B2B and B2C eCommerce have similarities as well as differences that you would not expect, and when building out your ecommerce site for B2B, it’s important to be aware of both. If you’re new to the B2B space, you should research the B2B market as well as what functionalities your competitors are using on their ecommerce sites to reel in buyers. You should get onto an ecommerce platform which has robust B2B capabilities to ensure that your buyers have the best user experience possible. Assuming that your competition is still operating with legacy platforms can be a huge mistake. Merchants everywhere are increasingly adopting the best and most advanced technology revamping their entire business. For example, B2B merchants like Grainger, Fisher Scientific, Pasternack, and Haas Automation have completely changed the game for their competition by leveraging technology to drive B2C- like experience in B2B ecommerce.
B2B buyers these days are expecting the same user experience as B2C, but with functionalities that support the processes they need to go through to place a B2B order. These processes are what make up the difference between B2B and B2C ecommerce. Some of these include quick order possibility, requisition lists, quotation tools, customer structure and user roles, user identification, customer service, personalized offerings and content, different payment methods, credit limits, different order processes, punch out, drop ship, back orders, internal tools, customer service, sales, and tools for resellers. Some B2B buyers also require the ability to enable or disable access to quote requests, or set purchase amount caps for certain team members.
What B2B and B2C consumers do have in common, is the desire for a clean user interface. Many B2B buyers are online shoppers in their own personal lives, and they expect no less of a clear convenient, and responsive experience than they get when they shop B2C. The days when a B2B buyer would have to call a company to get a quote for a large order are long gone, and tasks such as these often require specific functionality within an ecommerce site.
It’s more than just a website. B2B must also be mobile friendly, allowing customers to make purchases from their phones or tablets. This can be a simple,responsive design on a mobile device or as comprehensive as an app. Customers also expect to be able to access a seller’s online catalog without the hassle of logging onto their computers. Many of the needs of B2B customers are similar to those in the B2C market. However, B2B sellers have some more complex factors to consider such as complicated contracts and payment methods. This is not a sale you want to lose, as B2B merchants often stand to gain significantly more from an individual sale than many B2C merchants. Regardless of the complexity of its structure, customer experience is just as important and should be a central focus of any company.
The B2B world and the world of ecommerce are blending together at an exponential rate, and the union of the two is only expected to grow from here. The B2B market is currently double what the B2C market is, and because of this, many online merchants are finding it important to begin including B2B features and functionalities to their ecommerce website. It used to be that ecommerce websites were designed with B2C buyers in mind. The functionalities and features present were implemented to satisfy your typical consumer who was purchasing goods for themselves rather than their business. With the massive rise in B2B consumers flooding our ecommerce sites, we have no choice but to accommodate.
There are certain things to take note of when recognizing the similarities and differences between the user experience of the B2C client and the B2B client. There are obvious differences in features necessary for each type of consumer because of the way purchases are made. One important thing that B2B buyers value is the option to view wholesale pricing quotes. Where there used to be a “call for pricing information” notation on many websites, customers have now grown accustomed to instant access to information, and the thought of calling a representative to talk price is off-putting. If a request for quote function doesn’t come native on your eCommerce platform, there is always the option to implement a module which can provide you with this function. The Request for Quote Module by Web Solutions NYC lets business buyers submit quote requests and site owners modify or accept those requests. Business buyers can then purchase directly from the accepted quote with one click of a button.
When it comes to aspects of the user experience aside from those special features needed for business transactions, B2B and B2C consumers really aren’t very different. Both types of buyers want a clear and navigable path to purchase without having to search for the next step. Details and information should be clean and laid out for the potential consumer. This goes for all aspects of the ecommerce site- including the mobile view. Just like B2C consumers,B2B buyers are starting to take advantage of the capabilities and conveniences of having a mobile device, and are using that to do their B2B ordering. It’s important to pay just as close attention to the quality of the mobile experience for B2B consumers and you do for your B2C audience.