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B2C vs B2B Customers: How to Handle the Difference

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B2C vs B2B Customers

Although B2B and B2C eCommerce models have some traits in common and even borrow best practices from each other, the core difference between the two is the portrait of the target audience that they sell to. B2C and B2B customers make purchases for different reasons, their buying behaviour is driven by different motivators, and their unique customer expectations have very little in common. These are most critical nuances making B2C and B2B purchase groups so distinct.

Below, we explain B2C vs B2B buying behaviors, habits, and expectations to show why these customer groups can’t be approached in identical ways.

Differences Between B2C and B2B Customers

#1. Buying Impulse vs Rationality

Often times, consumer purchasing behaviors  are dictated by emotional buying decisions based on certain desires or attractive prices. However, business customers’ purchases are well-planned, predictable, economic-based, and made in terms of a business value. Because B2B customers are pragmatic buyers spending more time on product research and weightening up its relevance and financial advantage for business, it’s important to allow them immediately find the information they search for. This includes advanced search option, detailed yet appealing product descriptions and product codes.

# 2. Single Decision-Maker vs Multiple Decision-Makers

Unlike B2C consumers who are single buyers and make purchase decisions independently, B2B clients are often involved in a more complex buying process with multiple stakeholders. The chain of people engaged into the decision making can consist, for example, of the budget approver, the researcher collecting the information about the product, the point of contact, and the end user. Because there so many parties involved into the buying decision from B2B client’s side, it’s important for a business selling to another business to facilitate comfortable buying conditions able to satisfy multiple workflows and stakeholders. For example, if you’re selling some machinery to a car manufacturer, ensure there are product deliverables or certificates a person responsible for engineering part may be interested in. The person in charge of finance will appreciate your flexible payment terms and the main point of contact anticipates 24/7 support. The only way to secure a deal is to make sure that the whole decision-making group is comfortable with the solution you offer.

#3. Short-Term vs Long-Term Relationship

B2B customers are keen to building long-term relations and partnerships unlike the B2C shoppers who tend to buy sporadically in much smaller volumes and then may quit for good. As opposed, businesses putting much effort into long process of choosing a trustworthy supplier prefer to build strong and stable connections with their established partners. Long-term relationships provide an endless potential for repeat purchases that are in the very heart of B2B eCommerce. In this regard, creating a personalized environment including price lists, product catalogs, exclusive payment and shipping conditions followed by a customizable checkout process will increase the chances of repeat purchases. Fostering long-term relations with your permanent business customers becomes much easier once you have a reliable CRM system in place as it’s designed to manage all customer interaction channels.

# 4. Fixed Prices vs. Diverse Prices

The B2C consumers usually make orders at a set price that’s the same for the rest of the webshop visitors. However, this is not the case for the B2B counterpart. In the B2B area, there’s no universal pricing as the prices may fluctuate depending on a customer, their location, negotiated contracts, relationship history between the companies, etc. The B2B clients expect customer-specific product discounts applicable to their specific company. This information must be instantly available to your business clients once they’re logged in to the eCom store.

# 5. Direct Payments vs. Post-Delivery Payments

To complete an order, the B2C consumers typically pay directly opting for an appropriate payments solution, e.g. credit or debit cards. In the B2B ecosystem, the order payments are routinely made on credit  because business customers every so often make a few purchases within a short period of time. Instead of paying for every single order that has been placed, the B2B buyers get an invoice or a monthly quote which is a great payment alternative ensuring quick frequent ordering. Unlike B2C, B2B customers are used to dealing with particular payment terms that vary from client to client (e.g. net 30, 60, or 90), so ensure your webshop provides all of these options and your CRM and accounting systems can properly keep track of varying conditions each client has.

# 6. Quick Deliveries vs. On-Time Deliveries

The B2C consumers are more concerned about the speed of delivery of their orders scattered in time. The companies operating within the B2B framework have their business-purpose purchases scheduled and care about predictable delivery times instead.  Getting an order in due time is crucial for smooth business activity. For example, if your customer acquires different pieces of machinery to manufacture trucks, delivery delays of one single batch of details locks production and entails losses for your client’s company. Delivering customer orders on time is not a bon ton but a must for a B2B merchant.  

B2B buying process is distinguished from B2C due to its complexity, scope, and scale while B2B customers can’t be treated as regular end users. Multiple incompatibilities of an individual and a business customer purchasing behavior and expectations mean approaching your online B2B clients as if they were ordinary buyers might be a costly mistake.

Meet Needs and Expectations of Your B2B Clientele Via a Proper Solution

While there are many things B2B eCommerce vendors are looking to copy from the B2C world, it is important to approach these are two separate segments with different requirements.

Despite relatively wide range of the customization options, the B2C-oriented software simply doesn’t have capacity to accommodate all of processes and complex transactions integral to the B2B environment.

An eCommerce platform created from ground up as a specifically B2B solution on the contrary  fills digital B2B area requirements and provides respective sales infrastructure by

  • Allowing to manage complex corporate accounts
  • Enabling the B2B merchants and authorized buyers to manage user access to the sales-related data such as price lists or product catalogues
  • Making it possible to manage multiple businesses, websites and stores from a single administrator’s console
  • Providing a built-in content management system to manage the contents of description-rich products catalogues that can be customized and displayed to different audiences depending on who they are
  • Allowing to create and handle multiple customizable price and shopping lists
  • Letting the B2B buyers easily create and submit order forms, purchase orders, or requests for quotes (RFQs), and the sellers react respectively.

The digital B2B companies that incorporate an eCommerce solution among their existing business systems can significantly double the impact of their efforts in the market.

In Conclusion

These are the customers – the key figures of the entire selling process – who make B2C and B2B business models so distinct. Business buyers make their planned and logical orders based on company’s specific needs.They are involved into a compound decision-making process and generally long sales cycle, acquire goods in bulk, look for the customer-specific pricing, payment, and delivery terms. These are just a few overarching differences when it comes to B2C vs B2B clients, therefore targeting business customers the same as regular consumers would be scarcely efficient if only possible at all.

To successfully grow a company selling online to other companies, it’s vital to adopt an eCommerce solution designed for the needs of the B2B  space. That’s how you can deliver your clients an outstanding B2C customer experience without having to sacrifice a genuine B2B functionality.

A viable B2B eCommerce platform offers an integrated environment the online merchants can share with their business purchasers to negotiate and interact. Once your clients are logged in, they access a tailor-made account displaying customer-specific costs and bulk prices, shipping options and charges, and much more. Within the eCommerce system, the online merchants offer their B2B clientele catalogs full of product images, detailed merchandise information pages, multi-channel support, and a user-friendly frontend interface.