In 16 years of working in ecommerce, I have dealt with big and small companies in multiple industries. One recurring topic is the difference between B2B and B2C selling.
In this post, I will share my involvement with both types.
When discussing site experience improvements, I always point out that B2B clients become B2C after working hours.
Should the onsite experience differ for one group or the other?
The strategy could be different, but not the overall site experience. If he orders cleaning supplies, a B2B buyer should expect a similar process as purchasing for his home.
The common essentials are:
- Easy-to-navigate website,
- Fair pricing,
- Clear content,
- Excellent customer service.
There’s little difference, in other words, from the perspective of a human shopper. Does the site make sense? Is the company trustworthy? Are prices competitive?
I know of ecommerce companies that incorrectly assume B2B clients push order forms through a system and thus require only a bare-bones experience. The companies provide little online customer service and expect buyers to phone-in questions.
The problem, however, is the buyers are used to B2C shopping with extensive onsite help — live chat, FAQs, how-to videos. They don’t typically want to speak on the phone.
Years ago, I worked for an ecommerce company with B2B clients in the casino and hotel industries. During the 2008 recession, these large purchasing departments laid off many employees. The remaining buyers required quick and easy online ordering. That was novel then, but it’s commonplace now.
While an easy site experience is more or less the same for both customer types, the acquisition and selling strategies are not.
I’ve acquired B2B customers via chambers of commerce, membership clubs, and, yes, direct in-person meetings. Trade shows and niche events are typically good acquisition channels, too. And I’ve sold goods to distributors that resell to consumers.
Each channel often requires special pricing, such as immediate discounts, group buys, and backend rebates. And the channel may require a sales rep depending on the volume and growth potential.
Pricing for consumers is much simpler.