This article was contributed by one of our partners: BigCommerce, which is a powerful ecommerce platform for fast-growing and enterprise businesses.
As of 2014, only 22% of B2B companies were selling online — but with the emergence of ecommerce solutions and evolving customer desires, that’s changing quickly. By 2020, the B2B market will be worth $1 trillion, twice as much as the B2C market.
But what’s worked for B2C companies online won’t necessarily work for B2B. Business and consumer sales differ greatly in terms of customer expectations, buying cycles and sales processes.
Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind when launching a B2B strategy, whether you’re branching out to a new customer base or taking your B2B company online for the first time.
Key differences between B2B and B2C strategy
Besides the obvious — B2B entails selling your products to other businesses, while B2C means directly selling to individual consumers — the two types of transactions have other factors that call for diverging strategies.
Whereas B2C purchases are usually made by one person, B2B sales usually require you to sell to teams of decision makers. These decision makers often come from different backgrounds, and therefore, have different needs and desires you must appeal to in order to win the deal. You must have collateral or content that speaks to each party’s needs, and helps them see why buying from you can make it easier for them to do their job or achieve their business goals.
Merchandising techniques vary based on B2C preferences; B2B customers are usually searching for specific features to serve as a comprehensive solution. The way you sell products, including messaging, up- and cross-selling techniques and product information you highlight, will need to be customized for each customer segment.
For example, B2C customers may care more about buying a product that is of the highest quality, since they are buying in lower quantities. B2B customers, on the other hand, may seek a product that works within their company’s tight budget and provides easy recurring order set up. Your product may very well win in all of these categories, but you need to understand your buyers’ goals in order to include the key information that speaks to them.
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Regardless of what you’re selling, your business customers are going to need a larger amount of it than your individual consumer base. You’ll also likely need to lower your prices to compete with wholesalers and other B2B sellers, which is why many B2B companies don’t make their pricing publicly available.
This opens up the opportunity for price customization, basing B2B pricing off of individual customers and situations and maximizing your ROI on a case-by-case basis. There are options for implementing quote technology to streamline this portion of the sales process, or enabling customers to call in their orders the old-fashioned way.
Individual shoppers may receive a few boxes at a time while businesses may require truckloads. B2B shipping requires a much different fulfillment strategy, from packaging, to how and how much you pay a carrier.
Despite this, even B2B customers expect your shipments to be speedy. About 78% of B2B customers (compared with a similar 83% of B2C consumers) say expedited fulfillment options are important or very important.