In recent years, much has been said about the digital business-to-consumer model (B2C) versus the digital business-to-business (B2B) model, in terms of customer acquisition, scope, pricing, customer retention, product variety, and most importantly, profitability. While some organizations prefer to emphasize their wholehearted efforts on a single model, others try to play their cards safe by supporting a hybrid of both.
B2C user experiences are guiding the standards for B2B and have a significant impact on the expectations of today’s tech-savvy buyers. Due to this, merchants today are facing enormous challenges when it comes to transforming the ways by which they sell and products and services are delivered online. It is, however, important to first understand and clearly illustrate the complexity of B2B by comparing the requirements and features of B2C and B2B eCommerce.
On the other hand, B2B eCommerce represents an important strategic opportunity. Currently, a big majority of business buying decisions are taking place on the internet and the global B2B market continues to enjoy a favorable run. This surge is primarily due to a wide range of factors, notably, there is an ever-evolving demographic setup in a rapidly growing digital economy.
Let’s dive into some of the main differences between B2C and B2B eCommerce spaces, and the important concepts that are of paramount importance, irrespective of the end user profile.
Comparison of B2B and B2C merchant requirements
Fewer larger customers versus multiple simultaneous customers
B2B eCommerce involves larger, fewer clients and the transactions are primarily characterized by highly-customized processes.
On the other hand, the success of B2B eCommerce is usually predicated on the growth and evolution of a broad customer base who generally have a habit to follow the same process for the most part. Business clients (B2B), usually, tend to purchase in bulk quantities while the average order value is generally lower in B2C transactions.
Streamlined versus Flexible Payment Options
Typically, B2C payment processing is simplified and payment information is captured during the process of online checkouts through debit or credit cards or similar forms of payment. On the other hand, B2B clients receive more liberty in the context of payment methods (offline and/or online) such as payment on credit, budgeting workflows, purchase orders, etc.
A credit facility is allowed by a big majority of wholesalers to facilitate partial payment of invoices. B2B transactions are more complicated and time-consuming in nature since the value of purchases is usually on the higher side. B2C transactions are usually autonomous and a result of impulse purchases
Consumer Choice versus Order Approval
Any customer can purchase any product within his or her means with B2C. The buying cycle is short and the purchase decision is based on personal preferences, desires, and emotional wants. B2B purchases are more logical and planned in nature and based on functional requirements and business needs. They are characterized by a longer buying cycle as procurement is subjected to order approval and workflow.
One-Time Purchase versus Reorder and Replenish
From an eCommerce website, a single-time purchase may be all that happens or is required for the end user. Since B2C eCommerce has low entry barriers, the number of choices before consumers are vast. Usually, consumers are purchasing different products and different quantities each time from different sources.
In comparison, B2B clients usually select a reliable supplier and from whom they can easily reorder and replenish stock as and when required. In short, the focus is to create and nurture long-term, mutually-beneficial business relationships.
Simple Products versus Customized Solutions
B2C customers are usually not much into exhaustive product descriptions and they are happy to make a purchase by accessing basic information about products such as instructions to use, composition, etc.
B2B customers require greater details and highly customized solutions and usually a long lead time. In B2B transactions, buyers usually have a habit to ask for detailed information before the final purchase is made as the process is featured by stricter approval processes and substantial order values.
Broader audience versus Narrower audience
The target audience in the B2B space is far broader and therefore the greater focus in on customer acquisition although customer retention is equally important. B2B prospects are not only businesses but also specific kinds of businesses and acquiring new customers usually revolves around hitting a much narrower target. However, efforts pay great dividends when they are successful.
Let us have a close look at the volume of global gross merchandise in B2B vs B2C eCommerce:
Long waiting period versus Short waiting period
In B2B eCommerce, most brands usually need to reach and sell to a couple of hundred customers to crack their first million in sales. Conversely, B2B eCommerce brands usually need to reach and sell to hundreds and thousands of customers to touch the magical first million figure.
Set Pricing versus Negotiations
The sales processes of B2B are differentiated by personalized pricing negotiations, subject to contracts and quotations. Generally, large business customers have more bargaining powers than individual consumers. Conversely, B2B eCommerce is usually characterized by the same price for all consumers with the exception of discounts and segmentation-based promotional activities.
Item in Stock versus Accurate Inventory Visibility
A simple “Product in stock/Product out-of-stock” status will usually suffice for B2C end users. On the other hand, lead time estimates and precise quantity availability are considered important rudiments for B2B customers who require specific goods and buy in bulk.
There is no denying the fact that there are many areas where B2C and B2B converge. It is important for each eCommerce store to offer an easy-to-navigate and intuitive website and storefront else it runs the risk of losing customers.
It is always suggested to stay aware of the differences between B2B commerce and B2C commerce methodologies and use the above-mentioned considerations. This will indeed assist and guide you to create and nurture the most relevant, engaging, and delighting buying experience for your target audience.