The Great eCommerce Divide: B2B and B2C Differences

Selling online seems simple in theory. Select an eCommerce platform, load the product catalog, and start accepting online payments. While this may be the case for B2C companies that sell straightforward products, it becomes much more complex in the B2B realm. While the ultimate goal is the same in both arenas—to convert browsers to buyers—the journey is decidedly different.

When planning a B2B eCommerce site, the first step is to understand the differences between businesses and individual consumers when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

Selling Online to B2C Customers

Individual consumers tend to purchase based on emotion rather than logic. While strong marketing strategies can help get consumers on a site, purchasing tends to progress pretty quickly once in the sales funnel. For instance, if a shopper is interested in handbags, the shopper will most likely follow a smooth path to purchase as long finds the right selection and price are present—and as long as the experience is user-friendly. Many individual consumers make personal purchases that don't require a great deal of research or follow-up service.

For B2C sites that don’t need customization, an eCommerce template may be a sufficient solution. While they certainly need to be functional and secure, it’s essential that consumer sites stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Key Elements of a Successful B2B eCommerce Site 

  • Polished, user-friendly design
  • Wide range of products and price points
  • Secure log-in
  • Clear calls to action
  • Accurate shipping information
  • Quick and easy checkout process
  • Mobile Optimization
  • Ability to submit POs
  • Group discounts and special pricing
  • Customer service access

Selling Online to B2B Customers        

Business customers take a different approach to buying online. Business-to-business purchasing decisions are based on business needs and goals, as the buyer evaluates which sellers offer the solutions that most closely meet their clearly defined specifications. Business sales are less about quick, impulsive decisions and more about building long-term relationships. Trust is a big factor in B2B sales, companies seek reliable, reputable partners they can depend on to help grow their organizations.

See how Magento and Web Solutions NYC are helping business-to-business online retailers raise their average order volume by over 24% >>

 Accountability is a big factor in the B2B world. If a wrong purchasing decision is made, there are likely repercussions from people in higher-level positions. With business purchases, a misstep could reverberate through the entire company—and could adversely affect the buyer’s career.

 B2B eCommerce sites also need to convince multiple people—not only the buyer, but the “middle man” who makes the recommendations and the C-level executives who have the power to veto a sale.

To accommodate these variables, B2B eCommerce sites are built more around function and information than design. They must be polished and professional, but flashy “bells and whistles” won’t do much to coax companies into converting. There should be a strong focus on creating a secure, reliable, and customized shopping experience, and on solving organizational problems. It’s all about giving the buyer the knowledge and peace of mind to make a thoughtful, deliberate decision.

Interesting in expanding your selling capabilities to business buyers? Contact us to learn more about custom features and capabilities Magento and Web Solutions NYC can provide to make your B2B strategy a revenue-driving success.

Karah Finan