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There is a famous quote from the late-80’s baseball movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” While we would love for this saying to apply to all areas of our business, it’s not always accurate — especially when it comes to your website. 

For jan/san distributors who are thinking about creating a new, transactional website, or perhaps enhancing your existing one, it’s time to consider what that website really needs to do for it to be successful. eCommerce revenue in the U.S. is exponentially climbing year-over-year, and there are opportunities abound, even in a more traditional B2B space. (See Graphic 1)  

Graphic 1 

Your website is not only the face of your company, it is a money maker. It is the one asset that could quickly encourage (or discourage) a potential customer from conducting business with you.  

So how can you make a great first impression, gain trust, and close/retain business through your website? Let these questions guide you: 

  • How will people find your site? 
  • What do they want to do there?  
  • Are they having a good time? Really...this is a serious question.  
  • What else can you do to increase your digital presence?  


It’s All About The SERP 

Out of sight is out of mind when it comes to searching for information online. As potential customers seek out the products and services you offer, page 1 is where you’ll want to be. It’s the hippest part of any online marketer’s strategy; the most coveted and the most difficult to obtain, especially in this competitive industry.  

There are literally thousands of people out there — from independents to large online retailers — selling the same exact products you do. How do you beat them to the top of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP)? SEO, of course! It’s the most important acronym yet: Search Engine Optimization.  

SEO is a science. This entire article could be about techniques you could deploy on your site to boost your organic rank, but here are a few digestible tips instead: 

  • First, write website copy and content with SEO in mind. The golden rule is always to write for users first, of course, but you must do so with search engines in mind. Focus on these elements: 
  • Title tags and meta descriptions. These should be 55- and 160-characters max, respectively, and unique on every page. But how do you do that when you sell thousands of products? Many eCommerce systems will allow you to set rules to use copy and/or information from the product details pages as the title tags and meta data. If you have this option, consider setting the “Product Title” as the Title Tag and the “Short Description” and the Meta Description. Any categories that are a focus for you should get a little more custom SEO love.  
  • Rename your URL structure to include keywords and phrases. Clean up long URLs and remove extraneous characters as well.  
  • Add internal links to your static copy. An internal link is a link within the copy of your website, typically placed upon a priority keyword or phrase, that will easily take the user to that page of your website. Search engines love them, as it is how they essentially crawl from page to page on your site.  
  • Create custom content that is educational and adds value, oftentimes solving a problem or answering a question. These take the form of blog posts or guides. All content should aim to build expertise, authority and trust, following the Google E.A.T. principle (see Graphic 2) Pro Tip: Create custom content several times a month. Search engines will think your site is stale and irrelevant if you don’t, dropping you in organic rank.  


Graphic 2

Sticky, Not Icky 

How “sticky” is your website? By sticky, we mean what do users find appealing when they arrive that would make them want to stick around? The answer lies in a well-designed user interface (UI) and well thought out user experience (UX).  

By definition, a UI is the point of human-to-computer (or website) interaction on any device. A well-designed UI will be intuitive, making the user’s experience effortless and easy, streamlining the desired outcome. UI often refers to the aesthetic elements of a website. UX, while very similar, is how the user’s experience overall is on the website and what they take away from that experience.  

Think of it as a house: the UX is the foundation, and the UI would be everything inside that makes it awesome – the paint, décor and furniture. Just like your house, you want to invite guests to feel warm and welcome, and stick around, as opposed to wanting to leave immediately.  

When it comes to UI and UX, consider these factors of your site:  

  • Easy and simplified navigation: Determine which categories are important to both your business and your customers. If you are relying on the category structure of your wholesaler, that may not work for you overall. Most eCommerce platforms will let you rename or define your own categories, so your top-level navigation and subsequent sub-categories are catered toward your customer's needs.  
  • Merchandising: Is your homepage promoting products in a well thought out manner? Is it clean, simple, and appealing or does it look like a disorganized retail store? Think of the pages on your site as aisles, like those in a retail store. If the flow does not make sense — pants are lumped in with tops and clearance items are disheveled — it makes for an unpleasant buying experience. Keep product merchandising and design organized and clean.  
  • Simplify your checkout process: Minimize the steps and offer a guest checkout process. It can be tricky to set a guest contract price, but it needs to be done because new customers want ease and convenience. Not offering a guest checkout process could deter new buyers from using your site. Once you make the initial sale, have a conversation to put them on a better contract pricing plan.  
  • Update your site frequently: Swap featured products and promotional banners. Add blogs and guides that are educational and beneficial to your customers. Sprinkle in reviews and make sure your product detail pages contain the best content possible.  

Below is an example of optimized website for checkout simplicity, navigation, and merchandise promotion, visit Grainger’s website, a Denver-based cleaning distributor (see Graphic 3). 

Graphic 3

Once on a sub-category page you can easily dive into more specific product categories, filter products, search within this subset of results (see Graphic 4).  

Graphic 4 


In short, make the experience and interface easy, streamlined, timely and relevant. By doing so, your customers will stick around.

next page of this article:
Tips Distributors Can Use to Drive Website Traffic