With more millennials entering the workforce, digital-savvy business buyers are beginning to expect B2B buying to feel more and more like traditional B2C shopping. However, there are a few key differentiators. B2C shoppers like to browse, read reviews, compare products, and make emotional purchases. On the other hand, B2B buyers just want the facts and an easy ordering process. In general, B2B versus B2C purchasing can be simply explained: business buyers like to buy while consumers like to shop.
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So, although B2B and B2C customers are looking for similar experiences, these experiences differ a bit. Here are a few traditional B2C experiences that B2B buyers have adopted in recent years, but with a spin:
When it comes to search functionality within B2B buying, the goal is to understand how your customers search to find your products. If they are using unique terms, make those terms into attributes and incorporate them into your product information and search capabilities.
Similar to B2C, the B2B buyer expects to see product ratings and reviews, detailed descriptions, imagery and video, in addition to spec sheets, BOM part lists, maintenance information, manufacturer part numbers, and product numbers.
B2C customers expect to see retail prices, sale prices, discounts, and, in some cases, even volume discounts. B2B customers want to see custom/contract negotiated pricing when they log in to your B2B portal.
Upselling / Cross Selling:
B2B buyers expect to see upselling and cross selling techniques in the form of site or catalog content. Buyers want to learn about your full catalog, so making that information visible and easy to find is critical. Although B2B buyers want to know alternatives or options (upsells) and “you also might need” type of products (cross sells), the amount of emphasis should be far less than in a traditional B2C scenario.
B2C consumer sites are often optimized for shopping comparisons and suggested selling sections. B2B buyers expect to see more site functionality that streamlines the buying process. That might include “Bulk Ordering” options, and “Saved Orders” that can be quickly re-ordered to streamline the buying process.
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Payment / Terms:
Although B2C customer payment options are expanding, they are still heavily focused on credit card, gift card, paypal, or other 3rd party payments. B2B buyers expect additional options for terms to be invoiced via purchase order or to pay via wire transfer and ACH transfers.
As a B2B supplier, your product may be a key component to the success of your customer’s company. If you cannot deliver what they need, they will look elsewhere. Giving your customers the ability to see your on-hand inventory can build customer loyalty. Furthermore, providing the ability to easily split-ship orders based on availability can be a competitive advantage.
Whether in a B2C or B2B setting, buying and selling is about individual people getting what they want, either for themselves or for their company. As a seller, your job is to provide your customer with a seamless discovery and ordering experience that allows them to easily find what they are looking for while providing functionality and customer experience that goes beyond the shopping cart.