We’re seeing the B2B (business to business) world constantly changing and in many ways becoming more like the B2C (business to consumer) world. The B2B customer is now desiring much more of a B2C-like buying experience, but what are some of the main differences between B2B and B2C? 

More and more B2B platforms are offering an experience similar to that of an Amazon-like shopping experience, offering their customers easy-to-use features such as search functions and the ability to apply discount codes at checkout. However, the B2B world has far more in-depth requirements than that of the B2C world, such as the need for the ability to manage complex pricing, multi-warehouse inventory allocation, and advanced product configuration orders. All of these requirements should be available in real time, and from one single source of truth, the company’s ERP.

So, if you’re considering a digital B2B platform, it’s important to choose an eCommerce platform provider who specializes in the complexities of B2B, to help to build your platform replicated from your ERP. Many B2C eCommerce platform providers will claim that they can deliver you a B2B platform by adapting the blueprint of a B2C platform, making a few customizations, and will tell you that B2B and B2C are similar. But more often than not, this will cause problems later down the road, due to the nature of B2B.  

commercebuild specializes in building both B2B and B2C eCommerce platforms. Our eCommerce experts understand the differences between the two and recognize that the platforms require different functionalities and features. We have over 1,000,000 unique users and over 1,000,000,000 unique transactions, with a great track record of building B2B and B2C platforms. Take a look for yourself and check out some of our customer success stories.

Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between B2B and B2C:

1. Customers

B2B customers are usually more complex than B2C customers and have different needs. B2B customers need to be able to be assigned to multiple accounts and often require products to be shipped to and from different warehouses. B2C transactions usually involve the buyer purchasing from the merchant, and that’s the end of the transaction. This is a far simpler process than it would be for a B2B customer who may need to research the product, manage shipments, consider multi-ship-to and multi-bill-to combinations. Therefore, a B2B eCommerce platform needs to be able to handle the additional requirements and challenges of B2B customers.  

2. Payments

B2C payments are generally made via credit card, but B2B customers need a far greater variety of payment options. B2B buyers need to have the ability to check their invoice history and AR record, as well as being able to select from multiple integrated payment options. B2B customers often have customer-specific pricing or volume-based discounts, which a robust B2B eCommerce platform is equipped to deal with. If pricing is changed or updated due to bill-to or ship-to information that has been provided, then the customer needs to receive this information quickly and accurately. A B2B eCommerce platform must be able to handle numerous unique pricing constructs in a way that is not required for B2C, so it’s important to choose the right B2B eCommerce platform provider that can build you a platform capable of handling this. 

3. Products

B2B products tend to be far more intricate, with more product variants and customizations. Products can range anywhere from simple consumable products to highly technical and configurable products. Not all products are sold to an end-consumer. Sometimes the product that is being sold is a product that is needed to make another product or system, which means that there are often multiple sizes and dimensions to choose from. The customer needs to be able to access information about bundles, dimensions, additional accessories, specification details, warranty information, and so much more to ensure that they are fully informed about the purchase they’re wishing to make.

4. Search

A search function is essential to any B2B or B2C eCommerce site. B2B customers require a search function that allows them to search, filter, and sort search results to help them to find their desired product. The search function makes the customer buying experience far simpler and easier to use, rather than customers having to search through pages of unrelated products. Although both B2B and B2C often use a search function, more advanced search capabilities are usually required for a B2B, due to the number of search results a customer could be presented with. Due to the number of variations of some of the products of a B2B, customers could be presented with a large number of search results, so having the ability to filter if they have ordered that product before, or searching for specific sizes and dimensions, for example, could be extremely beneficial for a B2B customer. Other features such as powerful ElasticSearch, auto-complete and spelling suggestions can be really helpful when customers are searching for a specific product, as well as the use of synonyms to avoid customers from being presented with a ‘no results found’ page. 

5. Check-out

B2C checkout processes tend to be fairly straightforward- You hit the checkout button, enter your shipping address, enter your card details and you’re done! B2B check-outs tend to have far more to consider than this, with multiple-order approvals, billing and shipping complexities, and credit limits all needing to be considered at the checkout stage. B2B checkouts need to be far more sophisticated to allow for the additional requirements of a B2B eCommerce platform, whilst ensuring that the checkout process doesn’t become too challenging or overwhelming for the customer. Customer-specific pricing and discounts need to all be in order at the checkout stage to ensure the customer is being presented with correct pricing, and sometimes custom orders may need to be quoted. Customers should be able to provide as many details as possible, making it easier for a sales or customer service representative to respond quickly, via the B2B eCommerce platform so that the customer can return to the platform to retrieve the quote and simply add it to the basket if they would like. The checkout needs to allow for multiple shipping options and locations, and also offer multiple payment options, which is different from the usual B2C checkout.

Although the B2B world is becoming more B2C-like, there are still many differences between the requirements for a successful B2C eCommerce platform and a B2B platform. The complexities of a B2B eCommerce platform are far greater and there is a lot to be considered when going digital, so be sure to choose an eCommerce expert that understands the differences between B2B and B2C. With experts in both B2B and B2C, commercebuild can confidently help to deliver you an exceptional eCommerce platform when you’re ready to go digital! commercebuild (formerly known as Sage eCommerce and XM Developments) has over 15 years of experience with Sage-run organizations and has successfully created 400+ sites, so you’re in great hands for taking your Sage-run business online to create a Customer Portal or Webstore with us! 

Book a free demo today, to see how B2B experts, commercebuild can help you to move your B2B online with a fully Sage-integrated Customer Portal or Webstore.