Here’s a question we’re asked frequently: We have a B2C site that our business customers use to buy from us. Is a B2B site really necessary?
Actually, a B2C and B2B user may both be customers of yours, but their similarity stops there! The way each user type behaves, their goals for coming to your site, and their expectations for a brand experience are as different as night and day.
In the B2C world, visitors come to a site to explore, discover new products, or research items for a future purchase. The visitor may turn into a terrific customer with a sky-high lifetime value, but it may take several visits and many days or weeks to get that first conversion — and that’s okay.
An important goal for all B2C sites is to begin building a relationship with a visitor from the moment he or she first arrives. The more time visitors spend on your site, the greater the chance they’ll become your customer. The more frequently they return, even if they just browse, the more loyal they’re likely to become.
B2B site users, on the other hand, are typically existing customers. In fact, users begin using a B2B eCommerce site only after they’ve negotiated a deal and signed a contract. These users expect to see content that is highly personalized to them: custom catalogs, custom pricing, preferred method of billing, and so on. Unlike B2C customers, the B2B users’ goals are to sign on, place their orders, and sign off as quickly as possible.
Key Features of a B2B Sites
The unique nature of a B2B customer relationship demands very specific features, including:
B2B users expect to see the orders they place reflect the custom pricing and volume discounts they’ve negotiated with your company. All orders must accurately reflect that differentiated pricing, or you can expect a phone call to your sales team!
B2C vs. B2B Sites At-A-Glance
Open to any user worldwide
- Access provided after customer signs contract
- Frequent buyers who place high-value orders
- Promote product discovery and purchase
- Establish a customer relationship
- Promote brand loyalty
- Newsletter/loyalty program sign ups
- Automate existing business relationship
- Promote self-service
- Streamline order process to encourage repeat business
One set of content for users to sort based on interest
Product catalog and pricing customized to each customer
Help visitors sort products by a handful of attributes: gender, lifestyle, color, brand
With large product catalogs, help users filter by dozens of attributes
- Time on site
- Time on page
- Page views per session
- Repeat visits
- Number of sign-ons
Password based, so no permission required
B2C and B2B Crossover
This isn’t to say that there aren’t situations where a business may need both a B2C and a B2B site. Any company that sells both to individual consumers and to businesses can certainly benefit from adding B2B functionality to their B2C site.
B2C-like search functionality is also helpful for a B2B site, especially if you have an exceptionally large product catalog. Professional buyers typically buy from many suppliers, which means they may be purchasing products you sell from a competitor. You can win more of their business — and simplify their lives — by enabling them to discover products in your catalog and consolidate their buying.
This year, industry experts have encouraged all businesses to establish direct-to-channel (DTC) capabilities so that they can sell directly to consumers without going through a middleman. This trend is a direct result of the pandemic and the way it has accelerated the retail apocalypse. With major retailers shuttering their doors, a DTC channel is now a requirement.
How BundleB2B Can Help
If you have a B2C site that your B2B clients use, it’s probably a good idea to expand your site capabilities to include those described above. Don’t worry, this is easier and more affordable than you think.
BundleB2B — a robust and flexible platform that offers a full suite of B2B features — easily integrates with your BigCommerce eCommerce site. It offers almost all of the features described in this post out-of-the-box, including corporate account management, customized pricing, shared shopping lists, and so on.
It also offers important white glove services, such as sales masquerading, which allows your sales team to log in on behalf of one of their customers, access their shopping lists, add products to the cart, and complete placement of the order.
BundleB2B is SaaS based, which means it offers a lower upfront cost, and is efficient to maintain.