B2B vs B2C ecommerce – what’s the difference?

Read on to find out what is the difference, B2B vs B2C and how you should alter your marketing for each type of model.

Whilst on the surface there may appear to be a number of parallels between B2B and B2C ecommerce, there is in fact many ways they very different from each other.

From marketing and sales techniques to pricing models and payments, both B2B and B2C ecommerce come with their own set audiences that will require different messaging, approaches, and tools to satisfy each side.  

In this post we will be discussing B2B vs B2C commerce and their differences.

B2B vs B2C – who are you really selling to?

When it comes to the two different commerce fields, the target audience of who you are selling to is vastly different.

In B2C you are often communicating with one decision maker. This means your messaging can be more personal and direct and selling is often easier and quicker.

With B2C you often see spontaneous, impulsive buyers so you want to feed on this desire through your marketing. Selling to one person makes it easier to create personalised content and encourage them to purchase from you.

On the other hand, B2B purchases often have multiple decision makers who will thoroughly research the product and make an informed decision as a team once they are all happy.

This is more complex as it means your messaging needs to be more detailed and you need to work harder to show them why they need to buy from you.

These buyers will take their time, so you want the messaging to be more practical and informative than emotive. However, you should still use personalisation in your marketing to attract them to the site and products.

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    B2B vs B2C – What are customer expectations?

    Consumers within B2C models often thrive on instant gratification, they will often be enticed by free or next day delivery.

    It’s all about the speed of the delivery. As their purchases are often spontaneous and random there is no expectation of building a long-term relationship with the consumer.

    However, if your brand stands out as being trustworthy, good quality and cost effective, you can attract brand loyalty.

    With customers in B2B models, it couldn’t be more different. Although they appreciate speed, they will order products based on their requirements, so they prefer punctuality over speed. They expect an order to arrive when you tell them it will.

    With regards to relationships with the consumer, you are more likely to want to build and retain strong connections. As B2B consumers often consider their options more carefully they not only want a high-quality product which meets their requirements.

    They also want to consider future buying and the ability of repeat purchases. Most products need to be replaced further along the timeline so they may well be looking at longevity, whether they can purchase these items again in a month, 6 months, a year or even a few years.

    Building up strong relationships with B2B consumers is vital as this will provide you with more regular income and you may see an increase in custom through recommendations to other companies.

    B2B vs B2C – Prices & payment methods

    When it comes to prices of items or services, B2C consumers will purchase their items at a fixed cost which applies to everyone. There may be the odd discount code you provide but in general the prices are set for all.

    However, with B2B, prices are much more likely to fluctuate. Consumers in this sector expect different prices based on size of company, region, volume of order and many other factors.

    They may even have a company specific discount on certain products, and they need to be able to view this discount whilst ordering.

    When it comes to payment methods these also differ greatly.

    B2C consumers will expect to pay for their item before it is shipped or at the point of shipping.

    However, B2B consumers often pay within a certain timescale due to invoicing and the requirement for finance teams to sign off the payment. For many B2B ecommerce platforms, credit accounts are often provided to help build trust and encourage repeat ordering.

    Do I need to consider different ecommerce platform when it comes to B2C vs B2B?

    When it comes to B2B consumers you are likely to want a more customisable, flexible ecommerce platform as the requirements are more complex.

    You may need the ability to display different stock lists as well as the ability to implement more in-depth reporting, invoicing, repeat ordering etc.

    With B2C ecommerce platforms you can often get away with using a less complex system as your consumers will all see the same view and the payment methods and ordering is simpler. A good ecommerce platform may be able to suffice for both types of consumers.

    However, for those extra plug ins and extensions which can make a good B2B ecommerce platform great you may want to go for a company who specialise in B2B.

     If you need further advice, we wrote a great post on the best B2B ecommerce platforms available. 

    Are there any similarities in B2B vs B2C?

    Although a lot of the customer journey for B2C and B2B consumers are vastly different, there are still some similarities and expectations:

    • Both consumers want a simple, intuitive user experience
    • They both expect great customer service and clear messaging
    • At the end of the day, both types of consumers are living, breathing human beings with wants, needs, desires and feelings

    With over 12 years of experience in B2B and B2C commerce we are perfectly placed to help build and grow your business.

    Whichever type of consumer you are selling to we have the knowledge and team ready to help develop your ideas.

    Contact us today to find out how we can help improve your marketing and platform to increase sales and brand.