Who's Getting it Right in B2B eCommerce [White Paper]

By UsableNet on Oct 22, 2015
Topics: Mobile in B2B, UX Research & Design


Over the past few years, we’ve seen drastic advancements in mobile usage and overall capabilities that have revolutionized the customer experience. And yet, B2B companies are still lagging in adopting mobile. Many believe that B2B interactions are too complex for mobile and that the majority of B2B buyers prefer desktop, but these are common misconceptions. According to a 2014 Google study on the B2B path to purchase, nearly half of the people researching products for B2B brands are millennials. Along with that, today’s top B2B brands are showing that even the most complex business models can be effectively transferred to the mobile screen. In fact, the more complex the scenario, the greater the need for a supportive and well-designed user interface. 

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The Gap Between Buyers and Sellers

With essentially every leading B2C brand providing seamless mobile user experiences, the dependence on quick and easy transactions is now engrained in the buyer mindset. Business buyers are beginning to expect the coherent, B2C-like user experiences that they embrace in their personal lives. According to Demand Gen Report, 85% of B2B buyers require content on B2B sites to be optimized for mobile devices. Unfortunately, since this trend is relatively recent, there is a major gap between the expectations of B2B buyers and what B2B brands are delivering.

A Look into B2B Usability

We wanted to look deeper into this gap to better understand the fundamental usability issues hindering the conversion and retention of business buyers on mobile. In 2006 the Nielson Norman Group did a usability study on the desktop sites of 179 B2B brands, focusing on the sites ability to facilitate task completion. The study exposed many websites for having poor usability. We returned to this study for our own research and set out to see how a selection of these B2B brands made the transition to mobile, nine years later.

We performed extensive UX assessments on 14 B2B brands, across multiple industries. Our evaluation focused on the areas contributing most to usability, which we determined using the ten proven usability heuristics. These essential focus areas include error management, ease of use, navigation and design. Brands that successfully satisfy these aspects of usability are delivering effective experiences. 

It’s Time for B2B Brands to Get Serious about Mobile

After revisiting the 2006 study, but with a mobile scope, we were surprised to see that B2B brands as a whole are not yet fully embracing mobile. Just over half of the brands passed our benchmark usability ranking, with even fewer providing exemplary UX.

In the process of evaluating these brands, the fundamental usability issues that largely impact conversion became clear. It was also apparent that those putting effort into avoiding those issues tend to be more successful in delivering a great customer experience. After analyzing our findings, we identified actionable UX best practices and key tips for mobile that B2B brands can use to their advantage.

For full access to our research results and findings download our white paper Who's Getting It Right in B2B Mobile Commerce White paper here.



Founded in 2000, UsableNet created some of the first tools and platforms to make websites accessible and usable for all people. Starting out, we worked with government agencies as well as universities and corporations. Today, accessibility has become important to almost all companies. We provide accessibility solutions to Fortune 1000 companies, small and medium enterprises, government, and education organizations across industries including retail, travel, hospitality, food services, automotive, financial services, and healthcare.

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