Customer & Partner Success

Boosting Digital Marketplace Revenue with Search

By Ideas @ AppDirect / May 6, 2020

Boosting Digital Marketplace Revenue with Search COVEO

In 2019, AppDirect and Coveo announced a partnership to bring the power of AI to subscription commerce. In this guest post, Andrea Polonioli, Product Marketing Manager at Coveo, explains why a great search experience is critical for a successful digital marketplace.

The digital economy has evolved quickly. Age-old industries have been disrupted and the way B2B businesses operate and understand buyers is being reshaped. More precisely, business buying has become increasingly consumerized, with many B2B players selling and delivering directly to their buyers.

Of all the trends that have shaped the digital economy over the past decade, perhaps none has had a bigger impact than the rise of consumer tech. The iPhone set off a tidal wave of easy to use devices and software, and completely reset expectations for what makes a "good" technology experience for consumers and businesses alike.

The effects of this consumerization are now rippling across the B2B landscape. Companies of all sizes expect procurement to be as easy as clicking a few buttons, just like it is for many consumer technologies. Nowhere is this trend more visible than B2B digital marketplaces. Just like B2C marketplaces, these online hubs provide ready-made connections between buyers and sellers, and they are rising in popularity. In fact, Forrester predicts that 17 percent of the $13 trillion in B2B spend will flow through marketplaces by 2023.

What Makes a Digital Marketplace Successful?

An increasing number of companies are pursuing marketplace strategies, and they are already common in some industries. For example, 70 percent of large SaaS companies have a digital marketplace. It’s one thing to have a marketplace, but success is far from guaranteed. To reap the benefits of a marketplace—increased revenue, a better customer experience, and more—it’s essential to consider the critical components that will drive success for your digital marketplace.

There are many elements that contribute to success—easy recurring billing, seamless provisioning, great design, user reviews and ratings, and more. However, customers can’t buy if they can’t find what they’re looking for. That’s why powerful search capabilities are a critical driver for marketplace success, and can significantly boost gross merchandising volume (GMV).

The Importance of Search

Survey after survey reveals that search is fundamental to the B2B buying experience. For example, in a Forrester study, 60 percent of B2B buyers listed onsite search as one of their top three preferred features when making technology purchases.

But, B2B technology providers can’t just provide any search; it has to measure up to the high standards set by B2C websites. In fact, your B2B buyers likely experience the “two-window phenomenon.” That is, when they have one B2B website open in one window, they likely have a favorite B2C website open in another. They will directly compare B2B websites against an easier-to-use B2C customer experience.

So then what does a great search experience look like? The short answer is: It depends. Each company is different, which means that every company has different products and other factors that will impact what good search means for them. Search will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, and variables, such as the depth of the catalog and the behavior of your users, always have to be factored in to determine the right solution.

But, there are a few important factors that affect search for many B2B technology providers. Here we’ll focus on the most critical capabilities that will help make your digital marketplace successful.

Elements of a Great Search Experience

Ultimately, your search solution should enable your buyers to find the B2B SaaS and services they are looking for while respecting your business priorities and enabling you to continuously learn and drive improvement. More specifically, there are a few key elements that go into creating a superior search experience.


Findability refers to how easy it is for your buyers to locate products and services while browsing or using search. Discoverability—how easy it is for buyers to encounter solutions they weren’t looking for—is also important, but keep in mind B2B customers don’t have the time to stumble on products they might want to use. They want to find what they need, and fast.

To boost findability, powerful query suggestions can help your customers find the B2B SaaS they want even faster, nudging them to use the correct domain terminology, correcting their misspelled queries while they are typing, and reducing the amount of time users need to spend combing through search results to find the product they want.

Synonym management is also key. Customers express their purchase intent in several ways, some of which may use different vocabulary than a digital marketplace uses. This word gap can translate to zero results being retrieved, and to missed revenue. Best-in-breed search tools can help you create a thesaurus entry that expands queries to appropriate synonyms while also providing automatic synonym extraction and generation. This is the most advanced way that search can handle the continuously evolving, contextual nature of human language.

Two additional aspects of findability are filters and faceted navigation. Here, filter refers to anything that analyzes a set of content and excludes some items, whereas faceted navigation is actually composed of multiple filters that comprehensively describe a set of content. These functions allow your buyers to refine their searches and help them drill down into results more easily, removing friction and streamlining the purchase process.

Business Logic

While findability is key to the success of a digital marketplace, search experiences must also be informed by your business priorities, and results should be geared toward generating revenue. A search solution should empower your marketing and merchandising teams by providing them with user-friendly tools that enable them to fine-tune the buyer’s experience, manage promotions, boost and bury products, and accommodate business requirements.

Beyond search, teams can also use recommendations to showcase relevant and complementary cross-sells and buy-together options, both of which can have a significant impact on average order value.


Knowledge is power, and analytics can provide a range of helpful insights about your buyers. Site search analytics are the information that comes from the analysis of the search queries used by buyers. What did they search for? What do their searches tell you about them and their needs? Did they find the product they were looking for or leave your site? Do their experiences suggest any improvements to your product portfolio?

The answers to all of those questions can provide you with the knowledge to fill the gaps in your content strategy and deliver answers to your users. They can also equip you with data to help you run A/B tests and measure KPIs to determine the best strategy for driving more conversions.

These are just some of the elements that go into creating a great search experience for your B2B SaaS buyers. When done well, search can not only improve the usability of your online store, but it can also power significant revenue. 

To learn more about the importance of search for digital marketplaces, please visit or download a data sheet by filling out the form below.

Andrea Polonioli is a Product Marketing Manager at Coveo.