B2B in eCommerce: How B2B is Becoming More Like B2C

By
Chris Russillo
March 21, 2016

Today, with just a few clicks of a button, consumers can instantly purchase electronics, clothes, and even fresh groceries from just about any retailer around the world. Online shopping is now second nature, and it is expected by consumers everywhere. Making a one-time B2C purchase is pretty rudimentary when compared to the complexities of B2B transactions. But as more and more manufacturers and wholesale distributors make eCommerce a priority, convenient online shopping experiences are also being offered in the B2B realm. Many B2B eCommerce platforms now provide flexible, reliable experiences that deliver engaging shopping experiences for retailers and other wholesale buyers. Let’s take a look at four areas in which B2B eCommerce has been catching up to B2C, revolutionizing the ways retailers buy from manufacturers and distributors in the process.

B2B in eCommerce: How B2B is Becoming More Like B2C

1. Features

When it comes to features, B2B eCommerce platforms have been closing the gap between themselves and their B2C counterparts. These solutions are now offering:

  • Customer order history and product favorites
  • A comprehensive, intuitive search experience
  • Ability to duplicate past orders
  • Shipment tracking
  • Inventory availability

These features give retailers a simple, self-service experience that feels familiar and intuitive. Retailers can make purchases, educate themselves about products and brands, and check on basic account details like order status, just like they do as B2C online consumers. At the same time, B2B eCommerce solutions also include certain B2B specific features that can accommodate the complexities of the B2B purchasing process, including:

  • Seller Review
  • Customer-specific pricing and discounting rules
  • Ship Dates/Cancel Dates
  • Order minimums
  • Sales tax exemptions
  • Accommodation of complex product variant structures

2. Immersive Product Catalogs

Retailers have long mastered the art of window dressing, making their top products and brand visible and always accessible online. In this area, B2B has historically lagged behind B2C, relying on thick paper catalogs and call centers to handle incoming orders. New eCommerce solutions now enable manufacturers and distributors to curate an immersive, information-rich online product catalog. With search functions and improved navigation patterns that help users appreciate the breadth of a brand’s offering, B2B buyers can now browse and place orders in the same way they shop personally online.

3. Mobile Migration

As B2B buyers start using tablets and smartphones to research and purchase products, mobile is emerging as an important channel for B2B companies. The newest mobile solutions empower B2B customers to buy from manufacturers and distributors at any time, whether it’s at the shelf or in the stockroom. Recent numbers from Forrester suggest that demand is growing rapidly for mobile self-service eCommerce capabilities. These figures are only expected to increase. In both B2B and B2C, mobile has asserted itself as a key platform to browse for and buy products.

4. Branding

B2B marketers have realized the value of delivering a branded message across all channels, including eCommerce. Manufacturers and distributors are branding their eCommerce sites with their logos, colors, and imagery in order to provide an online experience consistent with what their sales reps offer in person and what customers can find on their main websites. Questions about how B2B in eCommerce is becoming more like B2C? Let us know in the comments.