The lines between B2B and B2C commerce are blurring.
You’re ready to explore new channels and grow your business. That might mean adding a wholesale business to your B2C company—or maybe you’re a B2B business ready to sell direct to consumers. Either way, you need a new set of eCommerce functionality.
If you’re already running an eCommerce platform designed for only B2B or B2C, you’ll have some tough choices to make. Your options are making extensive customizations to your existing platform or migrating to a new “hybrid” platform that combines full B2B and B2C feature sets. (If you don’t have a digital business, you’re in luck. You can choose a hybrid platform at the beginning of your eCommerce journey.)
Selecting the right hybrid platform for your business can feel like a lot of work, because you’ll be evaluating two sets of features. But it’s worthwhile in the long run. You can reduce costs, improve efficiency, simplify product management, and more.
B2B and B2C are two different flavors of eCommerce, each with different requirements. Your hybrid platform should be strong in both areas. It should have features designed for both types of selling while also providing a unified product
catalog and back end. Because B2B is more complex, you’ll want to take a close look at B2B features. If a platform doesn’t have a lot of the features on the checklist, it will probably need many customizations to support B2B.
A solid hybrid eCommerce platform should have most of these B2B features.
Customer-specific catalogs and pricing: You should be able to customize catalogs and pricing for different customers.
Easy reordering: You should be able to let customers reorder based on previous orders, and send reminders via text or email.
Flexible payment and checkout: You should be able to offer fast and flexible payment and checkout options, including multiple payment gateways and mobile-optimized checkout.
Flexible shipping: You should be able to offer shipping through many carriers and automate your fulfillment processes.
Quote support: You should be able to automate price quote requests and negotiations with buyers.
Company account management: You should be able to give your B2B customers an account management dashboard where they can see everything—including active quotes and orders, order history, credit status, and more—in one place.
As you begin to consider how to improve your B2B eCommerce capabilities, the one thing to keep in mind is that nearly all the best features of B2C eCommerce have applications in the B2B world.
By carefully identifying and integrating the targeted B2C features your customers already know, you can dramatically enhance customer experiences and achieve bottom line gains. Here are five B2C eCommerce functions that perfectly align with the B2B procurement process.
B2B is Going Mobile
B2B eCommerce is riding the wave of mobile eCommerce. It makes sense that buyers who already make personal purchases on mobile would reach for their smartphones and tablets for business purchases. According to the previously cited reports from Forrester, 52 percent of B2B buyers research products using their smartphones.
According to a survey by Internet Retailer, buyers are purchasing online because it is more convenient (38 percent) and faster (22 percent), while 61 percent of B2B buyers use mobile devices to research work purchases.
The mobile channel provides critical and seamless touch-points during the procurement process, from initial information gathering, to purchasing and beyond. As companies focus on improving customer experience as a major differentiator, effective mobile commerce will be a major point of emphasis. The advantages of mobile commerce are clear: Companies need to be where their customers search, and B2B buyers in 2017 will increasingly search for products on smartphones and tablets.
Give Your B2B Customers What They Want:
A Personalized Experience.
Whether your buyer is B2C or B2B, they demand online shopping experiences that are simple, scalable, and personalized to their needs. If your business is not providing that, it’s time to get started.