5 Minute Read

One size doesn't fit all, especially related to differences in the buying processes of Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) consumers. Typically B2B consumers focus on logical process-driven purchasing decisions, while B2C consumers tend to lean towards emotion-driven purchasing. The B2B buyer is a professional buyer fulfilling a specific company need. The buying decision won't be spur of the moment but instead planned for with a buying schedule often synced with organizational needs. B2B eCommerce goes beyond nameless, faceless transactions and requires an entirely different selling approach. If you're a B2B merchant, working with an eCommerce agency with B2B experience is critical. 

If you're a B2B eCommerce retailer, here are four reasons why working with an agency with B2B eCommerce solution experience is key to the success of your online store.

B2B Customers Buy Differently

Typically, B2C customers buy as individuals, so the buying process usually involves one-on-one interaction between the customer and your eCommerce website. The process is shorter in time and individual in the decision-making. The sale is usually less rational and driven more by desire, motivation, and the need for instant gratification. 

The process looks very different when making decisions about your personal use than when purchasing for your business. Emotions aren't a significant factor in B2B purchase decisions, and these customers often take a significantly longer time researching before making a purchase. Once they see initial benefits, they'll explore your site to learn more and investigate all your product details that matter to them. They tend to look for verified third-party reviews and research competitor options. After all, any purchase made directly impacts their business, so the stakes are high.

Bottom line? B2B customers buy differently. With the rapid growth of B2B eCommerce, you'll need to adapt if you want to stay relevant.

  • There is no single "B2B customer". They're demographically and geographically diverse, across all industries.
  • Purchasing is not a binary decision for B2B buyers, and it's not "buy" or "don't buy."
  • B2B marketing in 2020 is about creating unique, self-serve experiences - you'll need to appeal to all types of buyers at all stages of the process.

The entire buyer journey for B2B customers is different, and as a result, you'll want to work with an eCommerce agency with B2B experience. Regardless of the products you're selling, if the agency you're working with has B2B experience, they already understand how the B2B buying model works. With that experience, they'll help you be successful online. And, if you're already an online retailer, they'll be working with you to ensure you do it even better.

B2B Customers Want to be Educated

With 73% of millennials involved in the B2B buying process, the B2B market is more digital than ever. Data shows that 70% of B2B buyers begin their buying journey online. They search for knowledge and information to guide their purchase decisions and can be easily overwhelmed with information while researching solutions. Educational statistics important to the B2B buyer include:

  • 48% of B2B buyers rely on vendor websites when doing research for purchase decisions and doing ROI analysis
  • 77% of B2B buyers report spending more time on research for purchase decisions compared with 2019
  • 58% of mid-stage purchasers want to see assessments, 50% want webinars, and 40% are most interested in case studies

Business-to-business buyers value suppliers that make it easier for them to navigate the purchase process. Irrespective of the niche you are in, you need to find ways to educate your current and potential customers continually. More than three-fourths of B2B buyers say vendors must share relevant content that speaks directly to their needs. What they find important is 

  • Easy access to pricing and competitive information
  • Relevant industry-specific content that shows expertise in their vertical
  • Easy access to ungated content
  • Vendor-focused content such as case studies and product data sheets
  • Thought leadership content such as white papers and research

Gartner research has found that customers who find the information provided by suppliers helpful in advancing their purchase are more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease and three times more likely to make a more significant purchase with less regret.

B2B Orders Require Different Processing

Unless you're selling cars or other high-ticket items online, the ordering and shipping process is highly automated. And if it's not, it should be and is something an experienced eCommerce agency can implement for you.

With traditional B2B orders, automation is not the norm. Products are generally more expensive or bought in bulk. Purchases tend to be larger and often require more complicated logistics. For example, if you're a B2B office furniture supplier, you don't expect people to order two chairs and a desk. They can pick those up from the nearest IKEA store. 

Small orders are the exception in B2B commerce. In the typical case of getting orders that are worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, there has to be some confirmation with the client before you send/process their order. With these more extensive orders lines of credit are more likely than credit card payment options. Unlike in B2C, with heavier products and larger orders, the increased weight can cost too much to ship, so dropshipping from a manufacturer or freight shipping may be required. 

Working with an eCommerce agency specializing in B2B will help you create a streamlined payment and order fulfillment process that works in a B2B business model.

B2B Requires a Different Marketing Approach

Customers buying B2B products and services are different, and, as a result, you need to market your brand and products differently. Everything, from the content you create to where you place ads, is different for B2B commerce buying. When it comes to marketing your B2B products and services, it's a lead nurturing game. 

While B2B customers are looking for the conveniences of the B2C experience, none of your B2B customers will order $100,000 worth of products online based on an ad they saw. It just doesn't work this way. Big deals require a personal touch. To close the deal your salespeople may need to have multiple touchpoints. The entire process needs to be better defined and operate like a well-oiled machine.  

When you work with an eCommerce agency that understands how B2B marketing works, you're more likely to end up with a coherent marketing plan that works for your business. That's particularly true if you're working with a full-service everything that handles everything from technical implementation to overall marketing strategy and execution.

It's Not Always B2B OR B2C

On paper, it's easy to separate B2B from B2C businesses. In real life, though, things aren't always that simple. You don't have to exclusively sell products to other businesses to be considered a B2B company. Selling to other resellers, wholesale, selling to non-profit organizations that aren't "businesses"...that's all B2B. 

Some businesses even operate using both the B2B and B2C models. You might find a wholesaler who sells directly to customers as well. So, it's hard to see a line in the sand between these two different business models in some cases. 

As a result, you should work with an eCommerce agency with the necessary experience to help you define (and refine) the B2B and B2C components of your business and develop the proper unified eCommerce solution to support each business model.

TL;DR

Even the most old-school B2B businesses are trying to sell online nowadays. Whether it's B2B or B2C, all companies are jumping on the eCommerce bandwagon. And, just like with anything else, relevant experience does matter when building your B2B eCommerce website. 

When you work with an eCommerce agency with B2B eCommerce platform experience, you'll have a much smoother experience and increase the chances of finding that perfect unified solution that will support all your business needs.

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