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B2C vs B2B eCommerce

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When it comes to selling things online, everything is the same, right? Don’t you just need a website with a shop function and that’s it? Well, not exactly.

B2C vs B2B eCommerce

There are some significant distinctions between B2C and B2B eCommerce, including the customer types you serve, and the corresponding tools you need for selling and ordering online for each. So, let’s dive into the world of B2B and B2C eCommerce and explore some insights on the key differences between the two.

What is B2B and B2C?

B2C means “Business to Customer” transactions. This is the type of e-commerce (or commonly called online shopping) that the majority of consumers are familiar with. It basically means when an individual buys an item from a website or signs up to a service online.

B2B means “Business to Business” and refers to the transactions carried out between different companies. A business offering a service to another business would be considered a B2B transaction, as would a wholesaler selling products to a retail store.

It may not be immediately apparent to many, but these two markets have very different needs from your eCommerce website, in both the way the website looks and the functionality required.

What's Different About B2B eCommerce?

The key difference between these two environments is “who” you are selling to. Each different type of consumer will have different motivations for buying things, different purchasing behaviours, and their expectations of service will also differ.

B2B tends to be a lot more complex than B2C. There are many things that need to be considered in a B2B environment that do not necessarily apply to B2C. For example:

  • B2B usually requires more advanced pricing structures such as individualised pricing for different customers, pricing groups, consideration of GST, and advanced volumetric pricing (i.e. the more you buy the cheaper the rate).
  • Many B2B customers will undertake 'On Account' ordering. That means they do not pay as they order as B2C customers would. However, the pricing still needs to be displayed correctly so they understand what the cost will be. Payment is then due as per the standard or agreed terms and conditions.
  • Most general consumers will only buy one or two of each item. However, business purchases often include larger quantities of many different items. 
  • Shipping and delivery requirements are generally much more complex with B2B.
  • B2B sales usually have a much higher proportion of repeating business than B2C. This means more effort is often required to make repeat buying easier for these clients (e.g. product favourites, quick ordering systems, or even repeat-ordering systems).
  • Often there are multiple individuals related to one company account. You need to be able to effectively see and manage correspondence and activities from multiple people in one place.
  • Clients in the wholesaling or business environment tend to be subject matter experts when it comes to their products (i.e. wholesalers, retailers, or industry experts). They will need and expect more technical information about products and services than a B2C consumer.

What Does it Mean for Your eCommerce Platform?

As you can see, the kind of eCommerce platform required by a B2B Product business is a lot more complex than your standard B2C website.

In terms of eCommerce platforms and solutions, this often means that:

  • Most eCommerce platforms, like Shopify standard, are primarily built for a B2C environment only. 
  • There will be lots of communication needed between the website and various other aspects of the business. That can include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and accounting systems. This means an “out-of-the-box” option will not be sufficient.
  • Searching and filtering functions on eCommerce websites often need to be more detailed for business buyers. They have a more technical and expert level of product knowledge and will require a higher level of detail than B2C customers.

As a rule of thumb, standard B2C eCommerce solutions generally don’t have the functionality required for B2B businesses. Instead, you will require a more customised solution that performs all the functions to run your business smoothly and to still provide an excellent customer experience.

That is where we can help with your online business requirements, we offer specialist solutions that can handle the distinct needs of B2B eCommerce. Get in touch with us today if your current website could use some work, or if you are looking to build a brand new web solution.

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