B2B Ecommerce: Know Your BuyerI recently posted a blog about the radical idea that B2B companies don’t buy anything…people do.

It’s true.

Think about it.

B2B companies fund their employees’ business purchases. Yes, those employees are purchasing goods and services for their employer, but ultimately, it’s essential that you remember that an individual, not an entire company, is making buying decisions in B2B transactions.

This is important to keep in mind because it will flavor how you reach out to your customers. It might even change how you think about your customers.


Here’s an example.

Let’s say you are a distributor of food service uniform clothing. You have two types of customers: big, national chains and small, local establishments. Chances are, these two types of food service businesses are going to want different things from their uniform supplier even though they both want to buy uniforms.

Your first customer is XYZ Restaurant Corporation with hundreds of locations all around the country. Your second customer is Dave’s Donut Emporium with one location in Fargo, ND.

With a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to ecommerce, your site messaging would focus on the various uniforms you offer and the available colors and sizes. You’d probably pick a message to promote–maybe you offer free shipping or feature 250 styles of logo’d polo shirts for your customer to choose from–and  you’d hope that both companies would respond favorably by ordering uniforms for their employees.

Using a human-focused approach, if you look at these two companies again, you’ll realize that your buyers for each company have different needs and agendas. Let’s look closer at the human being making the buying decision for each company.

Jim, the operations executive who has to choose which uniform company to go with at XYZ Restaurant Corporation is likely to be concerned with whether he can get the quantity price breaks he needs to stay within budget. He is also likely to be interested in whether your warehouse can ship direct to each of his locations so that his staff at headquarters doesn’t have to separate a larger order into shipments for individual restaurants. Uniform quality may or may not be a deciding factor.

Rosie, the manager at Dave’s Donuts, has far fewer employees to clothe and wants to make sure that the uniforms meet Dave’s–the owner–standards. She knows he doesn’t like wrinkled shirts and that he would rather pay a little more to have a shirt that will last longer than a few months than have to replace them more frequently. It may also be important to her to know that she can pick up a phone and contact her uniform supplier if she has questions or problems. She orders online a lot, but likes the option to speak to a person who can help her on the back-end.

Each of these buyers has a different agenda, but both are buying uniforms for a business. Knowing the demographics of the people you are selling to will help you target your site copy, tools, and resources directly to their needs. Once you know what matters to the human beings driving your B2B online sales, you can quickly and easily address it. Doing so will not only secure the sale, it will also set you apart from your competition.

Ready to take your business to the next level? View the on-demand webinar, Ecommerce Best Practices for B2B and B2C.