B2C eCommerce Website
Taking a Multi-Channel Approach
Historically, manufacturers have relied on their channel partners for their go-to-market strategy, therefore have been removed from direct interaction with the end consumer. In the age of the customer, manufacturers are looking for ways to interact directly with the end consumer, and a B2C eCommerce solution might be the answer. Manufacturers may have a strong B2B channel, where they focus most of their efforts, but also sell the same product direct to end consumer. For instance, while a linen manufacturer’s main line of business is selling in a B2B-model to their services partners, they may also have a line of products they sell to the public. Likewise, a plumbing fixtures manufacturer receives the bulk of their orders from distributors, home improvement retailers, or contractors, they may also wish to sell direct to DIY-ers. Whatever the situation, B2C eCommerce experiences differ from those of B2B eCommerce. Where B2B buyers are generally focused on getting the job done as quickly as possible by coming to a site armed with the product identifiers, B2C buyers may want to utilize a more leisurely browsing style experience, looking to compare a few options side-by-side, or may even enter your site via a marketing channel. B2C customers often have differing ways of navigating or finding your site, they often share similar expectations when it comes to product information and ease of use.
While manufacturers will likely always have B2B channel partners, the need or ability to serve a broader range of customers is an opportunity many manufacturers struggle to get right. Quite often, manufacturers build a robust channel partner portal or eCommerce experience that wouldn’t fit the need of direct customers very well. Field sales representatives will be able to easily bring samples or arrange demonstrations for their traditional distributors while other direct customers will be simply purchasing online.
Your B2B eCommerce portal likely makes it easy to find information containing industry terms, jargon, and product identifiers, likely without a ton of marketing materials and product imagery. This approach isn’t ideal for direct customers, who through their experiences with other big-box online retailers, have come to expect a different experience. Multiple product images, demonstration videos, ratings and reviews, are just the surface of what the everyday B2C customer has come to expect. B2C merchandisers and marketers also have different goals and tactics they need the eCommerce experience to support. Often-times marketers will want to create an ad-hoc and temporary landing page to advertise for an event, or send email-recipients to. Pricing is likely different and somewhat less complex. Marketers also rely on SEO to assist their prospects, who may or may not have name recognition with the manufacturer to find their products, and web analytics to help quantify marketing campaigns and overall website success.
B2B eCommerce experiences can have many different pricing options for a single SKU, but B2C is much different. B2B pricing depends on where the customers are located and how frequently they purchase, but most of the time all B2C purchasers are shown the same price. Public pricing is another marketing mechanism, especially in competitive markets. Manufacturers may have agreements in place to respect MAP (minimum advertised price) if they’re selling a product their channel partners also sell.
Reinforce brand loyalty.
Suzie is an avid fitness buff. She runs many miles a week, and when in the winter, prefers to run on a treadmill to avoid the cold. She used to only go to a local gym, because they had best-in-class X-Life Treadmills. She doesn’t like the high costs of the gym to use one machine, so she goes to X-Life’s website and finds she can buy a treadmill for her own home.
Serve previously untapped territory.
Dean loves the look of Jackson Hardware faucets, and wants to purchase them for his own home. However, there are no Jackson Hardware distributors or showrooms in his home state of Montana. He instead can purchase his faucets directly from JacksonHardware.com, and have them shipped directly to him for him to install in his bathroom.