As we continue this series on the fundamental divergence between B2B buying and B2C shopping experiences, I will discuss some key capability differences that companies should consider for both technology and operations. We have previous discussed that B2C experiences typically focus heavily on shopper marketing tactics and creating impulse or discretionary purchases, while these principles do not typically apply to B2B buying experiences.
In a great B2C experience, many of the most critical capabilities involve targeting “personalized” content, promotions, and products to consumers based on their behavior. In today’s hyper-competitive retail market, every small detail can be a competitive edge. Flashy designs, promotions, and quick “browse-to-buy” purchase paths, optimized for conversion. Operationally-speaking, a B2C retailer may have a much larger team dedicated to getting personalized promotions out to customers, such as a large multi-channel and email marketing team. On the flip side, a B2B eCommerce operation may have more resources dedicated to product specification details and content optimization.
B2B experiences should not discount personalization, however, the basis for a “personalized” experience is different. The buyer has a desire to fulfill the needs of their job in a frictionless manner. Content, promotions, and products should be tailored to the user, but are typically driven by contracts, roles, and job requirements. This personalization is much more static and rules based, than the dynamic personalization for B2C. B2B buyers simply have different processes than B2C shoppers. We often point out a few differences between B2B and B2C commerce platforms (and you can read more of them here), but a few important ones include:
- Payments — B2C platforms are often credit card only out-of-the-box. B2B needs to provide the option for purchase orders, order approval options and budgeting workflows, payment on credit, and even the ability to check available credit.
- On-site search — Multiple product identifiers, attributes, measurements, and even customer- specific part numbers need to be able to be indexed and searched upon.
- Integrations & Connections — Do not underestimate the importance of a strong integration toolset. Whether it’s ERP integrations, PIM, DAM, or payment & invoicing providers, a robust framework and API-first approach is crucial.