5 Benefits of Having a Unified B2C and B2B eCommerce Site
Business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) used to seem like two mutually exclusive models for making a profit.
But the world of eCommerce has changed all that, and many businesses are finding they can maximize the effectiveness of their marketing and the health of their bottom line by combining B2B and B2C operations. Digital acceleration has led B2B services to learn from their consumer-facing cousins. It seems like the overlap was always bigger than anyone thought.
In this guide to unified B2C and B2B eCommerce you will learn:
- Why combine B2B and B2C?
- Advantages and disadvantages of B2B eCommerce
- Advantages and disadvantages of B2C eCommerce
- Five key benefits to a unified B2B and B2C eCommerce site
- Move forward faster
- How Adobe Commerce can help integrate B2B and B2C eCommerce
- Frequently asked questions
Why combine B2B and B2C?
More and more companies are selling to both consumers and businesses to grow sales and increase their market share. Companies that either make a product or sell in larger quantities can take advantage of economies of scale and generate huge margins, selling direct to consumers rather than just to businesses at a bulk discount.
One of the most obvious examples of selling to both businesses and consumers is manufacturers.
- They cannot usually sell enough products direct to consumers to cover all sales and rely on B2B sales.
- However, the benefit from the profit margin of cutting out the middleman with direct-to-consumer sales is far too high to ignore.
Traditionally, many companies have split up their sites for B2B and B2C channels to simplify operations because the two markets were so different. Amazon even did this with a different wholesale URL. They eventually shut this site down and recently integrated B2B into the flagship amazon.com so now you can simply buy as a business and consumer. Why did they make this switch? There must be some major benefit if the largest eCommerce company in the world made this decision.
Advantages and disadvantages of B2B eCommerce
B2B throws up endless advantages for those wanting to make the most of their eCommerce website, but it's not easy, and certain problems can be attached to this model, as detailed below.
Advantages and disadvantages of B2C eCommerce
Successful businesses will appeal to customers across many online platforms using personalization techniques such as push emails.
Five key benefits to a unified B2B and B2C eCommerce site
Totally different markets, different sales cycles, and different strategies. B2B and B2C markets were so widely set apart that surely life would be simpler if they stayed that way. B2C was emotional and short-term desire-driven, but faceless, and B2B relied on human relationships to make the sale but was more coldly logical. But there are amazing benefits to combining the benefits of both.
Based on my experience working with many companies who have had either one site or multiple sites, here are some of the key benefits I see to having a single, unified B2B and B2C site.
1. Unified catalogue management
One site allows you to manage all your products in one unified database. You may want to toggle some products on and off for certain users or for B2B vs B2C customers, but it's still much easier to do that than managing multiple catalogues.
2. Less technical overhead
You only have one theme and code base to manage. It’s much easier to manage one site than two. There may be some additional personalization to do, but overall, that is less work than maintaining and changing two sites.
3. One site and brand to promote
This is key. You only have one site for customers to remember, one brand to promote, and no confusion as to where to go. This is much easier for marketing and promotions.
4. Potentially simpler operations
I say potentially here because sometimes there is a lot of technical work to make one site work for both B2B and B2C. However, once it does work, it’s typically easier. This is because, with one website, you only have one place to integrate into systems like an ERP, CRM, and other systems. Therefore, your integrations and systems can be consolidated, rather than running multiple websites that may all need separate integrations.
5. B2B buyers want to buy like consumers
As a business, we want to buy quickly, efficiently, and at a good price. Time is the most important asset of an employee, and no company wants it wasted on buying a product. We don’t want to waste time traveling to a store or speaking via the phone if it can be avoided without any detriment. Therefore, having an experience that allows us to search, learn about the product, and buy quickly, just like a consumer, is what is typically desired.
Having one site for both B2B and B2C makes it easier to offer a consumer-like experience because the consumer experience is already wrapped in. You may only have to layer on some additional B2B personalization like better pricing, paying via invoice and other B2B options.
Move forward faster
There is something to be said when some of the largest B2B eCommerce companies in the world have recognized the benefits and are moving forward with one site. I do not think companies can ignore such a significant operational consideration for their company. It can simplify your business and help you move forward faster in the eCommerce world.
How Adobe Commerce can help integrate B2B and B2C eCommerce
Adobe Commerce offers flexible and intelligent solutions to meet the high demands of customers, whether they are B2B or B2C. The psychological factors that drive purchasing remain very different in B2B and B2C. B2C customers are driven by impulses and are lone decision-makers, while B2B customers, surrounded by decision-makers, are governed more by fear and risk aversion. You can appeal to both customer-specific and agile interfaces from Adobe Commerce.
Rich, personalized experiences
Drag-and-drop merchandising tools, customer-specific catalogues and pricing, and targeted content and product recommendations make it easy to create personalized experiences without IT help.
Quote management and price negotiations
Integrated customer quoting and price negotiation capabilities improve conversion. The streamlined quote request workflow can be entirely managed within our solution or through external systems using APIs.
Convenient account management
Self-service portals let your customers access invoices, order history, and company credit, as well as manage buyers and permissions.
Agility to adapt
A single system lets you manage both B2B and B2C businesses and sell to multiple sites and brands in multiple geographies. You also have the flexibility to sell digital goods, services, and subscriptions.
Buyers can quickly place orders by entering SKUs, uploading CSV files, or choosing from pre-set requisition lists, as well as purchase on credit and set approval rules to ensure compliance. Assisted selling enables easy order creation and troubleshooting.
Easily extend the platform and integrate with existing business systems using our robust library of APIs and thousands of off-the-shelf extensions including options for punchout purchasing and enterprise marketplaces.
Frequently asked questions about unified B2C and B2B eCommerce
Which is better, B2B or B2C?
Both models have their advantages and disadvantages. B2B is generally a longer, slower process because of the amount of buy-in required among multiple stakeholders, and negotiations may take longer. In B2C, conversions are usually faster and more impulse-driven, but businesses have lower volumes and less loyal customers. Which you choose depends upon your product, your industry, and your infrastructure.
Is Amazon a B2B or B2C?
Amazon is both – and an advertiser and cloud services provider to boot. It recently reintegrated its B2B spinoff into the flagship amazon.com, while maintaining separate business accounts, giving members access to free shipping, discounts, and special offers. All customers, whether business or personal, want seamless purchasing, cost savings, and total transparency.
How do you target both B2B and B2C?
Building relationships with two very different markets might seem tricky, and your impulse might be to create two parallel sites, marketing strategies and so on. But both markets can be mutually complementary as well as reinforcing, so long as your overarching vision is clear. Social media is perhaps the clearest overlap between B2B and B2C, so coordinate your presence to appeal to both markets. And remember B2B clients are a crucial conduit into the minds of their (and your) ultimate customers.
About the author and Trellis
Isaiah Bollinger is the CEO and Founder of Trellis who started the company in 2012. Trellis is a full-service eCommerce solution provider that specializes in implementing Adobe Commerce-based websites. Our capabilities allow us to plan and design a solution that not only meets your specific goals and budget today but will also scale with you as you grow. Once a site is launched, we stick side by side with our clients to help them improve the site and market the site to generate more customers. Follow on Twitter: @IsaiahBollinger & @trelliscommerce