The biggest difference between B2B e-Commerce and B2C is the buyer personas. It completely changes the game when you are dealing with a business or a retailer buying products. It’s important to appreciate and consider the key differences and the nuances in how they make purchase decisions. Let’s understand in detail how B2B e-Commerce is different from B2C.
A B2B buyer cannot just randomly pick a product out of his/her whims and fancies. The product and its variant is carefully chosen by the buyer in accordance with their business requirements. Finding the reliable manufacturer who ensures good quality as well as reasonable prices is another task for the B2B buyer. Further, logistics are to be taken into consideration by both the parties, as buyers have to decide when they want to source the stock. It is too much work to do every time.
The effort doesn’t end here. B2B buyers appreciate an experience where high volumes of quantities can be easily added across multiple categories. If required, order quantities should be divided into different shipping dates. As mostly the same products and their variants are required on repeat, the buyer must be able to duplicate the previous order from the order history. In both cases, the buyer is making an investment in your product and often taking significant inventory risk onto their balance sheet by choosing to do business with you. To aid the decision-making process, it’s important that brands provide specific, relevant content for B2B buyers.
A key differentiation between B2C and B2B e-Commerce is the level of access provided by default to a buyer on the manufacturer or distributor’s B2B portal. Typically, any anonymous buyer on the internet can access a B2C website and browse the selection and pricing, while B2B environments require validated identity and access requirements. In other words, they are “invite only.”
The approval workflows required for a given B2B buyer to gain access to your store will always be somewhat unique to your business, but may include important requirements like credit checks, territory evaluation to avoid retailer/dealer territory conflict, minimum order volume agreements or other terms or conditions. This process might sound like a bottleneck, but it also ensures exclusivity for the buyer. This one time effort secures the relationship at both the ends and smoothen the process for all the future transactions. This buyer exclusivity leads to the data specific to each buyer through which the seller can target personalised offers, schemes, promotions, and explore other marketing opportunities.
B2B buyers purchasing from you online typically need to educate their retail staff or sales representatives on the merits of your product and the retail unit economics (price, margin) of each SKU, so that they might effectively on-sell the product to others. Even if your buyers are purchasing your products as an input to their existing business, they need to be knowledgeable and conversant in the particular value your product delivers.
As a supplier, it’s important that your retail training program is complemented by a self-serve library of product education resources like sell-sheets, training videos and merchandising guidelines. Not only does this help to minimize unnecessary customer service calls; better educated buyers have better sell-through rates and higher rates of customer retention.
Unlike B2C buying, B2B buyer requires sales rep assistance to make purchase decisions and it should be complementary to online B2B buying which makes the retailer comfortable in investing money in your products. A personalised touch of human assistance also helps in building trust and relationship, which makes the buyer comfortable. Sales representatives are expected to function as advisors and consultants not order takers.
As software will save time doing all that routine order-taking and management work, they will have more time to acquire and consult wholesale customers, building relationships; eventually make them successful. To know more, check out this blog: How B2B e-Commerce and Field Sales can work together
B2B e-Commerce portals require a login because of the importance of customer-specific pricing–often on a per-product basis–that needs to be correctly presented to a given buyer. Pricing terms are also commonly set on a per-account basis. Without this, buyer confidence is lost and the buyer will be forced resort to offline channels without the option of convenient online ordering.
In B2B, pricing tiers applied by customer group are so common as to be almost expected by buyers. Similarly, promotions are also configured to help the wholesale customers or retailers in achieving business targets specific to their business potential.
There are other critical differences that are mostly unique to the B2B purchasing use case:
A B2B buyer requires better shopping experience than a B2C buyer. Stakes are too high in B2B transactions, as large investments are involved; whereas a B2C buyer can casually shop for a product and risk a small amount of money. At Edistera, with years of experience, we are putting efforts in bridging the gaps between manufacturers—distributors—retailers. Technology can make all the processes transparent, leaving no scope for any conflict. If Edistera B2B e-Commerce platform interests you, please feel free to contact us for a demo.