Is it easy to get started with a B2C e-commerce solution as a B2B company?

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B2C companies have long been at the forefront of e-commerce. Many e-commerce solutions have been developed for the B2C market. As a B2B company, can you also use this for a business webshop or customer portal?

To find out, it is advisable to first of all focus on the similarities and differences between B2B e-commerce and B2C e-commerce. Subsequently you'll find out what this means for the choice of a system, platform or webshop software.

Similarities between B2B e-commerce and B2C e-commerce

  • Need for self-service: both business buyers and consumers want to be in control of the orientation and purchasing process. Shopping and ordering whereever, whenever.
  • High customer expectations: Completing shopping carts with just a few clicks. Order today and we'll deliver tomorrow. Targeted offers and product recommendations. Consumers are spoiled when it comes to online shopping, and they’re sure to take those expectations with them when doing B2B purchases. As a result, when it comes to the customer experience, the bar has been raised for B2B websites as well.
  • Transparency and insight: Both private and business customers expect insight into the order and delivery process. Following in the footsteps of B2C web shops, more and more B2B web shops are working with track & trace.

Differences between B2B e-commerce and B2C e-commerce

  • Roles and responsibilities: Not all business customers can make purchasing decisions on their own. For example, purchases might need to be approved by a manager or buyer. Or a purchase decision is made as part of a team (Decision Making Unit). This means that a B2B webshop must support quotations or other solutions. And be sure to provide access to multiple users with different roles and rights on a single customer account.
  • Individual customer agreements: Many B2B companies work with individual customer agreements. Customer A buys more and thus receives better quantity discounts than customer B. Customer C has a lower minimum order value or different payment terms than customer D. And customer E is allowed to order on credit, but customer F isn’t. A B2B webshop must therefore offer multiple possibilities when it comes to price and condition management. This might be price management on an individual level, but also for example on the level of market segments or dealers. To apply price and condition differentiation you will also have to work with a closed webshop environment.
  • Different customer behaviour: B2B customers buy a product because they need it, impulse purchases are therefore less common. Search behaviour in webshops is also different. B2C customers often search for a product name or click their way through the range. Business buyers are conducting more targeted searches, for example on the basis of product codes, serial numbers or specific item characteristics. This requires different filters and search functions in your B2B webshop.

What does this mean for your webshop?

Are you primarily selling to consumers and occasionally receive a business order? If so, a B2C webshop with some minor tweaks is a great solution. However, if you sell to business customers on a serious, high-volume basis, you need a specific B2B e-commerce platform. Once again, you have several choices to make.

What are the different types of B2B webshops?

  • Stand-alone B2B webshop: this type of webshop is independent of other systems. There is no synchronisation of products or stock levels.
  • Linked B2B webshop: this type of webshop is connected via links to an ERP package, PIM system, OMS system and/or accounting package, for example. This means that you only need to keep track of your range, prices and inventory in one system.
  • An integrated B2B platform: this type of webshop integrates all data flows and online customer processes. This means you have one environment from which you not only manage your webshop, but also your marketing, sales, order management and service.

Exactly what type of B2B web shop is right for your business?

A stand-alone webshop is actually only suitable for B2B companies with a limited assortment and a relatively small customer base. For other B2B companies, a linked B2B webshop or an integrated B2B platform might be a better choice. OrderCentral offers the best of both worlds in an integrated B2B platform. Of course you can also choose to use just the webshop and create links to your existing systems.