B2B vs B2C eCommerce: Same But Different


Anna Korolekh

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: April 20, 2021

Although B2B and B2C eCommerce models have some traits in common, there are fundamental differences between the two. Organizations and individual consumers make purchases for different reasons, are driven by alternate motivators, and have unique sets of expectations that have little in common.

Many companies make the mistake of supplementing a consumer retailer website with “add-on” B2B features, only to find that the online store cannot handle the complexity or the needs of B2B and B2C eCommerce consumers. In order to create the best possible eCommerce environment for your target audience, it’s important to start with the people you are servicing – your customers. Let’s explore why these two groups can’t be approached in interchangeable ways.

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B2B vs B2C eCommerce: Difference Between B2B and B2C eCommerce Customers

  • Buying Rationale vs Impulse

While both B2B and B2C eCommerce consumers purchasing rationale can be considered predictable in their own right, they are actually quite different in nature. Consumer behaviours are often dictated by the emotions surrounding desires and attractive pricing. Business purchases, on the other hand, are economic-based, well planned, and made in terms of business value. Since B2B consumers are more pragmatic, it is important to provide accurate and immediate information relating to business financial advantage and product relevance. Advanced search options should include appealing, yet detailed, product codes and descriptions.

      • Individual vs Team Decision Making

In contrary to B2C customers, whose purchase choices are made independently, clients in the B2B space typically go through a more rigorous purchasing process that involves the input of multiple decision-makers or stakeholders. In order to obtain purchase approval, a business must undergo certain processes behind the scenes. A purchase interest will typically begin with a budget approver, is passed to a product researcher, and the purchase contract, all before delivering to the end user. In order to satisfy this process, it is important for the business facilitating the sale to provide comfortable, business-friendly buying conditions and information that can satisfy various stakeholders and workflows.

For example, if you are hoping to issue machinery to a car manufacturer; the engineer responsible for the part of interest will appreciate easy access to certificates and product deliverables, the finance manager – flexible terms of payment, and your main point contact – 24/7 support. All aspects of the product, the purchase, and support must be readily addressed in order to ensure that all of the decision-makers are comfortable with your proposed solution.

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      • Short-Term vs Long-Term Relationships

When it comes to building relationships, B2B and B2C eCommerce are very different. B2C shoppers tend to purchase sporadically and in smaller volumes. Their loyalty to your brand can easily be swayed by a more attractive product offer. On the contrary, business consumers are more keen on building strong, long-term partnerships and connections with established and stable businesses they can trust. The very heart of B2B eCommerce is the potential to form long-term relationships with promises of repeat purchases. Repeat purchases are created through personalized purchasing environments that include product catalogues, price lists, exclusive payment and shipping conditions, and a customized checkout process. The key to fostering longstanding relations with your permanent business clients is a reliable CRM designed around managing all of your client interaction channels.

      • Fixed Pricing vs Diverse Pricing

Because of the nature of B2C purchases – quick, direct, one-time – B2C providers don’t typically customize their pricing per web-shop visitor. However, this isn’t the case for eCommerce’s B2B counterpart. In the business-to-business sector, prices quite often fluctuate depending on location, the consumer, negotiated contracts, special offerings, the relationship history between the two companies, etc. In fact, B2B clients often hold expectations for customer-specific product discounts to be available for their particular company. This information should be available instantly to your business clients via their personalized backend of your eCom store.

      • Direct vs Post-Delivery Payments

Business-to-consumer payments are also known as a direct payment process. In order to successfully conclude an order, B2Cs purchase your product or service directly with a credit/debit card, bank account, or gift card. Within the B2B ecosystem, orders are typically processed on a credit basis and invoiced at a later date. Because a different person often handles product ordering than account payables, this routine provides your point of contact with convenient, quick, and frequent ordering methods. This is especially helpful to B2B customers who are used to handling particular payment terms (e.g. net 30, net 60, net 90). Your eCommerce store and CRM software should provide all of these options and accounting systems to keep track of each of your client’s varying payment agreements and accounting methods.

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      • Quick Delivery vs On-Time Delivery

B2C consumer’s expectations generally revolve around instant gratification. Their purchasing journey begins on impulse and ends with the speedy delivery of their order. Companies who operate within the B2B framework, on the other hand, surround their business-related purchases around predictable and scheduled delivery times. Since business operations often surround the purchase of certain products, receiving an order on-schedule is critical for that month’s smooth business activity.

For example, if your client requires various pieces of machinery to manufacture trucks, a delay in a single delivery locks their means of production, translating into losses for to their business. Delivering B2B orders as expected is not a bot ton, but essential for a B2B merchant.

The B2B purchasing process can be distinguished from B2C due to its scope, scale, and complexity. Because of this, it isn’t feasible to treat B2B consumers as regular end users. The various incompatibilities of individual and business expectations and purchasing behaviour mean B2B clients must be approached with consideration and care to avoid costly mistakes.

Meet the Expectations and Needs of Your Business Clientele with a Proper B2B Solution.

Presenting yourself as a reputable, reliable, and trustworthy B2B eCommerce vendor must be met with consistency and care. Although there are many things one might look to pull from the B2C world, the approach to these separate segments is met with various requirements.

Despite the proportionally wide range of customizable options, software designed around B2C simply doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate complex transactions and processes that are integral to the B2B sector.

On the contrary, a B2B eCommerce platform that has been designed from the ground up as a business solution provides robust sales infrastructure and fills B2B area requirements by:

      • Facilitating the management of intricate corporate accounts
      • Enabling authorized purchasers and B2B merchants to handle user access to sales-oriented data such as product catalogues, price lists, and ordering history
      • Allowing the management of multiple websites, stores, and businesses from a particular administrator’s console
      • Equipping a built-in content management system to administer and manage contents of description-rich product catalogues that can be tailored for various audiences
      • Allowing the creation and handle of customized prices and shopping lists
      • Seamlessly guiding B2B buyers through the process of creating and submitting purchase orders, order forms, or requests for quotes (RFQs), along with areas for the sellers to react respectively.

Digital vendors that integrate an eCommerce solution into their existing business systems have the opportunity to notably double the impact of their efforts in the B2B market.

In Conclusion

What makes B2B and B2C business models distinct from one another are the goals and interests of individual and group purchasers. Where individuals make purchasing decisions off of impulse, business buyers plan and make rationale orders based on their organization’s specific needs. Their collective decision-making process generally involves a longer sales cycle that includes acquiring goods in bulk and searching for client-specific pricing, delivery terms, and payment. These overarching differences between B2C and B2B clients mean that targeting business consumers in the same way that you would target individual consumers would scarcely prove efficient in the growth and stability of your business.

In order to auspiciously grow your online B2B business, it is critical to adopt an eCommerce solution that is designed for the needs surrounding the B2B space. Tailoring your product purchasing process to business needs rather than consumer needs is how you can deliver an outstanding consumer experience without sacrificing genuine B2B functionality.

A practical B2B eCommerce platform provides a central, integrated environment that your online merchants can efficiently share with their business purchasers as a means to interact and negotiate. As soon as your clients are signed in, they gain access to an account tailor to their specific needs and vendor agreements, including bulk pricing, shipping options, charge history, and so much more. Within the CRM system, online merchants are able to offer their B2B clientele customized catalogues filled with detailed information on merchandise, product images, user-friendly front-end interface, and multi-channel support.

She is a Marketing Manager at Oro Inc.

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