B2B vs B2C. What are the differences between a Business to Business (B2B) and a Business to Consumer (B2C) platform?
We understand right from the beginning that an online B2B website or store refers to a company’s website or shop that has legal entities as clients and may or may not accept to work with individuals – unlike a B2C website or store that typically represents a company that has individuals as clients.
Although there are many similarities between a B2B website and a B2C store, there are also differences that we need to consider.
These differences also relate to the different audiences between the two. Therefore, we must take into consideration that each audience has a different behavior, different needs and expectations from our website or store.
B2B vs B2C – What distinguishes a B2B website from an B2C?
Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between the two types of platforms and why does it matter.
From the start you have to be clear about the desired functionality that you want to be implemented on a B2B website. The functionalities can be from generalist to very specific and detailed depending on the niche in which the company operates.
For example, a company may want to demand for a certificate of operation or other documents as a registration condition on the online store. Other companies may want functions like required first order of a minimum amount in order to get an account as a client or the possibility to activate the re-sellers accounts manually.
Organization and navigation
An online B2B store often has a layout designed to facilitate the quickest placement of an order. Also, more detailed categories may be present on the store. A legal person or a re-seller wants to be more informed about the products.
There are also many configurations that often allow B2B shop customers to reach their desired products faster. For example, a B2B auto parts store can even integrated a function that will help costumers to search for parts after a specific engine code. This way the client saves time while the store is offering a great user experience.
Often, in B2B, it is used search by SKU (stock keeping unit) or product code. This is vital for B2B shop where many customers usually are looking for a particular product for their own shop or clients.
On a B2C store there are more general searches because just in a normal store, some may just be browsing.
Also, a B2B store must provide many details and specifications about products or services.
A B2C store leaves out some details or the details that are not so necessary as there are when we talk to a specialist customer (a company or a re-seller). A re-seller will want to find out all there is to know about the products.
A website must be mobile friendly. It has to work in the correct parameters on all devices. Whether we are talking about a B2B or B2C platform this feature is a must not just a plus.
It is worth mentioning that, due to certain specific features, the layout design for a B2B store can bring extra challenges for web designers.
If you are a manufacturer you might be tempted to think that your collaborators will place the order from your B2B shop anyway. If this is the case you couldn’t be more wrong because the time of a re-seller is like yours, limited.
If the loading time of a B2C store can directly affect sales, be sure that this also applies to B2B.
Keeping a short loading time as possible is vital to your profit and your client satisfaction.
It would not be profitable in terms of time for anyone involved in the B2B transaction to waste time because your store is running too slow.
The design of a B2B website must inspire professionalism and confidence. If you want to attract many re-sellers and to convert them in long-term partners, then you must understand how important is your company image and why you should constantly improve the user experience on your online store.
On a B2C platform design sells, but for a B2B platform the designed layout can have a much bigger impact. You should provide the best quality for all available features. From intuitive layout design to high quality banners (design / quality / arrangement) and qualitative product pictures. They all play a very important role in fulfilling the needs of your clients.
Your re-sellers will usually use the displayed commercials from your platform on their websites.
The same way goes for product pictures. Wouldn’t you like to help them sell faster (and then re-stock from you) by providing your partners with great product shots? And please avoid using watermarks.
Depending on the niche, we might say that banners or sliders in a B2B store are sometimes more important than a B2C. Change them regularly and announce your clients about new offers. Also, do not neglect the typography and how you arrange the text within the platform so that will be always legibly and organized to ease and facilitate the search for information.
User experience, when it sucks, can have some time consuming side effects. An example: a partner of yours just can’t figure out how to order so he calls you for 10 minutes to place an order. That’s 10 minutes lost from your and his time.
Why all of these?
Re-sellers / legal entities are more careful – they are always looking for offers to make their businesses more profitable.
Your loyal customers usually browse directly on your portal and they don’t come on your website through a search engine.
Keep your banners updated with your newest offers so that your clients could see them at the first sight on your website. We’ve noticed that on most B2B stores, clients really do pay attention to all the slides/banners and search for deals.
As you recall the target audiences of a B2B company and a B2C company are fundamentally differently.
The target audience of a B2B business website, regardless of your company domain, is niched in an industry and influenced by motivation. Potential partners are looking to be motivated by some benefits from a B2B partnership.
Content is also a decisive factor in a B2B website – whether we are referring to an online store or a site that provides certain services.
It is important to present the products or services as detailed as possible in a professional and transparent manner. Even if you may think it’s a waste of time, you have to come up with unique selling proposition for your services or products. This will help your clients to understand why you are the right choice and how you differentiate yourself from competition.
You need correct descriptions of your products or services expressed in technical or specialized terms depending on your niche. This way you can offer to your target audience exactly the needed information. Also, you’re showing them your own expertise in that field – a blog helps at this greatly.
You need to think from their point of view in order to identify their specific needs. Especially when you set certain prices, offers or types of partnerships.
As with a B2C company, branding plays a very important role. Having a professional image that inspires trust and security and an image that your partners can rely on it’s a must. By maintaining a coherent and trust-worthy image you’ll be able to attract more clients and consolidate long term partnerships.
Although a B2B conversion is based more on logic, there are some key elements within a partnership that appeals to emotions. Just in a different manner than in a B2C conversion.
A well-defined brand can provide the needed confidence to start a partnership. But how the company respects brand values will form emotional bond between partners over time. For example: when we have a B2B store with stock reservation up to 30 days feature and as client we have a small, yet growing business that handles a store. With this feature our client can reserve the products that he knows he can sell without worrying about the stock and when the moment comes and he has the money to make the transaction the products will be there waiting for him.
Constantly respecting these terms will create long term partnerships.
Facilities such as the one in the example above can create a strong connection in the business environment that sometimes for auxiliary services partners would not be willing to change their supplier (your company) even in the case of very good promises from your competition.
Other examples that can strengthen the brand and appeal to the emotional side of the partnership: professional and helpful customer service, transparency between parts at different stages of collaboration, and so on.
Usually, a B2C website has as a primary goal the immediate conversion. In the case of a B2B website, we usually focus on a long-term contractual relationship with our clients.
Just from this way of looking at conversions, all the content of the site, the ads and all the ways you choose to promote yourself are significantly different from those of a B2C website or store.
In most cases, until you sign a B2B contract, your customers will check your offer and the provided services by two or three times. They will even ask you more details.
B2B transactions, especially when we talk about the first contact, differ from B2C transactions because of the implications they have.
Just because of such ‘issues’ in the B2B environment, a lot of transparency (such as providing a free demo account) often helps in increasing conversions. Obviously, if you offer solutions / services or competitive and viable products.
A market study and a careful analysis of the competition and your potential customers can help you a lot in preparing a viable sales strategy for your B2B business.
In addition, you can use blogging, case studies, email marketing (take in consideration the new GDPR rules), downloadable pdfs and advertisements to persuade potential partners to consider you as a credible and serious supplier which can help them achieve their goals.
You need a B2B store if your business sells to other businesses. There are too many differences when talking about B2B vs B2C to be discussed in just one article.
Besides this, every business is unique and needs solutions designed for itself and its clients, solutions that meet three important elements when we’re discussing about a B2B business: stability, scalability and performance.
Practically, you need solutions that give you the necessary stability and functionality, can grow with your company and deliver the required performance. (no matter if we talk about sales, user experience or loading times and high performance)
If you need an agency that can help you with the development of a B2B website, B2B store (Magento 2 can fulfill this role this very well) or even the brand concept from scratch for your company, do not hesitate to take a look at our portfolio and contact us to discuss ideas together and find out what your B2B business needs.
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