B2B webstores are more and more often fitted with the same functionalities as B2C stores when it comes to the ordering process and catalog display. However, there are still some clear differences between B2B and B2C webstores.
This blog provides an overview of the 10 main differences between B2B and B2C that I have experienced.
1) Shielded prices and prices excluding VAT
Whereas a B2C store is accessible to the general public, a B2B webstore is often exclusive for B2B customers, or product prices are only visible after login. Also, B2C prices usually include VAT, while B2B stores often exclude VAT.
2) One-time versus recurring orders
A B2B environment is generally more focused on recurring orders than on one-time orders. B2B customers often have more predictable order patterns than B2C customers. It is therefore important that customers are able to easily buy the same products again.
3) Large orders on B2B stores
B2B customers generally order more products at once than B2C customers do, resulting in higher order amounts.
4) Using quantity discounts
Because of these larger order amounts, B2B stores often offer quantity discounts.
5) More complex pricing strategies
Pricing settings are often simpler in B2C stores than in B2B stores. B2B customers make extensive use of customer specific pricing and more complex pricing strategies. These pricing strategies are often derived from the ERP system.
6) Orders by fax or phone
B2C stores often do not accept phone or fax orders, but B2B stores do, which means orders are processed through different channels: online orders are entered in the webstore, whereas phone or fax orders are usually created directly in the ERP system.
7) Connecting the B2B webstore to the ERP system
Integrations between ERP systems and webstores (and the use of an ERP system in general) can be found more often in B2B than in B2C environments. The ERP system is the central system that handles customer data and order processing; orders and pricing agreements should therefore be synchronised between the two systems. In addition, as described in point 6, B2B orders are often processed through various channels. Because of this, it is important that the inventory between the two systems is synched as well.
8) Product complexity
B2C products often have a limited complexity, so that they can always be sold online. Some B2B products, however, are so complex that customers should first request a quote before they can purchase a specific product.
9) Shipping complexity
Because of the usually higher amount of products ordered on a B2B webstore, the shipping weights are often larger too. This regularly leads to a complex calculation of the shipping costs. Sometimes, it is not even possible to calculate these costs automatically and the carrier needs to make a quote first, making the B2B order amount not yet final.
10) Direct payments versus invoices/credit
Most B2C customers will need to pay for their order on checkout. On B2B stores however, customers can often be charged by invoice or credit.
These are important elements to take into account when setting up a B2B webstore. Of course, these are not comprehensive of everything that you encounter on B2B environments. Do you have your own experiences with other significant differences between B2C and B2B webstores? I am looking forward to your response!