Enterprise B2B Supplier Research

The Company* product team launched a B2B Payment Product* which enabled businesses to access capital to pay other businesses. The Company served as the intermediary by verifying the payee banking and business information and made payments on behalf of the business up to the limit of the businesses’ approved capital. This case study summarizes research for a new customer segment for the B2B payment solution.

*Disclaimer: To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I’ve replaced the company name with “The Company” and the product name with “B2B payment product” both in the text and the representative assets. All images and files within this case were recreated by me to represent the assets I created during this study.


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Project Snapshot


Seven product team members (product manager), three researchers.


Junior Researcher. I also designed wireframes and created the prototype for usability testing.


6 months


Increase adoption of suppliers for B2B payment solution; vendors and suppliers


The Company product team launched a B2B payment product which enabled businesses to access capital to pay other businesses. The Company served as the intermediary by verifying the payee banking and business information and made payments on behalf of the business up to the limit of the businesses’ approved capital.

During the product’s initial launch, the product and development teams created a landing page, “Invite a Vendor”, so that businesses could add the payees’ information to send payments. Within this landing page, the product team created an “add a vendor” checkbox, which allowed businesses to store business and payment information for future use. This feature aimed to streamline payments to vendors, as businesses could look up existing vendor information within the database for repeat payments.


The B2B Payment Product team engaged our research team to learn more about their customer segment in order to increase engagement on the “Invite a Vendor” platform. Our research team conducted stakeholder interviews and experience sampling with the B2B Payment Product team members to set the research objectives for a new study. Key assumptions and findings that emerged from the stakeholder interviews were:

Key Findings:


Using insights from previous research studies and new stakeholder research, our team began the second phase of the research project: exploring suppliers as a new customer segment.


I led a research ideation session with our product partner to develop the research objectives and the methodology we would use to answer the research questions.

Based on this business need, we developed the following research objectives:

  • Gather feedback on email template, landing page prototype, and product value prop to generate future designs as they relate to clarity of relationship between The Company and the suppliers, Trust/privacy and Localization
  • Identify and describe customer behavior, motivations, and attitudes to develop strategic initiatives aimed at increasing the number of sign-ups to the vendor database
  • Communicate the value prop to prospective customers


We developed questions for the discussion guide to explore the research objectives using qualitative interviews and qualitative usability testing for the e-mail template, landing page, and value proposition based on the following primary questions:

  • Does the user understand the purpose of the email?
  • How does the user anticipate what happens after clicking the call-to-action button?
The Company E-mail
Landing Page
  • Does the user understand the landing page?
  • Does the user understand the vendor database section (“invited a vendor” checkbox) on the landing page?
Vendor landing page
Value Proposition
  • Who do they think would use the product? Who would it be inappropriate for?
Case study art- value proposition


During the time of this study, my team was also exploring ways to provide product managers with faster research results for critical timelines. This meant that we modified our usual 10-12 customer interviews to 5 for this particular study, based on Norman Neilson guidance of running more iterative design processes.


Due to the supplier segment being a niche population, I worked with the product manager and account management teams to recruit 5 customers from multiple industries who worked within payment departments within their companies (ex. accounts receivable, electronic payments, cash management, customer payments).


We conducted 1-hour sessions in two parts: first, by asking general questions about customers’ operational behaviors and preferences within their companies and then by conducting qualitative usability sessions.

*Discussion guide questions are not displayed due to my non-disclosure agreement.


We derived themes from the analysis and synthesis of interviews and explored these themes and sub-topics in thematic analysis to provide richer context for customers’ underlying behaviors, needs, and motivations.

View web version of document here.

We recorded customer points and topics within a tracker that enabled us to develop themes based on patterns within the interviews. I created a color-coded sheet to record individual observations during the usability testing.

View web version of usability observation spreadsheet here.



We organized thematic data into quotes, laddering up to points, topics, and 4 themes, written in the voice of the customer. This provided valuable insight into why customers reacted the way they did in usability tests.

*Detailed data from the thematic analysis is not displayed due to my non-disclosure agreement.

Hierarchy of Thematic Analysis
Hierarchy of thematic analysis
Thematic analysis communication structure

The following themes emerged from the qualitative interviews:

  1. Minimizing data streams: customers dealt with both complexity and a high volume of financial transactions in their job
  2. Need for IT solutions to eliminate manual reconciliation: This complexity and volume was compounded by manual reconciliation processes with outdated systems. Customers worked within their internal IT departments and external third-party vendors to find ways of streamlining payment processes but faced a long road ahead of them
  3. Changing payment landscape leading to systems compatibility issues and increased risk of fraud: technological change led to systems incompatibility and also increased risk of fraud, which they worked to mitigate through regular monitoring
  4. Fundamental responsibilities – reporting and setting up payment infrastructure: their fundamental responsibilities included setting up and maintaining the payment infrastructures for their organizations and/or departments
The following pattern emerged from usability feedback for the e-mail, landing page, and value proposition.
*Individual data from the qualitative usability is not displayed due to my non-disclosure agreement.
  • Email
    • Customers understood the email was for a payment requisition but believed there would be a cost associated with the service based on familiarity with similar products
    • They understood that by clicking the call to action, they would be taken to a landing page where they’d be prompted to fill out a form with their business information
    • They were familiar with emails like this from other payment companies
    • Some interviewees scrolled to the bottom of the email expecting to find more information about the program
The Company E-mail
  • Vendor landing page
    • They were confused about who the site was intended for and did not identify as the name of the customer segment (ex. “suppliers”)
    • They understood the site enabled B2B payments, but they were unclear about the backend relationship between the company and the payer
    • They were hesitant to enter sensitive data and wanted more information about the payer
    • Some said they would complete the form because they don’t want to have to login to multiple systems to retrieve remittance details
    • Customers didn’t mention this until prompted to by the moderator
    • While they understood that this section would allow The Company to save their information for future use by other companies that wanted to pay them in the same manger, only one mentioned that this feature would benefit them
Vendor landing page
  • Value Proposition
    • Interviewees believed small businesses would use this product
    • Most thought it would be inappropriate for large businesses
    • They understood the value proposition but not all of them knew about the product
Case study art- value proposition


Based on results from the thematic analysis and usability testing, our research team provided the following recommendations for phase 2 development of the e-mail, landing page, and value proposition:

  • Email
    • Highlight service has no cost and that the payment is deposit into ACH
    • Included FAQ link to product page in footer
    • Specify whether the process will require additional logins to a system
    • Ensure the info about the payer and invoice # seamlessly matches the content and design displayed in the adjoined Vendor Site landing page
  • Landing Page
    • Describe the company’s intermediary role between the payer and payee
    • Highlight measures to ensure security and privacy of the site
    • Specify whether the process will eventually require login to a system to receive remittance details
    • Highlight the benefits of “save my information” checkbox outside of the fine print
  • Value Prop
    • Tie the customer experience into a cohesive story
    • Be more explicit about the user targets as small business owners
  • General
    • Language should focus on task that need to be completed and highlight the pain points the product solves, which includes:
      • No costs/interchange fees
      • How payments are deposited
      • How the company will ensure their security
      • No payment negotiations with the payer are needed
    • More clarity is needed for the following:
      • Will the user need to login to a new system?
      • How and when will they receive remittance details for reconciliation?
      • Will accepting this payment require any changes to existing payment infrastructure


Our team’s research was well received by the B2B product team, which led us to partner with another product team in order to present the research findings. One surprising result of the research was the resulting discussion around our recommendation to eliminate the language around “supplier” from product collateral as customer feedback showed they were confused by the term; were they the suppliers or were their “vendors”? This provided an important discussion about naming conventions within the product, as these involved multiple departments (i.e. marketing, compliance) to think about the ramifications of changing the names on marketing materials and finding a name that would be approved by compliance departments.

One key next step for research and product strategy would be to explore the experience beyond the email and landing page. What does the customer experience once they submit the vendor information into the database? How will they create a unified payment system where customers can both view and reference invoices more readily? How will the B2B Payment Product be integrated into other business payment systems to provide a more streamlined B2B experience for customers?  Perhaps the next phase of recent can explore the product customer journey across many related products in order to answers those questions.

Card art photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 2020.