rate. Designate terms and conditions such as due dates or even payment types accepted (i.e. credit card, ACH) depending on the product or group. You can even integrate native financing tools such as monthly installments or “same as cash” purchases. And digital payments are continuing to increase; credit cards (94%) are the most commonly used payment type for the ecommerce, though others are still in play online, with more than half accepting checks, terms and purchase orders. 

Trend 7: Omnichannel Sales 

B2B brands often need to simultaneously grow different sales channels and teams; wholesale, retail, direct and international distributors may all need support from the website. According to Mangneto, 3 in 4 B2B buyers will purchase repeatedly from the same supplier if it has excellent omnichannel capabilities. But when different customer types have varying requirements for pricing, quantities, payment, shipping and delivery, the ecommerce experience must be flexible. In fact, Accenture reports that 90% of B2B leaders believe customer experience is vital to their companies’ strategic priorities. 

For starters, create user journeys based on type of account and ensure your customers have complete and accurate information on their way to purchase. Additionally, create customer-specific portals so your buyers can view previous orders, access personalized pricing, find what they need faster and pay on their accepted terms. Recognizing the opportunity, more than a third of B2B companies have already started delivering such experiences to companies!  

Trend 8: Subscriptions and Auto-Replenishment

E-commerce increasingly makes dollars and sense for B2B companies. And for ones with highly repeatable orders? It’s a no-brainer. Giving customers the ability to “set it and forget it” not only saves them time and money, it creates consistent, forecastable sales for an organization. According to McKinsey, in the B2B space, organizations with subscriptions must "move strategically, not conveniently," and that "making small, intuitive moves, such as adding a few clever features or apps to their website" won’t work. This means setting up a portal with customer-specific pricing and terms, as well as the ability to customize the order quantities and frequencies. When a business can set up auto-replenishment for its customers, the result can be increased order frequency and average order value. 

Trend 9: Customer Service

The days of punching 0 into a phone in hopes of exchanging the automated menu for a live person are over. Businesses now offer around-the-clock service through the customer’s medium of choice. Why? Because ecommerce businesses lose an estimated $75 billion annually due to poor customer experience. 

For starters, help customers help themselves. Keep in mind 90% of customers would use an online knowledge base, if suited to their needs. Websites should feature FAQs, guides and articles, even forums connecting customers to other customers. And make sure it’s mobile friendly, too, so the customer doesn’t become even more frustrated! On a 5-pt scale, decision makers ranked the importance of tools for self-service a 4.4.

Many customers prefer communicating with a live person, and those real human beings can now manage several digital channels of communication simultaneously: email, contact forms, social media messages, live chat or even SMS. Personalization can be key, as 9 in 10 B2B buyers seek personalized pricing and recommendations, and more than half would pay more to get those offers. 

Closing Thoughts

Taking advantage of new marketing and technology solutions shouldn’t feel intimidating. Work with a certified Shopify Plus Partner that can not only identify the right tools and integrations, but also implement them in your B2B ecommerce store. Also ensure your analytics are properly tracking so you can determine what’s working best for your brands and your customers. More than 90% of B2B buyers believe the remote and digital model will stick around for the long run, and there’s no better time to invest in your ecommerce store! 

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