The Importance of a B2B eCommerce Site Search Engine

B2B eCommerces are special.

Since you run one yourself, you know this well. Addressing professional customers is not the same as dealing with end users.

Amongst many things, your customers:

  • Are more demanding.
  • Stop to think a bit more before buying (and care more about the price).
  • Highly value efficiency in the purchase process.

To attract this buyer profile (instead of simply competing over prices), you need to use all available resources. Maybe you haven’t even thought of it yet, but one of the most powerful sales weapons you can use is your eCommerce’s internal search engine.

What? But… How could my search engine possibly help me sell more?

Does that sound strange? No worries! We’re about to tell you how to use your eCommerce’s internal search engine to boost conversion at length.

Let’s get on it! 😉

👉 Why your B2B eCommerce search engine is fundamental

You most likely already know this, but we have something for you —just in case.

B2B stands for Business to Business. So, when we talk about B2B eCommerce, we mean an online store that sells their products to other companies.

For example, Irma Trade: a store that sells clothes wholesale.


But, as you know, this ‘simple’ difference is much more important than it seems at first.

✅ 1. What’s special about a B2B eCommerce versus other kinds of online shops

Some key aspects of this business model are:

  • Less customers: you have a smaller potential audience since there’s a difference in selling to a market with thousands of people than to a sector with hundreds of companies.
  • Larger purchases: large lots are bought at once, which partly compensates for the potential market being smaller than usual. However, such a high average ticket price comes at a price…
  • Rational purchases: while in a B2B eCommerce impulsive purchases are more common, in B2Bs the purchase decision is more thought-out. A professional customer spends good money, so they’ll carefully analyze products and compare them to find the most cost-effective option for their company.
  • Longer decision-making: most of the time, there are people involved in decision-making (for example, a purchasing manager has to approve such and such expense).

These differences completely change the game and call for completely different sales strategies, in which the price and any offers go a long way.

But that doesn’t mean you can only compete by lowering your prices. 😉

✅ 2. What’s the role of your search engine in all this?

As we mentioned earlier, the main components of any B2B eCommerce’s strategy are:

  • Offering a product that meets buyers’ needs.
  • Competitive prices.
  • Creating appealing conditions so buying from you is cost-effective.

If these three pillars fail, the whole marketing strategy we have built on them will be weaker —or you’ll simply fail at positioning yourself and attracting customers.

On the other hand, if you already meet these standards… What else can you do to stand out from your competitors?

Here’s where added value comes in.

Let’s see an example.

We mentioned how the customers of a B2B eCommerce compare many websites before making a purchase decision. Likewise, they’ll want to find the product they’re interested in as fast as possible.

If a customer goes to your eCommerce, makes a search and the engine returns a no-results page, do you think they’ll bother browsing the menu bar to try and find that product again?


They’ll close your website and go to the next store.

To avoid that, your internal search engine will have to be effective.

Also, a good browser won’t simply avoid losing customers, it will also help you sell more. For you to get an idea, stores that use smart search engine Doofinder have increased their conversion by 10% to 20%.

Of course, for you to make this happen, the search engine needs to meet some standards.

👉 The 5 features your B2B eCommerce’s site search engine must have

Let’s see this in practice.

Make notes of this because we’re about to tell you the requirements an internal search engine must have to improve search experience in your online B2B store.

✅ 1. It should take your customer straight to the product they want

Remember: the goal is for the customer not to waste time trying to find the product they want.

These two features will come in handy for that.

➡️ A. Autocomplete

A search engine might be efficient, but… can it read a user’s mind?

We’re not joking.

This is exactly what autocomplete does: by simply typing 3 letters, the search engine starts suggesting products.

This speeds up the search process.

An example of an eCommerce search engine with such a feature is HP’s official store.


By only typing ‘boo’, you already start getting possible search results.

➡️ B. Faceted Search

Faceted search allows the user to apply filters to more easily find the specific product they’re interested in. And yes, these filters can be integrated with the search engine itself.

Have a look at this screenshot from ITS’s website, one of Doofinder’s customers.

b2b-ecommerce-interno-buscador (1) (1)

Thanks to these filters, its search engine allows you to narrow down your search by:

  • Product category.
  • Brand.
  • Price.

You can also filter based on availability, products on sale, etc.

This is specially useful to speed up browsing if you have an eCommerce with thousands of products.

✅ 2. It should be able to handle synonyms and typos

A single product can have many different names.

For example, if you’re selling safety work boots, you customers might call them:

  • Safety boots.
  • Work boots.
  • Industrial safety boots.
  • Steel toe caps boots.

So, the ideal thing (even if most eCommerces don’t do it) is to have a search engine capable of offering relevant results for any of these synonyms.

But there’s more.

It may be the case that a customer misspells ‘boots’ for ‘bots.’

If your search engine doesn’t process typos either, it’ll return the infamous no-results page. If that person doesn’t realize they’ve made a typo, they’re likely to abandon your store under the impression you’re understocked on boots.

To summarize: a search engine that can handle synonyms and typos keeps you from losing customers. 😉

✅ 3. It should admit different search terms (product, brand serial number…)

Because not everyone will use a product’s name to search for it.

That’s why your search engine should allow you to search for:

  • Product category.
  • Brand (it’s very common to find companies who’ll always prefer to work with their trusted brands).
  • Problem or need (for example, when someone types ‘thick agent’ instead of ‘thickening agent.’
  • Serial number (this is common amongst B2B customers).

For example, see how wholesale store Grainger specifies on the search box that you can search by product serial number —an unmistakable sign of how important this is for their customers.


➡️ It admits non-product searches too

Watch out now… there are also non-product searches and they are more common than you think.

Keep in mind that for your customers it is useful to know, for example:

  • What your return policy is like.
  • Whether you offer any discounts depending on the size of the order.

Here’s the thing: there will be many users who, in order to find such information, will go straight to the search bar, instead of looking for it on your web’s footer or on the browser menu.

If your search engine offers results for this particular type of search (again, only few do so), you’ll strengthen user experience.

✅ 4. It should keep your customers up to date on the latest offers

Imagine you have launched an offer like this one: ‘If you buy 1,000 units of this product, you’ll get free shipping’. Or maybe you are giving a 20% discount on a set of products as a limited offer.

In any case, your customers will be very interested in this information (because the higher the discount, the more cost-effective their purchase is).

But, what does any of this have to do with the search engine at all?

It’s very simple: advanced search engines allow you to introduce banners next to search results.

The following example, from Tooled-Up, shows how they use the store’s own search engine to announce a limited offer —while making the best of one of the most powerful mind triggers ever: scarcity.


✅ 5. It should offer personalized results for each customer (thanks to artificial intelligence)

Yes, we know that anything related to ‘artificial intelligence’ probably sounds like sci-fi, but we guarantee it’s something much more realistic than you think. You’ll get a clearer idea with an example.

Let’s say you sell work uniforms on your eCommerce.

You have a customer who usually shops for clothes for the employees of their hair salon, while another customer only orders clothes for the workers of their factory.

One day, they both go to your eCommerce and type the same word on the search box: footwear.

What happens then?

The first customer gets appropriate footwear for a hair salon as a search result, while the second one gets steel toe caps work boots, even though they have both made the same search. 

Coincidence? 😉

Nope. Artificial Intelligence.

Thanks to it, the search engine remembers their searches and previous purchases, and knows which articles would be interesting for each of them.

👉 How would you like a search engine that’ll allow you to increase your sales up to 20%?

If you’ve read this far is because you clearly know how important a search engine is for any B2B eCommerce.

But, right now, you may be thinking: ‘My store’s default search engine won’t do any of this.’

In fact, not any search engine will have these features we’ve reviewed here. In order to implement our advice, you need a smart search engine, one that can:

  • Offer autocomplete results and search filters.
  • Understand synonyms and typos.
  • Handle different search terms (even non-product ones).
  • Add banners to advertise ongoing special offers.
  • Show each user personalized results by using artificial intelligence.
  • Offer metrics related to searches and your users’ behavior to optimize your sales strategy.

If you’d like to see for yourself, it’s very simple: click here and try Doofinder for free in your store for 30 days.

You’ll see your customers (and your billing) thank you for it. 😉