Many companies we work with supply products to both trade (or commercial) customers and also provide products and services to retail customers. Often they have concerns about how they can provide a single website that meets the needs of both customer types effectively. 

The first point to make is that this is achievable and while many companies favour one customer group over another, there are many companies who do this successfully. In order to evaluate and emulate their success we can break their approach down into four categories of thought:

1. Segmented homepage & navigation

Having clear navigation is key to any website. Signposting exactly where customers can find what they are looking for is the first step to considering how a website can meet the needs of any two (or more) customer groups.

Broadly speaking the best approach is to make sure the top-level navigation (your menu) highlights your core audiences. There should also be two buttons or links (we only advise a maximum of two in most cases) that customers can use if they prefer on-page navigation rather than menus (this is more common on mobile devices. These buttons or links should be as high up the page as possible, preferably in front of the header image – the more scrolling the user has to do to reach them, the less effective they will be.


If the items / services you are selling are exactly the same for each audience then it may be advisable to focus on other areas rather than navigation by customer type. In this case, ensure you are making it as easy as possible to see the products and / or services you provide and get more details.

2. Account management & payment options

The biggest difference between commercial and retail customers is often around the way they make purchases and their needs around billing. 

Retail customers prefer to use recognised payment portals such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal and Credit Card payments and favour speed over anything else. They also expect cheaper (or free) shipping, typically only have one address for items to be sent to and do not require other information or services such as invoices, purchase orders or quotations (for larger orders). 

Commercial customers in some industries still prefer to have a single point of contact (such as an email or phone contact) and a line of credit to make regular purchases. The best approach when defining the website approach for a commercial customer is to have a clear idea of the full scope of what a commercial customer needs, then create a login and account process that offers these options. You may choose not to offer everything through the website, depending on how often a particular request happens or what your offering is to your different customers. 

We often recommend a pathway where trade logins are applied for in a more traditional way, but the trade website logins have special permissions and features when going through the billing processes. Using a login can even affect the pricing shown on the website to include elements such as VAT figures, multi-buy options and special discounts at the checkout. 

3. Marketing & promotions

Segmenting the information provided about customers when they sign up to receive marketing materials (such as if they are a trade or retail customer) is essential. 

This data will inform the content of the promotions and also help generate more revenue by personalising the message. Making sure promotions are clearly shown in areas such as the login page for commercial customers or as pop-ups for retail customers (non-logged-in customers who have been on the website for some time, typically limited to purchases of one item) can improve the conversion rate and also help ensure sales are boosted across both areas. 

Having a clear focus on the goals for both audiences – for example, increasing the basket amount for retail customers by offering free shipping if they spend over a certain amount or for commercial customers tiered discounts based on spending.

4. Advertising and Landing Pages

The advertising for two different audiences should always be fundamentally different. The places the advertising is actually featured, the value propositions, methods of contact and even demographics should always be clearly defined if you are looking to grow the two separate audiences effectively. 

The most important element of this journey is too often overlooked. The landing page is perhaps the most crucial element of any successful advertising campaign. Having at least one landing page per audience targeted by advertising is a quick and easy way to grow your audiences and optimise for growth. Capturing information quickly at the entry point means you require less information from that person, but it also means you are able to easily test and optimise a single page to generate conversions rather than losing them in the rest of the website. 

If you provide products rather than services, this can be more difficult, because the user will want to view the product before they sign up to anything. In this case, creating a powerful value proposition the moment they reach the website with targeted promotions and discounts can both reduce drop-off and mean you gather their details as quickly as possible before they continue. Where possible, try to gather their email address first, allow them to continue shopping and then validate their details at the checkout by asking them to check their emails to get the discount code.

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