Pratikkumar P. Gaikwad | 15 min read | Aug 11, 2020
2. What is different when designing for wholesale retailers?
Short answer: the path of purchase. The path-to-purchase cycle for wholesale retailers, an utterly critical aspect to any e-commerce experience, is a totally different beast to conquer than its B2C equivalent.
Perhaps the biggest difference is the lack of an ‘impulse buy’ in the B2B space. Online stores selling directly to customers usually aim to make their shopping and check-out trips as seamless as possible, to make fast sales, and to take advantage of shoppers buying at a whim until the pulse dies.
The wholesale retailer’s region is usually B2B, which means that it is highly unlikely that their target would be impulse buying. Wholesalers also participate in purchases that can be particularly important to the consumer, which means that there are typically many policymakers involved in the buying process.
That doesn’t mean that the path-to-purchase isn’t meant to be straightforward, but manufacturers should bear in mind that even more work is going to be conducted on the buyer’s side before pulling the trigger. Understanding this encourages one to build a path-to-purchase that represents their process — one that supports them in their choice (more on that later).
Another important aspect to remember is how the standard KPIs vary in the wholesale region. The B2B channel typically has a better exchange rate than its B2C retail equivalent and higher average order size. If your client defines the success of the project on the basis of these key performance indicators, it is important to remember where they should be recorded.
3. Points to remember
A particular path-to-purchase, a different weighting for e-commerce KPIs — these are all important items to bear in mind, but merely recognizing them is not enough. In order to really enhance our experience, we need to use them expertly to advise our product approach.
Path to purchase
Let’s start with the path to purchase of the buyer. We have already confirmed that their decision to support your client’s wholesale platform is likely to be a lengthy process, one requiring extensive testing and product analysis.
Understanding that as a designer, you can bring additional relevance to your knowledge by showcasing white papers, case reports, and other research to help them make a decision. By prioritizing these items in your experience, you will effectively demonstrate value to the customer.
The presentation of price levels is even more complicated in the UX design of wholesale sites. Although typically straightforward in B2C implementations, many wholesalers offer a variety of different pricing options for their goods, including base rate, retail price, distribution, and wholesale. Designers need to ensure that all versions are explicitly communicated to the customer without ambiguity.
In addition to these types, wholesalers can also give pricing quotations. This is an interesting challenge for designers — how can users get a quote quickly and efficiently without disrupting their browsing experience? Is this a pop-up that can be closed without difficulty to return to the product page? Or a mechanic-fashion wizard?
Better organization of products
While an invaluable facet of any e-commerce experience, smart product organization is especially crucial in the wholesale field. Most wholesalers have an immense inventory of goods, so the amount of SKUs they need to handle can often be in the thousands.
As a result, solutions such as a price review tool or a robust search function are no longer ‘options’—they are must-haves of practice. Don’t neglect to take this into account when designing the information architecture of the website.
Observe the screenshot below.
They use a variety of various product organization mechanics to manage their vast catalog effortlessly. Not only do they have sorting, group searching, and list vs. grid browsing features (all functionality you ‘d usually see on a sophisticated B2C shopping site), but they also allow users to browse by keyword or SKU number.
Integrate into the digital ecosystem
And speaking of an immense catalog of items, it is critical that your design expertise can effectively be combined with the inventory management tools of your company, as well as with the rest of the current digital infrastructure.
This usually means a smooth interface to the ERP and CRM of your customer, which is especially important because most B2B transactions are ongoing relationships.