Both in the online world and in the real world, transactions between business to business (B2B) customers are different from relationships with individual customers (B2C – business to consumer). In both cases there are different needs for automation of both sales types. Creating platforms to handle these transactions therefore requires the implementation of different solutions.
Different objectives in B2C and B2B
The discrepancies between B2C and B2B platforms can be seen already in the first stages of determining the expectations that the future investment is to meet. Investors opening a B2C store are guided by maximizing profits from sales or creating a brand. However, when implementing a B2B platform, the main objectives are to gain new markets, speed up the execution of orders and relieve traders who would not have to manually enter orders into the system or provide product information.
Online store graphic
The differences in the appearance of online stores and B2B platforms can also be seen at a glance. In B2C, the extensive and attractive graphics are supposed to convince those users who focus only on watching the products. The content available to customers is carefully selected – only the most necessary information is displayed in order not to burden the user with excessive data. Solutions providing user experience (UX- user experience,) are constructed in a clear and intuitive way. They are designed to improve conversion, i.e. to convert traffic to paid shopping carts. Visual values are definitely not a priority when creating B2B platforms. Here, the appearance of the store does not have unnecessary and distracting graphics, leaving room for all the necessary information related to business transactions, i.e. delivery dates or discount rules. The user panel plays an informative role here and speeds up the purchasing process, because the recipient does not have to contact the merchant in order to clarify the conditions of interest.
Customer service in B2C and B2B
Another difference concerns customer service on the discussed platforms. There are many users in B2C stores. They can create accounts or make purchases not logged in, and the cost of acquiring a new recipient is relatively low. The situation is different with B2B platforms, where the number of users is limited, usually from several to several hundred. They cannot make a transaction without prior verification, after which they receive a login and password to their account. Obtaining such a client is time and cost consuming. However, the automation of sales allows to reduce over time the expenses for servicing regular customers, thus compensating the cost of gaining new ones.
Discounts for clients in B2C and B2B
Other methods are also used when introducing loyalty programs or discounts. In B2C stores, these programs are aimed at creating permanent relationships with individual customers who make quick and emotional purchasing decisions. The loyalty program is designed to arouse the trust of new customers and to distinguish regular recipients from among other consumers. It is therefore an incentive for customers to stay with the company for longer and make more frequent purchases. Meanwhile, in B2B platforms, it is the company’s management or other narrow circle of decision-makers that decide about the purchase of products. Therefore, the discount offer and loyalty system must be adjust to specific companies and their needs. This often manifests itself in giving customers personalized discounts, no matter how much turnover they generate. A given user may be subject to several types of discounts, which may add up. The rules of granting them are set individually. In addition, the customer has an overview of which discounts have been accrued in a given transaction in his shopping cart.
Differences in orders between B2C and B2B
The biggest discrepancies between B2C and B2B systems can be seen during the analysis of the purchasing process. At first glance you can see that sales in a B2C store usually involve single orders at the same gross prices for all users and on universal terms. The average value of such purchases is small and usually includes several products. The transactions on B2B platforms look different. Orders are repetitive and based on previously negotiated conditions. Customers are assigned individual price lists and product offers. It is possible to modify such an order even after it is placed. The value of shopping carts can reach high sums per entity. Prices in B2B (given in net amount) are available only for logged in and verified users.
Payment in B2C and B2B
Different payment system is the last discussed difference between B2C and B2B. Completing a transaction in a traditional online store is done by paying for selected products by bank transfer, payment card or payment gateway such as PayPal or PayU. This takes place directly after placing an order and the customer receives information about the shipment of the package. Payments in B2B require the use of more advanced methods, as payment terms are set individually with each recipient. The platform should therefore give the possibility of using solutions such as deferred payment terms or trade credit. It is also possible to introduce order limits for customers and automatic reminders about unpaid invoices and even block orders for customers who are late with payments.
These are only the basic and most visible differences between B2C and B2B stores. However, they allow to highlight different needs, which should be taken care of when moving your business to the Internet. The most important conclusion from the above analysis is that platforms serving business customers require advanced solutions. Therefore, it is worth to entrust the creation of this type of platform to experienced professionals.