B2B and B2C eCommerce are different, but they are beginning to converge. B2B buyers are far more keen on self-directed purchasing experiences than they have ever been. So it’s up to B2B sellers to meet these changing demands from their audience.
But what does your B2B storefront or marketplace need? If you’re selling products or services to other businesses, here are some features that your site needs to provide to B2B buyers.
B2C eCommerce pricing is very simple. You visit, for example, Amazon to buy a TV and you are quoted a price. You click to buy, possibly adjusting a quantity field if you want more than one (if you’re rich!) and the order is complete. But crucially there is one unit price. You pay the retail price of the TV, maybe a delivery fee, and that’s it.
B2B eCommerce is different. Although some B2B vendors may have processes similar to the Amazon example above, most have to take a variety of approaches to pricing.
B2B eCommerce websites often use a personalised pricing structure for their customers. A long term bulk B2B buyer may have varying arrangements with their chosen B2B seller. So their seller has to provide an online purchasing solution that takes all of these arrangements into account.
B2B sellers need to have an online platform capable of variable pricing structures based on who the customer is. Whatever the pricing model, B2B sellers need to be ready and able to serve their users. Especially now that B2B buyers are switching towards self-directed purchasing experiences.
If you are selling a service on your B2B platform, pricing solutions tend to work quite differently. The traditional model, with regard to pricing, usually involves the customer requesting a quotation from a vendor. Unless the service has a flat recurring monthly cost.
As B2B buyers now prefer a more self-directed approach to purchasing, B2B companies that offer a service based on quotations can still offer in-depth information. They can build tools to allow the customer to build their own “quote” and then put them into contact with the sales team.
Focus on buyer needs
A seamless and engaging user experience can provide a number of benefits. In B2C eCommerce, engaging storefront experiences aid conversion, increase ROI and keep users coming back for more.
These benefits are also valid for the B2B eCommerce space. Especially if buyers can purchase a product or service directly from the B2B vendor, without a lengthy quotation process.
But the pressures of a B2B customer are slightly different to that of a general consumer. The B2B purchase process usually involves a lot of decision makers. So a typical B2B purchase is longer and becomes part of the workflow for many people within an organization.
B2B buyers in certain verticals need to conduct a lot of research. Depending on the niche they are active in they could need a lot of product information. They need to find a lot of information and they need to find it quickly.
So great product/service related content and strong internal site search functionality are a must.
User experience (UX) optimisation in the B2C space is a process of analysis and continuous improvement. This is no different in B2B eCommerce. Intuitive navigation, site speed and a checkout that’s easy to use are all must haves. But attention should also be paid to upsell opportunities if they are applicable to the product or service that the B2B buyer is purchasing.
If you need help with UX/UI optimization for your B2B marketplace, get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org. We use design thinking principles to help you improve engagement with your users and increase ROI.
Discounts are often used in the B2B space, as they are in B2C. And as in B2C space they can be used to reward regular customers and drive new business.
But discounts work differently in the B2B market.
A large number of B2B vendors use bulk discounts to reward loyal customers. So any B2B vendor who has an online marketplace, and wants to help buyers take a more self-service approach, needs to build in personalized discount functionality into their check out process.
If you sell services to B2B customers, discount functionality is still important but how easy it is to implement depends on your pricing structure. But there are ways you can implement discounts in your online presence. For example, if you price based on time you can offer a certain number of hours for free or at a reduced rate.
There are almost as many online payment methods now as there are eCommerce marketplaces!
And B2B eCommerce adds a few more into the mix. Purchase orders, invoicing, dedicated e-payment systems…there are a lot of options! However, a primary concern for B2B sellers is the commission charged by payment providers. The economics of 3% commission on a $5 gadget is very different from that of a $25,000 order of manufacturing materals etc.
A B2B marketplace has to integrate as many economically viable payment methods as possible into their checkout process. And B2B sellers should have the flexibility to add more. Which can be quite a technical challenge.
But with B2B buyers now preferring self-service a seamless payment pathway, no matter what the method, will provide a smoother path to purchase. But B2B sellers need to decide if integrating new digital payment methods is right for them.
Tax functions for international customers
Worldwide shipping is now the norm for many businesses. B2B buyers purchase what they need from B2B sellers all over the world. This not only presents logistical issues, but also tax and duty issues.
This can be difficult for B2B sellers to implement. But flexibility is needed in the payment process to deal with tax payments and exemptions in multiple countries. This is especially true in SEA.
B2B ellers can remedy some of these issues by offering targeted content to international customers that informs them of the rules and regulations required to ship to their country.
Every feature of a B2B eCommerce marketplace needs to work on mobile devices.
Traditionally, B2B buyers tended to use desktops devices to make purchases. But mobile device adoption has rapidly increased, especially in light of the COVID pandemic. So B2B sellers need to be responsive and fully featured to meet this demand.
Mobile devices are also used extensively in the “research” phase of the purchase funnel. So B2B sellers need to be ready with both content that meets these needs and functionality that converts research queries into leads and purchases.
How MAQE can help
MAQE has years of experience working with B2B customers. We’ve helped B2B businesses improve their UX/UI, implement payment solutions and serve the needs of their customers.
If you need help with your B2B eCommerce platform get in touch with us via hello@MAQE.com, we’d love to talk to you.