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Driving traffic, retention, and growth is a challenge all e-commerce companies face, but it’s a unique one for B2B industrial distributors that have a broad product offering with a large amount of detailed, complex product content.

From sourcing to categorizing, merchandising, and maintaining, high-quality product content is a key driver of conversion. A survey of 2,000 shoppers by GS11, a nonprofit based in the UK, found that 42 percent abandoned their e-commerce search because of poor-quality product content. This means that companies failed to convert almost half of all customers simply because they lacked enough product information.

The research on B2B e-commerce is clear: B2B websites lack the product content customers need to make a purchase decision and fail to provide customers with a positive shopping experience that instills trust and loyalty.

A best-in-class e-commerce website begins with product categorization. Good product categorization drives findability, which means customers can easily find what they’re looking for. If they can’t find it, they can’t buy it.

Since most customers begin their search by clicking product categories, they must be organized in a way that’s clear, logical, and easy to understand. Product categories are also the organizational backbone of your website and have an effect on SEO, faceted navigation, and on-site keyword search. Get this wrong and the rest of your e-commerce shopping experience suffers.

Here are a few things to consider to make your customers shopping experience as smooth as possible.

Organize Products into Distinct Groups

Organizing products into distinct groups seems obvious, but unfortunately, many B2B distributors don’t do this well.

Two best practices to follow when categorizing products are to ensure they’re easy to navigate and have one organizing principle. One organizing principle means you’ve categorized products according to one theme like material, application, or product type. Since users decide to leave a website within the first 10 seconds, you must make it immediately clear to them where they can find products in order to keep them on the page.

Create Product Filters

Good product categorization allows for product filters. Filters let customers refine products by characteristics like size or material. Also known as “faceted navigation,” it is the standard in e-commerce today and customers will come to expect it when shopping online.

Faceted navigation presents customers with an easy way to narrow down from a large product set to the exact product they need. This not only eases decision making, it instills confidence they’re buying the correct product.

Faceted navigation is especially important for B2B distributors that sell products with more characteristics than the average consumer product. A pair of shoes has a few characteristics essential to a purchase decision, such as type, size, and color; but an industrial product will have many more due to its technical nature. 

Create Landing Pages for Product Categories

In the context of e-commerce, landing pages tell customers what to do after a keyword search. Since most customers don’t land on a product detail page after a keyword search, they need instructions to understand what to do next and how to get to the product detail page. Statistics show that e-commerce websites see more conversions and online sales when they have dedicated landing pages.

In all of these examples, landing pages create a central home for products that produces accurate search results. Each landing page has a clear call to action, funneling the customer into hand-holding situations.

Drive SEO

The right combination of structured categories, landing pages, and appropriate keywords drive more organic traffic from Google and Bing. Search engines favor websites with repeated keywords in title tags, meta descriptions, and landing page headers.

Take a B2B distributor that sells shim stock, for example. A Google search for shim stock directs customers to a landing page with subcategories. The keyword shim stock is repeated in product category names, title tags, meta descriptions, and landing page headers. This setup captures searches for shim stock and brings customers directly to a landing page where they can immediately start to refine their search.

Remember, Choose Your Words Wisely

How you name product categories and landing pages’ matters. Product category names must include words your customers normally use to call a product. For example, if you sell industrial waste receptacles, should you name this product category waste bins? Trash cans? Waste receptacles? Keyword research will reveal how many people search for each of these terms.

Keep this all in mind, and make sure your wording matches up with what your customers expect.