As more buying moves online, businesses must invest in an eCommerce platform that serves their customers. Let’s break down two ways to focus your site: Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C).
Business-to-Business is simply defined as a form of transactions between businesses, such as one involving a manufacturer and wholesaler or a wholesaler and a retailer. Business is conducted between companies rather than between a company and individual (non-company) consumers. B2B customers can have different expectations than their B2C counterparts. The average B2B customer expects to see more in-depth information about the products they are looking for on the site. They tend to be a more “educated” buyer (about the product) and require less marketing data on the product itself. They also need up-to-date delivery information as they are often making commitments within the company based upon when and where the product is expected to be delivered.
B2B sites are perfect for “experienced buyers.” They know the products they want but might need deeper technical information. When they log into your site, they expect to see personalized data, such as pricing, shipping options, payment terms (Net 30, 60, etc.), and other specific information about their account. Providing them other options like re-ordering items from a previous order with a click of a button saves them time and makes doing business with you convenient. They might want to review their general account information, including outstanding AR aging, order history, and invoices. These options enhance their experience with you and make return business easy.
Business-to-Consumer sites tend to be more marketing-driven and optimized for search. These sites draw in new users and capture the buyer's attention. You focus more on how customers can find your products and market to somebody who has never seen them before. B2C customers want an easy buying and checkout process, including delivery information, without being forced to create an account Consumers want to access your website, purchase an item, and get out. They should see the pricing & availability of items without logging into your site. B2C customers don’t have payment terms and are typically more interested in credit card transactions and even the “Buy Now, Pay Later” options from Fintech partners such as Affirm, Klarna, and even PayPal.
Some companies take a Hybrid approach to designing their site. A hybrid site is open to the public but might not directly sell to the consumer, but it operates as an online catalog. There are many benefits from an SEO perspective to this approach. For example, if a customer is browsing for a product online or an item number or manufacturer item number, the search engine you are using will spider the web and take them to the site. The consumer can browse products online but ultimately must have a login to purchase the product or view pricing information.
There are many ways your site can be designed depending on your customers' expectations. Some of the things pointed out above can be found in both B2B and B2C sites, so there is no hard and fast rule on one vs another. It comes down to the user experience you want for your customers or prospects. The important part is to work with a company that understands this, is not rigid in its design capabilities, and is open to working with you to create an eCommerce solution that fits your business.