There’s more than one form of e-commerce available to aspiring business owners. In fact, B2B and B2C both have been around even before shopping online became a thing. Both forms of e-commerce have evolved alongside Internet technology. We find some aspects are good for different consumers.
But it’s the difference between the two major forms of e-commerce we’d like to focus on. While there are situations in which the lines blur, there are differences nonetheless. Here are some examples of what sets B2B and B2C e-commerce apart from each other. This ranges from the approach as well as how they interact with consumers.
This should help you decide which business is better suited for you.
The Technology Monster that Levelled the Playing Field
One major difference between B2B and B2C is how they organize their online space. The latter tends to gravitate to user-friendly e-commerce platforms like Shopify. The store-hosting platform started in 2004 and boasts over 500,000 stores. The majority of them are of the small to medium-sized variety. Gary Stevens is the founder of HostingCanada.org as well as an e-commerce researcher. According to him, the larger brands that fill the B2B field tend to look for proprietary, individualized solutions.
Though that might be changing.
“That used to be the case,” Stevens said. “But the ground is shifting underfoot. Shopify is becoming such a ubiquitous presence that – and I know this for certain – some high-priced web developers mix a little Shopify into the individual platforms they sell.”
The bottom line is easy to see. E-commerce platforms have had the ultimate effect of bringing B2B and B2C closer. Specifically, in the way they present themselves online.
The Targeted Customer Base
The most important difference between B2B and B2C e-commerce is the consumer base. Which sector of the consumer base does your company seek to reach?
Are you interested in B2B marketing? That means you’re targeting organizations to sell goods or services. These organizations can be businesses, municipalities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
B2C commerce is different. The emphasis is on reaching out and connecting with individual consumers. Your goal is to sell to people. That means you sell in single units or small quantities at a time. Your sales strategy will be for individuals. You will not be convincing high-level decision makers. Large entities will not be purchasing the products your offer.
Long-Term Planning Versus Short-Term Buying Decisions
With B2C e-commerce, the decision to buy something is often reached in a shorter period of time. Your targeted customer is more likely to want the features of the product. This could be any aspect of your product. It could be the appearance, the color, or some other aspect. This can motivate an immediate sale. With this type of e-commerce, impulse buying can and often does occur. In short, B2C commerce often involves appealing to the tastes and emotions of the buyer.
B2B requires a longer window of investigation than B2c. A business-to-business transaction will focus on the benefits that the buyer will experience. This includes how long the product will last and the ROI the buyer will experience. It could even be about the product meeting expectations. B2B demands a longer period of consideration.
Retention marketing is something that you should consider in any case. The goal is to identify useful processes. These processes give customers of all types a reason to come back and do business with you again. Many of these incentives encourage past customers to refer your business to others.
Many Hands Versus a Single Hand
B2B Business owners understand that the sales process won’t involve one point-of-contact. There may be several people who weigh the options. They will also determine if doing business with the seller is a good idea. This makes it necessary to appeal to each decision-maker.
Consider the case of a teleconference provider seeking a client. In this case, a large retail company. The initial contact may be with a Telecom. It could also be with an IT manager. They then may include a CFO, CEO, and other company officers in the review and evaluation process. Primary users of the technology in the company may also be decision-makers. The teleconference company knows it could take several months to secure the contract.
By contrast, the B2C transaction involves a single buyer and a seller. You have a website that sells old and new vinyl records. The single buyer comes to your website. They check out the inventory, select several items, and pay for them. Then you ship them to the address provided. The entire process is a short amount of time.
Brand Loyalty Versus Shopping Around
With B2B selling, there’s usually something that builds a degree of brand loyalty. It could be the fact that your products work so well. You may have a volume purchase-agreement in place with your corporate client. The client buys a certain volume each year. They will receive a discount off a standard rack of rates. In this situation, the client has high customer satisfaction. There is less chance that the client will stray.
With B2C selling, the transactions are usually stand-alone. You may offer some incentives to come back and buy products again. The customer is more likely to comparison shop each time they need to buy something. For example, you may offer a food delivery service that the buyer uses once and likes. The only thing is that the customer is in the mood for a type of cuisine that you don’t deliver. If your rival does offer that cuisine, guess where the customer will place an order this time?
With both B2B and B2C, remember that customer has limited patience when it comes to placing an order. Make sure your online store loads quickly and the buying process is easy. That one aspect will go a long way toward satisfying consumers of all types.
Social Media Use
Businesses of all types use social media today. B2B commerce may focus on a handful of specific social media platforms. B2C may focus more on different ones. It all goes back to your target audience. Are you more likely to encounter individual consumers on some platforms? Will decision-makers at various businesses be on other sites? Structure your social media presence. Base it on where you’re likely to connect with the right consumers. You’ll get more returns for your efforts.
Continual Buying Cycle Versus a One-Time Cycle
B2B sales tend to recur on a continual basis. That may be due to the presence of a contract. It could be due to satisfaction with the quality of the products that you offer.
The contract terms may apply to more than one product offered by the seller. the buyer may be back to buy a variety of items. The ability to buy in bulk and get some sort of discount is also likely to prolong the buying cycle.
A B2C cycle is often short and may not occur again. It depends on how happy the buyer is with that first transaction. With B2C purchases, there may or may not be a contract to ensure ongoing purchases. At any time, the consumer may choose to sample what a competitor offers. Depending on how that works out, you may not see many purchases coming from that buyer again.
At a basic level, the needs of a corporate entity are different from those of an individual consumer. The challenge in making sales to one type or the other lies in grasping what motivates them to make a purchase.
This should help you decide which business is right for you.
Some elements of your online sales setting will be similar. What will your consumer base find most enticing? Plan your sales strategy based on that and put the pedal to the metal.