The average B2C shopper has countless online shopping conveniences and options. But how about B2B consumers? Are they able to leverage the benefits of eCommerce like B2C consumers?
Research suggests that one-fifth of B2B shopping still happens offline. There is a huge gap in eCommerce adoption amidst B2B customers. But why isn’t eCommerce clicking for B2B executives? What’s broken with B2B eCommerce that needs to be fixed to ramp up adoption?
If B2B and B2C eCommerce are to be placed side by side for comparison, one of the fundamental differences is in the scale of audience to which each type of business model connects.
While B2C strives to serve broadly-defined target audiences who have common aspirations, needs and even comfortable price bands, B2B has an even more specific target audience. It narrows down on businesses operating in specific industries, aims to fulfill the needs of customers in specific organizational hierarchy and also adopts a highly customized approach to doing it all.
For example, a B2C customer who wants to buy a table for their dining room can make his selection from the countless choices available from online stores. Because the quantity required is limited to one or two, it is easy to find vendors who offer the same at a convenient price band along with the quality promise.
A B2B customer on the other hand has to wade through several challenges to see an order to completion. They have a complex sales cycle that is miles apart from the typical sales funnel that B2C customers slide through. B2B customers have to negotiate common price points for bulk quantities without sacrificing quality. There is also the difficulty of having several hands-on deck to approve a single sales order. In addition to these challenges, there are several other broken pieces of B2B eCommerce that should be mended to upgrade to the next level of eCommerce. Here are some possible ways:
A B2B buyer’s journey does not resemble an arrow-straight road from point A to point B. It comprises several roadblocks and diversions before the final purchase decision is made. A single channel of sale makes it difficult to sell to B2B customers.
Omnichannel customer experience in B2B makes it easy for executives to mix and match online and offline channels to their advantage. After all, like B2C customers, B2B buyers also begin their product research with an online search before resuming it in another offline or online channel.
The fundamental difference between B2C and B2B eCommerce is the number of decision-makers involved in completing a transaction. B2B commerce caters to organizations that are replenishing stocks for their inventory or are in the process of creating supplies for the long-term. As a result, they buy in large quantities of uniform quality products, mostly white-labels with institutional packaging.
The large quantity spikes up the final bill estimate many times that of the Average Order Value (AOV) of a B2C customer. For instance, if a B2C customer shops for a single coffee table, a B2B consumer, an owner of a chain of restaurants, will need the same coffee table in dozens. The approval for the design, the make, the cost, the mode of delivery etc. can be finalized only with the due consent of the respective personnel. Ultimately, this would stretch the decision way longer than a single day or even a week. But, the delivery expectations of B2B customers are not significantly different from that of B2C customers.
One of the conveniences that B2C customer experiences are the on-demand or same-day delivery facility. The B2C eCommerce supply chain has been tightly integrated to attain shorter delivery spans that were considered impossible a decade ago.
However, given the scale and volume at which B2B eCommerce functions, it is not possible to provide on-demand or same-day delivery. What is possible is tweaking the supply chain to create a tighter delivery schedule. If B2B consumers can be provided reasonable assurance of quicker deliveries, there is a higher probability that they will continue to engage for the long-term.
As omnichannel rises in prominence, there is also a pressing need to create a mobile experience that will put the worries of B2B buyers to rest. According to studies by BigCommerce, B2B retailers are also quickly moving from paper processes to mobile-based ordering.
seamless mobile experience that is woven with e-catalogs, multi-dimensional images and mobile ordering can make the last leg of B2B commerce easier and effortless for B2B consumers. It also makes it easy to share product catalogs and multiple price quotes to decision-makers who can quickly arrive at a consensus without being bogged down by paperwork.
Recently, Amazon, the world’s everything store for B2C customers, launched Amazon Business — a purchasing solution for their registered business of any size. The service enables businesses to assign users who can go ahead and purchase business supplies on behalf of their employer.
What Amazon is trying to do is tear down the process-heavy B2B eCommerce into something simple and delightful that Amazon B2C is reputed for. This is going to be the way forward for other B2B retailers as well. In the days to come, there will be a fundamental shift in the way in which B2B eCommerce is done.
To know more about MAI's expertise in contact center and fulfillment services, please drop in an email now!