B2B vs. B2C eCommerce: What's the difference and why does it matter?


Read on the learn how B2B eCommerce differs from "traditional" B2C eCommerce, and why it matters for your B2B sales.

When you think of eCommerce, what probably comes to mind is the classic Business-to-Consumer (B2C) experience we all enjoy when we shop online. We can filter our searches, add products to a shopping cart, checkout, and we’re done. The hardest part is waiting on our delivery or driving to pick up our order.

But what about Business-to-Business (B2B) industries that involve massive volumes of products and orders, complex specifications, and the high-stakes risk of missing a shipping deadline?

At a basic level, the biggest difference between B2C and B2B is the targeted customer. When it comes to eCommerce, there are unique differences (and similarities), requirements, and best practices to consider for your B2B or B2C experience.


B2C eCommerce UX Best Practices

B2C eCommerce platforms are a well-established, direct-sales platform for many companies. Today’s consumers have come to expect a seamless digital experience with personalized content, an intuitive interface, and ease of use. Online giant Amazon is often cited as the benchmark for eCommerce and the pressure is on for businesses to provide a similar experience.

The B2C experience is an essential foundation for any eCommerce strategy so you can meet customer demands and expectations and keep up with the competition.

Standard B2C eCommerce features often include:

  • Filtered and sorted search
  • Shopping cart / buy now feature
  • Customer reviews
  • Emotion-driven copy
  • UI-focused interface
  • Detailed product pages
  • Guest checkout option
  • Loyalty programs
  • Typical self-service features
    • Order history
    • Reorders
    • Returns
    • Saved payment methods

B2C eCommerce innovation continues at a fast rate. Some of the top trends we are seeing include a focus on personalization and support for international eCommerce expansion.

B2B eCommerce UX Best Practices

B2B eCommerce is quickly becoming a major advantage for companies in all industries and of all sizes. Customer expectations, as well as shrinking margins, are forcing B2B companies to venture online in order to remain competitive. In fact, B2B is one of the fastest-growing segments for both new and established companies.

Although B2C and B2B eCommerce UX requirements share some fundamental components, the B2B companies often have unique requirements an eCommerce solution must be able to handle, such as:

  • Complex or custom pricing structures
  • Vast numbers of products and configurations
  • Sophisticated planning
  • Shipping date availability
  • Multiple channels
  • Integration to back-end systems
  • Security and business rules

For the B2B eCommerce user experience, the customer purchasing process is less emotional and more logical. It can involve one person, or a group of decision makers. Your customers are not only seeking the best prices, but the most reliable vendor to complete their supply chain.

Depending on your industry, your eCommerce experiences may look different from traditional B2C. But for many industries, such as wholesale, it can be helpful to your customers to mimic the B2C experience where it makes sense, and provide expanded capabilities, including:

  • Secure login
  • Business and user-based rules and logic
  • Custom, personalized pricing structures
  • Custom views and ordering processes
  • Online quote requests
  • Advanced self-service features such as real-time inventory visibility

Capitalizing on B2B eCommerce

Nearly all industries, whether B2B or B2C, are embracing eCommerce and the shift to digital experiences. In the B2B world, we are at a critical juncture where early adopters can leapfrog their competition. eCommerce investments today can translate into real competitive advantage that drives revenues tomorrow.

One example of the advantages B2B eCommerce provides is the ability to empower your customers with self-service. This eliminates the restriction of doing business only during office hours and is a huge benefit for employees as well. Today’s customers want the freedom of independent transactions, such as reordering without having to talk to a salesperson. And as a seller, you can reduce costs without compromising the customer experience.

Another advantage of B2B eCommerce is the opportunity to educate customers and guide them through product configuration. Leading B2B platforms in manufacturing often support user-friendly configurators to quickly build customized products and capture customer preferences for future marketing campaigns.

With an integrated B2B eCommerce platform, you can connect and leverage data across ERP, CRM, inventory, and marketing to elevate your insights, identify trends, and provide a more personalized experience for every customer.

The New Potential for B2B eCommerce

Want to learn more about the power of B2B eCommerce? Download our white paper, The New Potential in B2B eCommerce. You will learn how your company can optimize and expand your distribution channels, empower your customers with self-service, and make complex selling easier. And, of course, our experts are always here to answer questions and help you explore your options.

Download the whitepaper: The New Potential in B2B eCommerce

Give us a call or contact us today to get started on your B2B eCommerce requirements planning.

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