Why You Need a B2C-Style B2B eCommerce Store
The generation that grew up with the internet now wields more purchasing power in the business world than ever before. While B2B and B2C channels are both unique, the line between them is becoming increasingly blurred. Today, many millennial leaders look for B2B shopping experiences that parallel Amazon’s B2C journey, complete with single-click reorder and smart search capabilities.
According to Digital Commerce 360’s 2019 B2B Mystery Shopping Survey, B2B buyers are looking for features that save them time and help them checkout faster. These include powerful onsite search (59%), rich product details (53%), and advanced shopping cart capabilities (31%).
By mirroring B2C techniques in your B2B eCommerce channels, you can satisfy more of buyer desires and capture extra revenue. In this article, we’ll talk about the advantages of using a B2C-style B2B eCommerce store and cover different solutions you can use to get there.
B2B vs. B2C eCommerce: What's the Difference?
In a sense, there is no difference between B2B and B2C eCommerce. Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, you are still selling products to another human through the web. That human may wear the hat of purchasing manager or dad, but underneath the hat, they want to have a great shopping experience—whether they are buying a new game console for the kids or a new product line for their store.
That said, the B2B buying journey can be a bit more complex than its B2C counterpart. For example, your customers might need to send products to many different locations from one order. Or the person shopping may need to pass the cart off to someone else for approval and payment.
Also, B2B buyers may need more specific attributes than the average B2C customer. They may be placing much larger orders, and expect volume pricing or discounts, detailed shipping information, and other B2B-friendly options.
While the details of B2B and B2C eCommerce might be different, the basic themes of user experience, personalization, and seamless multichannel journey are the same.
Why the B2C experience is necessary
Aside from the internet itself, almost nothing has impacted consumer shopping expectations as much as Amazon. The platform has directed the path of B2C eCommerce for a generation. Today, a good portion of B2B decision-makers are digitally savvy millennials, and that means they are looking for a familiar experience that will let them get what they need when they need it.
Whether shopping on or off Amazon, many people are used to features like always-on shopping carts, multiple pre-calculated shipping options, and personalized shopping preferences. Old or outdated B2B experiences don’t impress customers. If a competitor comes along and offers a similar product (or even the same product) with a better experience, a customer may ditch their old supplier for the new one.
Elements of a B2C-Like Shopping Experience
Optimizing your B2B journey with a customer-centric approach can reduce points of friction and increase sales. From the research phase to the checkout process, there are many techniques to use, including rich product content, smart search, and personalization.
- Smart search: A smart search function can allow users to quickly access your catalog and filter results by different attributes. It can also provide product suggestions as they type to help them save time.
- Quality content: Product descriptions should go beyond simple lists of features to include romance copy and a variety of keywords that would help users find the product in search.
- Visual experience: A single image doesn’t cut it. Today, users want to see multiple images, videos, and even images of the product packaging to know what they can expect.
- Frictionless shopping: Reduce as many barriers as you can and make the shopping process intuitive and easy. For example, allow customers to use a variety of payment options and to reorder with one click.
- Personalization: Use customer segmentation to show shoppers recommended products, customer-type pricing, personalized payment and shipping information, and more.
- Self-service functionality: Today’s buyers want to do as much as they can on their own. This includes solving their own problems with self-service help centers and choosing product configurations without talking to a salesperson.
- Mobile-friendly design: While many manufacturers and wholesalers see more conversions on desktop, more and more decision makers are conducting research on mobile. Some even complete their purchases on mobile devices while “on the go,” so it’s imperative that your site is properly sized and laid out for a great mobile experience.
- Real-time inventory availability: If customers can purchase online, they should be able to browse your inventory in real time. When out of stock items are clearly grayed out or labeled as such, you’ll avoid disappointing a customer after they try to make a purchase.
- Multiple shipping options: B2B shoppers need access to a variety of shipping times and carriers to accomplish their objectives. They may need to ship to multiple recipients, as well.
Benefits of unifying your B2C and B2B eCommerce sites
If you sell both B2B and B2C, it may seem easier to keep things separate and just add the backend systems you need to improve your B2B experience. However, adding systems a-la-carte is a recipe for miscommunication, inventory mishaps, and disappointed customers.
Instead, unify your B2B and B2C channels under one eCommerce platform. After all, the best way to provide a seamless shopping experience is to match your B2C and B2B stores. Once everything is set up, you can manage two channels from one unified Order Management System. You can roll out product updates or new shopping tools in half the time compared to using two different platforms.
Running on one platform also makes eCommerce inventory management a whole lot easier. You can have a clearer view into your product flow and better control over keeping items in stock for both types of customers.
Give Your B2B Store Some B2C Flavor
To win over the modern B2B decision maker, you need to provide a modern shopping experience. With the right platform, you can use techniques like personalization and self-service to create an effortless buying journey.
TrueCommerce Nexternal was born to support multiple channels in an intuitive environment, where B2B tools like segmentation and flexible ordering live in a B2C-style experience. Contact us today to learn how you can attract and impress more B2B customers with a B2C shopping experience.
About the Author: Craig Ross is the VP of Sales for the TrueCommerce Nexternal eCommerce Platform. He has been on the Nexternal team for over 20 years and has been involved with the evolution of eCommerce from its infancy. Craig lives in Redding, Connecticut, and in addition to eCommerce, he is passionate about cycling, motorsports, skiing, and music.