B2B and B2C e-commerce: meaning and main differences
The term Business-to-Business (or B2B) refers to the direct sale of products or services between companies or companies through online platforms, while Business to Consumer (or B2C) refers to a business model in which companies sell directly to end consumers on the internet.This is not the only difference between B2B and B2C e-commerce, but starting from the definition of the two models it is possible to understand that each of them presents different opportunities and advantages for your business.
One of the main factors that has favored the growth of the B2B segment in recent years is technological innovation: automation and the advent of digital commerce, in particular, have contributed to optimizing the efficiency of corporate strategies and reducing expenses, enabling organizations to reach large audiences faster and improve interaction with suppliers and partners. On the other hand, although product quality plays a central role in B2C e-commerce, consumers seem to be increasingly influenced by other aspects, particularly shipping costs and speed of delivery.Both models can offer interesting opportunities and different marketing approaches. Let us see in detail the main differences between B2B and B2C e-commerce to take into account when developing a business strategy.Customers.
The main difference between B2B and B2C concerns the target customers. If the former is aimed at businesses, the latter serves private individuals: the target is an element capable of influencing the volume of sales, too. In the case of companies, this will be decidedly higher, involving more complex product searches and attention to wholesale. This corresponds to highly articulated marketing strategies, which must include, on the one hand, detailed and in-depth information aimed at establishing a relationship between the company and the customer. On the other hand, in the case of sales to private individuals, there is a tendency to resort to creative and personalized contents in able to capture the attention and respond to the needs of individuals. Accurate content development becomes essential to improve the visibility of your offer on search engines: captivating texts, detailed product sheets and effective calls to action are elements capable of facilitating conversions and improving the reputation of your company online.
Sales processes and products. The sales processes of B2B follow stricter standards and stricter supervision procedures, therefore it is necessary that the services and products maintain a high level of quality. Since these are mostly large-scale purchases, which require the involvement of various players in the sales process (suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers, but also employees of the IT, marketing and human resources departments), much higher times and investments are required, in particular for the use of elaborate support teams, ranging from the community forum to the FAQ page, product demos and videos. The commercial transactions of B2C e-commerce are instead characterized by purchasing processes of less complexity, which often conclude in a single phase and therefore require a less structured customer assistance team: in this case, the questions page frequent calls and a chatbot service can be sufficient tools to manage return requests or any inconveniences. If it is true that improving customer service and offering efficient customer assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helps to build customer loyalty, it is also important to offer the customer the opportunity to proceed independently: according to a report by Mc Kinsey, 76% of B2B shoppers find it helpful to interact with someone while researching a product or service, but only 15% are likely to do so while making a second purchase. Providing recurring subscriptions or one-click reordering can be a useful strategy for improving customer satisfaction. Another essential element is flexibility: a periodic check-up of the procedures and verification of the effectiveness of the processes in place in order to improve any weak points is a step that can prove to be decisive in building customer loyalty.
Prices and payment experience. A higher volume of goods leads to lower prices: in sales to companies a minimum order amount is usually set so as to be able to enjoy a reduced price, unlike sales to private individuals, where the purchase of individual products or services is relatively common.
This also corresponds to a different payment method: orders in the B2C are generally made by credit card, while in the B2B market, where payment times often tend to be longer, it is essential to provide the user with additional options, such as bank transfers and invoices that integrate wholesale options.
For the same item, the customer will always be inclined to rely on those who are able to offer safe shipping, even at a slightly higher price: for this reason, providing clear information on the payment methods and returns policy and offering maximum transparency on pre- and post-sales procedures can be crucial for the success of a sale
Delivery. Another substantial difference between B2B and B2C e-commerce is the delivery options: while individuals expect to receive orders directly at home, companies prefer to collect the products by their own means or choose to have them delivered to their commercial address. Thanks to the most recent technological innovations, it is possible to take advantage of intelligent delivery systems and offer added value to your customers, with a positive impact on company growth: relying on companies specialized in logistics services allows you to optimize processes and operations in the best possible way more complex aspects of the supply chain, so as to be able to offer types of shipments and levels of services tailored to the needs of customers.
Knowing your market niche, purchasing habits and consumer needs is certainly the first step in influencing purchasing decisions and improving communication with your customers.
Regardless of whether you operate in B2B or B2C, the goal is to offer the best possible service to the customer, taking advantage of every contact opportunity to highlight your brand and show an element of differentiation that makes the brand unique and recognizable. Customer expectations are growing day by day and this requires organizations to be able to seize every opportunity to grow and evolve to ensure a high level of satisfaction.
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