Improved search for B2B Commerce

Author:

Josh Schoonmaker

  • Senior Director of Strategy & Commerce
  • Episerver

Commerce solutions created for B2B Buyers are different than their B2C cousins. Many functions of the modern commerce engine have unique implications when being used by professional buyers rather than B2C shoppers. And chief among these is making site-search more functional for the efficiency-focused, part number leveraging, no-nonsense professional buyers who desperately want search to be their primary mode of product discovery.

Forrester identifies that 43% of website visitors “go straight to the internal search bar when they first visit a site,” and Gartner goes farther by focusing on B2B buyers’ top frustrations finding “difficulty finding specific information” as the number-one concern. Here at Optimizely, our B2B customers have seen 4x conversion rate improvement from focusing on search. Search is even more important in mobile B2B commerce where 91% of B2B buyers’ searches are carried out.

Needless to say, the Optimizely B2B Commerce team is highly attuned to the necessity of B2B specific site-search. We are announcing two important developments in our continued effort to provide the best B2B search for our customers. Both are available as part of our most November B2B Commerce update released this week.

  1. B2B Commerce site-search is now a separate cloud-based service.
  2. Third-party search providers can now easily be integrated.

B2B Commerce site-search is now a separate cloud-based service

B2B site-search is still provided as part of your B2B Commerce purchase, but it now runs separately than the core commerce engine and communicates with the core through API calls. There are several distinct advantages to this improvement. For instance, it allows search and the commerce core to be updated independently of each other. This means improvements to search will not necessitate difficult changes or testing within the core commerce engine. It also allows new versions of search to be released as a new service and customers can select to move onto the new version of search at their discretion.

We are excited to be upgrading to the latest version of ElasticSearch early next year - customers who would like to take advantage of the updated search version will be able to do so immediately, while customers who have customized their site-search can continue utilizing the customized version without missing the latest commerce updates. Running search as a separate service also allows for optimizations to its cloud hosting independent of the core commerce engine.

This means search could be run in different public clouds (AWS, Azure, etc.) and with different performance configurations than the core commerce engine. By allowing search to be a separate service, both the commerce engine and the search service have more degrees of freedom for their own optimal performance.

Third-party search can now easily be integrated

Making our own site-search as an independent service required the B2B Commerce engine to rely on a service for search rather than its own core code. By doing this, we opened the way for technology partners who have search solutions to connect into B2B Commerce. Third-party search providers can now easily connect to the B2B Commerce search API and manage site-search independent of the commerce engine. B2B Commerce customers can now choose the search that works best for their distinct requirements.

To make site-search selection even more seamless, Optimizely has partnered with Bridgeline to offer a pre-integrated option for their search service, Hawksearch. Using the Optimizely B2B Commerce admin console, users simply select Hawksearch as the new search provider from a drop-down menu and provide Hawksearch API credentials.

Optimizely B2B Commerce will immediately utilize Hawksearch to drive site-search on the customers’ sites. There is no code required – business users can easily switch to the new search provider on their own. Optimizely chose Hawksearch to be the inaugural search partner because of their focus on B2B-specific search capabilities. The Hawksearch option will be available in the next B2B Commerce update.

In the future, additional technology partners will be able to add their search solutions as a pre-integrated option as well.

B2B Search is a key success factor

B2B buyers seek the most efficient methods for order creation and execution, and we at Optimizely know that site-search optimized for the B2B experience can be one of the most impactful tools for delivering on buyers’ expectations. Benefits of B2B optimized search include:

    • It enhances the user experience.
    • It speeds up product discovery and order creation.
    • It dramatically increases onsite conversion rate.
    • It is a key factor to B2B customers’ success, and we will continue to help our B2B customers deliver optimal search to their buyers.

About Bridgeline Digital and Hawksearch

Bridgeline helps companies grow online revenues by increasing their traffic, conversion rates and average order values. To learn more, please visit www.bridgeline.com. To learn about Hawksearch, please visit www.hawksearch.com.