The Difference Between B2B Buyers and B2C Shoppers

April 16, 2015

Category: Making the Case

Not all purchasing experiences are created equally. In fact, there’s a pretty big difference between what we’re calling the “B2B buyer” and the “B2C shopper”. And because of this difference, the separate features and functionalities necessary to create a strong B2B ordering experience are quite difference than those needed for a B2C experience. Let’s take a look at why this difference is so important.

The B2C Shoppers’ Experience:

As a customer interested in purchasing different goods and services everyday, I’m familiar with and expect a specific experience each time I shop.

When I walk into a store, I am often greeted by an employee at the door that says “hello”, offers a smile, and asks me if I know how to find what I am looking for.

The store is setup in a way that showcases items as I walk down the aisle, as well as having dedicated spots for clearance items I didn’t know I needed. Ultimately I find the item I came for, and proceed to checkout with a basketful of items above and beyond my original purpose.  At checkout, the employee always informs me that I can receive a discount on my items if I sign up for their credit card or awards program.  That way I can pay them more over time for both my credit interest and a desire to achieve my next loyalty bonus.

This is retail, this is shopping. This is increasing the cost per order between the business, and me, their consumer.

This is B2C, and is readily replicated, and even enhanced in eCommerce experiences.

The online experience has been personalized for me.  I would say that I have a better relationship with because at the very least, they know my name and do not ask me for my payment credentials every time I visit.

The B2B Buyers’ Experience:

When I am at work, I do not shop. If there are things I need to get the job done, I buy or order them.

During the course of any given day, I may need a supply that I ran out of or maintenance on the equipment I use.  I also may be required to approve co-worker’s expenses, and find some documents for a proposal I am working on.  Oh, and my company also has compliance rules for purchasing, brand usage, orientation, etc., but I am not always sure what they are or if they have changed.The more time I spend on these type of tasks, the less benefit my business achieves from my job function.

The vendors I work with already know who I am, they give me ideas, preferred pricing, and assigned account managers.  They make me aware of their services and create value propositions for me on why I would want to consume them.  Simply put, they do not treat me as a shopper.

Automating these tasks are functions of B2B and should not be treated the same way as B2C eCommerce.

What’s the Solution?

When implementing a B2B order management platform for your employees, make sure your online offering is able to match their work-related buying behavior, not their in-store shopping behavior. Consider making sure it’s able to run 24×7, works on a mobile device for on-the-go or field employees, and is as broad or as narrow as required to suit the individuals you are servicing. Become a solution provider by creating the simplest way to order your cog at an individualized level.  Look for opportunities to deliver new products or product types that can be customized by your customer.

With the right B2B eCommerce technology that easily adapts to completely custom situations, your sales reps and customer service reps will be automated for the purposes of taking, delivering and reporting on orders, freeing them up to concentrate on new ways to bring your business customers value through additional solutions, automation and ease of access.