E-commerce has revolutionized the way shopping is done. It has made it more convenient for shoppers to search and browse products from the comfort of their living room on a computer or a mobile device without ever stepping foot into a physical store.
High-quality photos with zoom-in capabilities, extensive product descriptions, product videos, ratings, reviews, discounts coupons, payment options, customer support, and free shipping provide every reason to prefer online shopping.
Both businesses and individuals shop online. The key differences in the needs and shopping habits have led to a universal market segregating into B2B and B2C e-commerce.
B2B is “Business-to-Business”. In B2B e-commerce the transaction involves a business selling products/services to another business. The buyer will probably resell the products/services to a customer. There are a few reputable B2B e-commerce platforms.
B2C is “Business-to-Customer”. In B2C e-commerce the transaction involves a business selling products/services directly to the customer. There are various B2C e-commerce platforms. Examples of well-known ones are Amazon and Zappos.
Now, let us look at the main differences between B2B and B2C e-commerce. This will give you an idea of how they are both different from each other.
1. Buyer Persona
The buyer persona for B2B and B2C e-commerce is completely different. B2B buyers are more focused and take their time to conduct research on products they are buying. They look for educational content, in-depth reviews, customer support, and more.
B2C buyers are more focused on satisfying a need and hence do not conduct as extensive research as B2B buyers on every product they buy. They look for great ratings, reviews, discount coupons, and convenient checkout options.
2. Website Design
The website design says a lot about the business. Both B2B and B2C websites have different designs based on what is valued more by the target audience.
B2B website design has more focus on product demos, educational content, blogs, instant chat, and customer support. This is because B2B buyers take the time needed to research everything about the product they are buying before committing to purchases. All the educational material and resources enable them to make better-informed decisions.
B2C website design has more focus on making the website look visually appealing. There are carousels, discount codes, an after-sales system to handle returns/exchanges, and easy checkout options. Convenience is prioritized over more educational resources to make it extremely easy for customers to place orders.
3. Customer Lifecycle
The lifecycle of the customer influences how B2B and B2C e-commerce operate. A longer lifecycle warrants a lot of commitment and trust, while a shorter lifecycle needs more marketing push, discounts, and easy checkout options.
B2B e-commerce has a longer customer lifecycle. This is because the buyer takes the time to research products from various sellers and eventually settles on one seller. The buyer is a business and is looking for a long-term commitment from the seller to deliver products in bulk quantities.
B2C e-commerce has a shorter customer lifecycle. This is because the buyer is a customer who wants to get the best deal on his/her purchase. The purchases can be impulsive and driven due to targeted marketing campaigns. There is no requirement to buy large quantities and hence the need for commitment is short-term.
4. Purchase Decision
In B2B e-commerce, there are multiple decision-makers and hence the purchase decision can take a long time. Everything proceeds from one approval to another which makes the process complex. The approvals are needed to reach the final decision. This makes B2B e-commerce sellers provide more resources to simplify the research of the buyers.
In B2C e-commerce, there is usually a single person who makes the purchase decision. There are no wait times and as soon as the buyer has made up his/her mind, the purchase can instantly happen. Purchases can be emotional and impulsive which explains the need for vivid images, discounts, and paid ad marketing to quickly acquire customers.
The pricing differs for B2B and B2C e-commerce. This is due to the nature of the buyers.
B2B e-commerce has dynamic pricing that changes based on the number of quantities bought, shipment destination, customer loyalty, and others. B2B is a relationship between two businesses that need constant work to be beneficial for both parties. The B2B seller can provide better prices for regular customers and for more quantities purchased. All this is done to keep the buyer happy and keep purchasing more. The buyer returns the favor by providing regular business for the seller.
B2C e-commerce has fixed pricing for all shoppers. There is no minimum order quantity requirement and hence shoppers can make one-time purchases and never worry about having to maintain a relationship with the seller. Usually, the average order value in B2C e-commerce is much lower than the average order value in B2B e-commerce.
The different marketing approaches taken by B2B and B2C e-commerce to attract and retain customers need to be highlighted.
B2B e-commerce focuses on educating their audience and hence look for the email and contact information of customers. Once this information is received, the customer is added to the lead list and a sales representative takes over from here to get in touch with the customer to convert them. Advertising on Google, Facebook, and Instagram are not very popular in B2B.
B2C e-commerce focuses on using marketing to push new, popular, and best-selling products to customers. The effort is expended on stoking the desire to browse products and make immediate purchases. Advertising on Google, Facebook, and Instagram are very popular in B2C. Email marketing and influencer marketing are effectively used to boost sales for the site.
As a seller, understanding the difference between B2B and B2C e-commerce allows you to make the right decisions for your business to maximize profits.