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The Epic Battle: B2B vs. B2C eCommerce

The Epic Battle: B2B vs. B2C eCommerce

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House Lannister vs. House Stark. Cats vs. dogs. Marvel vs. DC. The struggle is real. And in the business world, the new rivalry is B2B vs. B2C eCommerce.

Regardless of which side of this new rivalry your company is on, there is one thing that is the same between the B2B and B2C eCommerce worlds — you’re still selling products to a person. There are, however, many differences between B2B and B2C, especially when it comes to the type of market and business model your company is serving. Read on to learn more about the key differences between B2B and B2C eCommerce.

Nailing Terminology

Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) are two forms of commercial transactions that differ in complexity, scope, scale and cost. By definition, B2C is a process for selling products or services directly to consumers, while B2B is a process for selling products or services to other businesses. As such, B2B and B2C correspond to two completely different business models.

Getting Down to Business: Understanding Key Differences

B2B and B2C eCommerce are distinct in several ways. Their main degrees of separation are:

1. Purchasing behaviour and rationale

B2C customers buy products or services for personal use. Purchases are often made in the moment, driven by desire or motivation, and due to an emotional and less rational, thought-out response. This makes their sales cycle short and the B2C purchasing process transactional.

B2B customers, on the other hand, make their purchasing decisions based on logic. They spend a lot of time conducting online research prior to buying and exploring the fine details of a long-term deal. This makes their sales cycle lengthy and more complex, and the B2B purchasing process rational with frequent re-orders. In fact, according to a recent B2B ECommerce Trends survey, B2B buyers perform an average of 12 Google searches before starting the buying process.

2. eCommerce Infrastructure

B2C eCommerce involves selling products to consumers directly from a website and requires a simple and straightforward infrastructure to operate. A B2C business system needs a mechanism for:

  • displaying products and prices on an eCommerce website to enable customers to browse product information pages
  • recording customer details each time they select products and provide information, such as their address
  •  accepting payments via credit or debit card upon checkout and offering different delivery options

B2B eCommerce requires a more advanced and complex business system that is personalised to different customers and capable of:

  • displaying only relevant products when a customer logs in to avoid browsing a complete catalog
  • providing pricing (e.g. offers and discounts) and payment options (e.g. bank transfer, PayPal and credit, etc.) per customer
  • integrating orders with other systems so that customers can manage purchasing, stockholding and distribution efficiently
  • capturing data and generating business reports that provide insights on a customer’s purchasing behaviour

3. Privacy

While B2C eCommerce provides all customers with the same level of access to all products and price points, B2B eCommerce offers more customised privacy settings. B2B eCommerce providers can restrict the per customer visibility of certain elements, including product categories, products (including product variations and options), price points, and payment options.

4. Pricing

While some B2C customer purchases have high price points (e.g. cars or luxury items), the majority of B2C price points are much lower than the monthly or annual price points charged by large B2B enterprise software or services businesses. In the B2B environment, contracts are routinely priced in the six or seven figures range. In fact, the average B2C order value is $147, while B2B averages $491 per order.

This higher B2B price point and longevity of typical contracts (which often require building consensus among multiple stakeholders) is the reason why B2B customers need more time when making a buying decision.

In terms of actual price points and payment options, B2B businesses offer customers more flexibility and variety depending on their needs, while B2C businesses follow more standardised and static methods.

B2B vs. B2C:  More Alike Than You Think

Yes, B2B and B2C eCommerce do have significant differences in mindset and philosophy, but they still share a few similarities. According to research, several items rank among the most valued shared capabilities that both B2B and B2C business owners need to provide to their customers when it comes to online ordering. They are:

  1. A user-friendly online storefront that makes it easy for customers to find products.
  2. An eCommerce platform that allows for promotions and special offers.
  3. A mobile-friendly website.
Remember, although B2B and B2C customers may make their purchasing decisions as a result of different motives, they are still people. And this means that both B2B and B2C marketers and salespeople need to leverage psychology to build a lasting connection with their target audience.
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