Lately at Insite we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of articles and individual viewpoints proclaiming the “convergence of B2B and B2C” where eCommerce is concerned. While there are certainly aspects of B2C eCommerce that set the expectations of the B2B customer experience, the fundamental commercial purpose of B2B is much different than that of B2C. The idea that B2B companies must mirror B2C experiences in their entirety is creating expensive, if not dangerous, misalignment within B2B eCommerce initiatives.
To create the best B2B eCommerce experiences, we need to focus on the areas in which B2B diverges from B2C. We must build experiences that support the unique complexities of B2B, not try to force B2C characteristics onto a completely different process.
Remember, that B2C experiences are generally designed to two primary commercial purposes in mind. The first is to facilitate the initial desired product purchase as quickly and transparently as possible, and the second is to entice the consumer to make impulse purchases. This is really the digitization of traditional brick and mortar shopper marketing. Think of the end cap or the merchandise in the checkout aisle. While these tactics work well with consumers, who have the latitude to deviate from their original purchase path, we find that most B2B purchases do not follow this behavior.
In our experience, B2B path to purchase typically follows one of two paths. There is the replenishment of consumables and the reach and application of product for a specification or use. Neither of these use cases lend themselves well to consumer/shopper marketing tactics and in fact, those tactics can create distraction and overhead that builds a negative perception.
In the next post of this five-part blog series, I will perform a deeper exploration of the digitization of shopper marketing and the organizational competencies needed to support the model.