Business-to-business (B2B) apps are designed to help organizations interact, collaborate, and conduct transactions with their business partners, suppliers, and customers.
Building a B2B app can foster stronger business relationships with your clients — assuming that the app functions well and offers in-demand features.
Although there is no foolproof template for building a dynamic and competitive B2B app, there are several features that new app developers and seasoned professionals alike can draw from to increase their app’s value in the eyes of its target audience.
Keep reading to learn about the best B2B app features and how you can use them when building your own.
The Difference Between Designing a B2B App and a B2C App
B2B and B2C apps necessitate different designs because they have different goals — and are aimed at different audiences.
Here are some of the key distinctions:
B2B: Businesses and professionals are the primary users of B2B apps, which is why a B2B app’s primary objective should be to ease the user’s workflow and make them more productive and efficient on the job. If the client works with large sums of data, for example, the ideal B2B app may include powerful analytics tools and robust capabilities for data visualization.
B2C: Most B2C app users are individuals who have personal or otherwise non-business reasons for using the app. In many instances, their mobile device is their primary tool for performing technical as well as everyday tasks. B2C app users are also more likely to perform those tasks alone, rather than in collaboration with colleagues or customers. People in this category want apps that are easy to use and can improve their way of living.
B2B: B2B apps handle complex business processes and data. In turn, they often support customizations, multiple user roles, collaborative communication and workspaces, and other advanced features designed to navigate complicated or challenging work tasks. Because of their sophisticated functions, it’s not uncommon for first-time users to encounter a learning curve.
B2C: B2C app designs are all about simplicity. To support a streamlined experience, they need beginner-friendly features and interactive interfaces that can satisfy the most basic of user needs. B2C apps are more likely than B2B apps to prioritize an intuitive user experience over support for complex functionality.
B2B: B2B app users need data and analytics to make informed decisions about their business, which is why many B2B apps are built to process, analyze, and visualize data. The mobile app development process should make in-app metrics and data as accessible as possible.
B2C: B2C app users are more likely to take action and make decisions based on personal needs and wants, rather than on data. Consequently, B2C mobile applications rely on simple information hierarchies, tidy navigation, and crystal-clear calls to action that can guide the user’s journey while encouraging the outcomes they expect from the app.
B2B: Few businesses rely on a single software or app. In fact, many B2B clients want their apps to support and facilitate integration with the other services they use. B2B apps are at their most versatile and powerful when they can support integrations with other popular business software. The project management app Asana is a great example: it can integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) software, time-tracking tools, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
B2C: B2C apps don’t need as much integration as B2B apps, but may still need to integrate with external services like payment gateways, social media platforms, or location-based services. Still, less need for integration means that B2C apps have a shorter software development timeline than the average B2B app.
B2B: Users may need more in-depth training and ongoing help to get the most from a B2B app. User guides, video documentation, and helpful customer support should be part of a B2B app’s onboarding process.
B2C: People who use B2C apps expect them to help them do more independently. The ideal B2C app is intuitive enough that it doesn’t necessitate training materials, but may provide user-friendly FAQs and tutorials to ensure their users feel supported.
B2B app users have different expectations, and those expectations influence the design approach.
Understanding these distinctions is crucial to developing user-centric apps that meet the needs of their audience.
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What Makes Great B2B Apps Stand Out From Competitors?
Successful B2B apps don’t necessarily have the most innovative or cutting-edge features. They provide solutions that ease the work of a business or professional.
Here are six features behind why some of the most competitive B2B apps excel.
1. Superior User Interface
The best B2B user interfaces are both functional and experiential.
Functional UI design emphasizes usability. For a B2B app, that means users can easily navigate the app to accomplish tasks in spite of the app’s complexity.
When a user interface is functional, it reduces a product’s learning curve. Prospective customers are more likely to adopt the product.
Less-than-functional user interfaces may complicate the user’s learning process, and can discourage the adoption rate.
Experiential UI design takes functionality one step further by underscoring the user experience. It enhances the user journey with appealing visuals and an engaging interface.
Although most B2B apps prioritize function over aesthetics, they can still benefit from strong and attractive visuals. A well-designed user experience impacts user feedback and satisfaction, and even word-of-mouth marketing.
B2B consumers choose the product that makes their experience easier, not the other way around.
To put things in perspective, here’s a brief overview of how design and brand consultancy firms like Anyday incorporate functional and experiential B2B design elements.
The more interactive the design, the more the design will engage users.
For example, drag-and-drop functionalities increase user engagement because anyone — even non-technical users — can use them. Interactive data visualizations, charts, and animations allow end users to read and interpret data in a multitude of ways.
B2B app interfaces should prioritize task efficiency. That means reducing unnecessary steps and providing shortcuts or automation options.
A functional UI design should also focus on consistency to support uniform representation of every action or element within the app.
Consistency helps users navigate apps faster. This is why most applications use the universal "x" symbol as the close button.
Minimal Cognitive Load
Cognitive load is the amount of mental effort that a user needs in order to process and understand information. For maximum usability, B2B apps should aspire for a low cognitive load.
End users, not industry observers, should assess cognitive load. A trained product designer is better positioned than a copywriter to comment on the cognitive load of a product design app.
That being said, minimizing cognitive load allows users to focus on their tasks and goals without getting overwhelmed.
Use clear and concise labeling, visual hierarchy, and contextual cues to reduce the cognitive load of your B2B app’s features. Avoid cluttered interfaces and excess information, which can each hinder user comprehension.
Check Out: Build an All-Encompassing B2B Brand Strategy
2. Performance and Reliability
Clients rely on these apps to make their operations smoother. Every time a B2B app crashes or goes down, the businesses that rely on them lose money.
Your B2B app should count on delivering high performance and reliability to avoid losing its market to competitors.
Downtime or disruptions can harm the client's business operations and damage trust. When Facebook went down for several hours in 2021, many users and businesses moved to Twitter to communicate. Some of those moves were temporary while others were permanent.
By prioritizing reliability, an app can cultivate retention and loyalty within its current customer base while attracting new business.
Likewise, apps should be optimized to weather the demands of complex business processes and large data sets. Fast load times, as well as quick responses to user actions, are critical.
B2B app designs should factor in performance and reliability from the ground up. Your development team can design a scalable system architecture that can support user surges, withstand cyberattacks, and allow for later changes and modifications.
3. Competitive Features
Research competitor apps to gain insight into which features are currently supported, versus which features are in high demand but not yet available.
Competitive features will vary depending on the industry and the nature of the B2B app. Some features may have broad utility while others are more niche or tailored to specific sectors.
Among the most common but competitive new features in B2B app technology are:
- AI assistants
- GPS integrations for location-based services
- Advanced analytics tracking for data-driven insights
- Voice search capabilities for hands-free operations
Microsoft’s integration of Bing ChatGPT with Skype is a prime example of a B2B app adding competitive, cutting-edge features. In response, Skype competitor Zoom has announced that its communications platform will soon collaborate with OpenAI to integrate new artificial intelligence features.
4. Security and Data Privacy
B2B clients are committed to protecting the security of their own customers and customer data — and expect the same commitment from their app providers.
Ignoring cybersecurity and data privacy threats can compromise user data and damage a B2B company's reputation.
A growth-focused B2B app should prioritize security measures to protect sensitive business information and ensure compliance with data privacy laws and regulations.
Implementing industry-standard encryption, access controls, and authentication mechanisms is essential. Regular app security audits and updates should be conducted to stay ahead of evolving threats.
Data privacy is no different. B2B apps should communicate their data handling practices, obtain necessary consent, and provide options for users to control their data.
Complying with privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), demonstrates a commitment to user privacy and can help build trust with B2B clients.
5. Value-Based Pricing
Price friction can be pivotal for B2B clients, who want a clear return on investment (ROI).
Value-based pricing is an effective strategy to address this concern and prevent price resistance or potential customer attrition.
With value-based pricing, the cost of the B2B app is aligned with the value it delivers to the client's business. This approach focuses on understanding the client's pain points, objectives, and expected outcomes.
By demonstrating the tangible benefits and ROI that the app can provide, a B2B company can justify its pricing structure and establish a mutually beneficial relationship with its clients.
At times, pricing may be the sole factor that differentiates a thriving B2B app from one that fails. An article in the Harvard Business Review identified acceptable price points as a critical factor in B2B customers’ purchase decisions.
6. Competitive Marketing Strategy
Without a competitive app-marketing strategy, an innovative product becomes a well-kept secret at best.
Identify your B2B app's unique selling points and value propositions. This involves understanding the target users and their pain points, as well as how the app addresses them better than competitors.
Leveraging case studies, testimonials, and success stories can help build credibility and showcase the app's effectiveness.
Go-to-market strategies can include:
- Targeting specific industry verticals.
- Partnering with complimentary service providers.
- Offering specialized solutions for niche markets.
Utilizing software marketing tools and channels such as content marketing, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and targeted email campaigns can amplify the reach and impact of the marketing efforts.
By developing a competitive marketing strategy that effectively communicates the value of the B2B app and differentiates it from competitors, a company can increase its chances of attracting and retaining clients.
Great mobile app ideas should center the needs of its B2B audience. The most successful apps prioritize functional and experiential UI design, incorporate interactive features, and keep cognitive load to a minimum.
Although cross-platform app design is more urgent for B2C apps that cater to consumers, you can broaden your B2B app’s audience by designing it to work across iOS, Android, Windows, and Apple/Mac.
Collaborate with your design and development teams to pin down the right features for your app, or contact Anyday to schedule a consultation. We’ll help you design a fast, visually stunning app that can fulfill your most challenging business goals.