The channel shift to online for B2B buyers shows no signs of slowing down; in fact many would say that the convergence of B2B & B2C e-commerce is here.

B2C and B2B Firms Face Overlapping Challenges

A recent Aberdeen survey of the e-commerce activities of both B2B and B2C firms reveals many overlaps among the roadblocks impacting B2B and B2C e-commerce activities. According to the survey, the top four challenges facing both B2B and B2C firms are:

  • Customers are increasingly using digital channels to shop; we need to be there.
  • We need to reach a wider shopper base to sell our products.
  • We need to differentiate ourselves from competitors by delivering dynamic and transformative digital shopper experiences.
  • We need to better respond to empowered requests to shop anytime and anywhere seamlessly across multiple channels.

Special Considerations for B2B Firms

Although B2B & B2C e-commerce have converged as it relates to priorities, challenges and shopper expectations, it’s also important to recognize the unique needs facing B2B firms.

What are the notable differences?

  • B2C is simpler. Generally speaking, prices are fixed, shipping is easy, there’s little to no tax complexity, and most consumer products aren’t heavily regulated.
  • Contrasted with B2B: prices are highly variable, fulfillment and distribution are more complicated, and there are many concerns about sales tax and regulatory restrictions.

So what steps should a B2B firm take to deliver a best-in-class omni-channel experience? Build a B2B e-commerce strategy that puts customers first.

Three key things to keep in mind as you’re formulating your B2B e-commerce strategy are:

  1. B2B buyer expectations have been shaped by their B2C transactions
  2. By 2025, Millennials will become 75% of the global workforce
  3. Thinking digital first means thinking mobile first (yes, even for B2B buyers)

B2B firms can learn a lot by modeling customer experience best practices after the top B2C online retailers. But don’t forget these key B2B buyer needs:

  • Split shipping and multiple ship-to addresses
  • Quotes and Request for Quote (RFQ)
  • Competitor cross reference
  • Custom catalog and contract pricing

If your B2B e-commerce platform isn’t where it needs to be, now is the time to make the investment in modernizing the way you do business.