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To truly understand the differences between B2C vs B2B eCommerce, you need to first understand who you are selling to. B2C and B2B customers make purchases for different reasons, their buying behavior is driven by different motivators, and their customer expectations are quite unique. In this article, we explain how to handle the B2C vs B2B eCommerce difference and cater to the needs of your actual customer.

Differences Between B2C and B2B Customers

#1. Buying Impulse vs Rationality

A consumers’ purchasing behavior is often dictated by the emotional appeal of a product incited by vivid commercials or attractive discounts. On the contrary, business customers’ purchases are typically well-planned, calculated, and driven by the actual product’s value. Because B2B customers are such pragmatic buyers who spend a lot of time on product research and cost-benefit analysis, it is crucial to provide them with in-depth information about your products. This includes advanced search, search autocomplete, and filtering as well as comprehensive product descriptions, marketing sheets, and videos on product pages. Product information management and mobile experience are two prominent technologies that can help you further improve your B2B eCommerce content development and representation.

# 2. Single vs Multiple Decision-Makers

Unlike B2C consumers, who are single buyers typically making purchase decisions independently, B2B clients are often involved in a more complex buying process with multiple stakeholders. For example, a group engaged in a B2B decision-making process can consist of a budget approver, a researcher collecting the information about the product, a point of contact, and an end user. Because there are so many parties involved in the buying decision in B2B, it is important to facilitate all specific workflows and provide the necessary information required by different stakeholders. For example, if you’re selling some machinery to a car manufacturer, make sure to include specifications and certificates that best showcase your products in front of the customer’s technical team. The person in charge of finance will appreciate your flexible payment terms, and the main point of contact will be happy to have 24/7 support. The only way to secure a deal is to make sure that the whole decision-making group is comfortable with the solution you offer.

#3. Short-Term vs Long-Term Relationships

B2B customers are keen on building long-term relations and partnerships, which is quite different from B2C shoppers who tend to buy products spontaneously. Finding a trustworthy supplier allows B2B customers to speed up and simplify repeat purchases, which are very common in B2B. To foster such win-win long-term partnerships, B2B sellers must strive to create a personalized environment for their clients, including personalized price lists, product catalogs, exclusive payment and shipping conditions followed by a customizable checkout process, all of which will increase the chances of repeat purchases. Promoting long-term relations with your permanent business customers becomes much easier once you have an eCommerce-compatible CRM system in place. In close integration with your eCommerce platform, it will enable you to manage all customer interaction channels, run campaigns, and tap into actionable customer behavior data.

# 4. Fixed vs. Personalized Prices

B2C consumers usually make orders at a set price that’s the same for all buyers. However, this is not the case for B2B eCommerce. In the B2B segment, there’s no universal pricing as the prices may fluctuate depending on a customer, their location, negotiated contracts, relationship history between the companies, and other factors. B2B clients expect customer-specific product discounts for their specific company. This information must be instantly available to your business clients once they’re logged in to the eCommerce store.

# 5. Direct vs. Post-Delivery Payments

To complete an order, B2C consumers typically pay with a standard form of payment, such as cash, credit or debit cards. In B2B, order payments are routinely made on a line of credit, or invoices, because business customers often make multiple purchases within a short period of time. So, instead of paying for every single order that has been placed, B2B buyers get an invoice or a monthly bill for all their purchases. Also, unlike B2C, B2B customers may expect different payment terms that vary from client to client (e.g. net 30, 60, or 90). If you are in B2B, make sure your eCommerce webstore supports all of the required payment options and be sure your accounting system can properly keep track of varying conditions for each client.

# 6. Quick vs. On-Time Deliveries

B2C consumers are concerned about the speed of delivery of their orders more than anything else. B2B buyers see it differently. Their purchases are usually scheduled to meet their ongoing operational and production needs, which is why they care about predictable delivery times more than speed. And this is why B2B customers seek long-term, reliable partnerships. Delivery delays may lock production, disrupt supply chain operations, and inflict reputational losses on your client’s company. That’s why B2B sellers need to invest in efficient delivery and warehouse management capabilities as well as keep their eCommerce system and ERP in sync to avoid out-of-stock issues.   

An online buying process in B2B is different from B2C due to its complexity, scope, and personalization. B2B customers can’t be treated as retail shoppers. Focusing on their unique needs will help you position yourself as a future-proof partner, online CX leader, and a B2B eCommerce success company.

B2C vs B2B eCommerce Solutions

While there are many things B2B eCommerce vendors are looking to copy from the B2C world, it is important to keep in mind how different the customer is and approach these two segments accordingly.

Despite the feats of customization and adaptation in some cases, B2C-oriented eCommerce software simply doesn’t have the capabilities to accommodate all of the processes and complex transactions integral in B2B. An eCommerce platform specifically designed for B2B provides the majority of necessary features out of the box and radically simplifies a B2B customer’s buying journey, for example:

  • Allows managing complex corporate accounts
  • Enables B2B merchants and authorized buyers to manage user access to sales-related data, such as price lists or product catalogs
  • Allows managing multiple businesses, websites, and stores from a single administrator’s console
  • Provides a built-in content management system that helps maintain, customize, and display different content to different audiences
  • Streamlines management and personalization of price lists and shopping lists
  • Enables B2B buyers to easily create and submit order forms, purchase orders, or requests for quotes (RFQs) as well as receive corresponding information and documents from the seller.

Digital B2B companies that incorporate a B2B eCommerce solution among their existing business systems can target their customers more effectively and take full advantage of a rapidly growing B2B eCommerce market.

Through a B2B Customer’s Eyes

Putting the customer first is highly important in B2B because they are so much more sophisticated and, in addition, none of the two B2B buyers are the same. That’s why the effective adoption of B2B eCommerce starts from understanding the fundamental needs of a B2B buyer and how personalized experience matters. From here you may go on to face new challenges, such as marketing for B2B eCommerce or how to deliver omnichannel customer experiences. But make sure you always look through a B2B customer’s eyes.

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