Building the Perfect B2B and B2C Ecommerce Experience

B2B and B2C websites have always occupied their own individual spaces from an ecommerce and marketing standpoint. And it makes sense, for the most part. B2B and B2C have intrinsically different business models, and usually very different products or services. There are plenty of businesses, however, that occupy both the B2B and B2C space – including large retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers. These businesses, though they sell to both individual consumers and larger organizations, tend to separate their online presence and create two different systems and two different customer experiences online. This approach simplifies some things – companies can utilize marketing language that speaks directly to the particular audience for the particular product or service. They can create separate systems to manage transactions and fulfillment. And they can offer targeted pricing to varying price groups among their customers.

There are benefits of separating your online presence, but this approach is not without drawbacks. Maintaining two websites for a single business means increasing costs. It means managing two sites, two transaction processes, and two web servers. It means integrating two sites with back-office software. It means paying for two separate software licensing fees. Most importantly, building and managing two separate websites is just simply inefficient.

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In today’s highly competitive online landscape, beating the competition takes more than having a better product. You must have a great customer experience – and a financially sustainable process. Companies are constantly looking for new efficiencies that save both time and money – and more companies are merging their B2B and B2C sites into one to accomplish this. With innovative enterprise ecommerce platforms like Miva, can now be easily merged with robust, feature-rich front-end templates to enable a personalized experience for each shopper – and a seamless back-end experience to match.

B2B vs. B2C: What’s the Difference?

While B2B and B2C ecommerce sites are both executing the same general function – selling goods and services to their customers – they typically have different functionality and different styles. The consumer audience and business customer audience have different needs, and different approaches when it comes to purchasing online. The customer journey is typically a richer experience for the consumer, and a more tactical experience for the business customer, requiring unique functionality for each website.

The typical B2C ecommerce site utilizes responsive design – websites that expand and contract to fit the screen they are viewed on – including mobile. This allows businesses to reach and convert consumers the exact moment they’re ready to purchase, no matter where they are. Intuitive category navigation and search functionality are necessary to ensure consumers can easily find what they’re looking for, so they don’t get frustrated and jump to a competitor. Capturing the moment is key. Consumer websites also require rich content on the product pages that further entice a purchase. Videos and images, ratings and reviews, and FAQ sections can all help ensure that customer not only finds what they are looking for – but follow through with their purchase. And when it comes time to make that purchase, a quick and easy checkout process and customer account system that securely stores data for returning customers are paramount. With B2C, it’s all about the consumer experience.

The B2B experience is a bit different. Business customers don’t necessarily need to be “wowed” by the shopping experience. In many cases, business customers know exactly what they want. A simple, logical and painless experience is key. B2B websites must also take into account variables that consumer sites don’t – MSRP and MAP codes, purchase orders, various shipping and freight options and payment options. Business customers aren’t “shopping” – they’re procuring supplies for their business. Some have longstanding relationships and require a simplified re-order process as well as special pricing. Many B2B companies offer special pricing depending on the particular customer and other factors. Pricing tiers are often broken down by customer groups (wholesale, dealer, jobber, etc.) and volume (X units at Y price, etc.). This pricing logic is perhaps the main reason why companies separate their B2B and B2C websites.

One Business, One Website

Building a single online ecommerce experience that serves the needs of both consumers and business customers can drive efficiency and lower costs. To combine the two, however, requires building a platform with functionality that addresses the unique needs of each audience and each business strategy. Miva’s online ecommerce solutions perfectly blend B2B and B2C functionality in an easy to manage platform.

Pricing Logic

Miva’s built-in Price Group functionality allows merchants to show the right prices to each customer logged in to the store. Conditional-logic in Miva’s templating language automatically adapts the shopping experience when B2C customers are logged in, and enables specific B2B functionality when business customers are logged in. Merchants can set discounts and other specific pricing structures based on each customer’s profile.

Availability Groups

Many online merchants offer specific products to specific groups. With Miva’s Availability Group functionality, merchants can show the right products to each customer based on their account or profile. Availability Group functions allow merchants to hide or reveal specific products automatically and offer specific shipping and payment options for each customer. Simplified conditional logic controls make personalizing the ecommerce experience for customers easy.

Custom Website Design

B2C ecommerce sites require more thoughtful design than B2B sites, but with Miva’s ecommerce solution, you can achieve a consumer-style design with B2B functionality. Miva templates are easy to customize using HTML, CSS, Javascript and other platforms. Simple changes to the look and feel of your site can go a long way for both consumers and business customers. Designing a website from scratch is great – but it’s not cost-effective. With customizable templates, you get the best of both worlds.

Customer Experience Control

The biggest reason for separating your B2C and B2B sites is the ability to create and control the ecommerce experience for different types of customers. With Miva’s template language controls, you can create custom experiences using simple commands like “If/Else” statements. For example, if a customer is logged in to an approved B2B account, warehouse inventory information or special pricing would be visible, whereas with an individual consumer they would not be. Miva’s experience controls also feature “Call” statements, that automatically spur an action once the customer submits an order. For instance, you can set the system to get an inventory count before confirming an order or have the system automatically post the order details to your ERP system.

If your business sells both B2B and B2C products or services, you no longer have to simultaneously operate, manage and pay for two separate sites. The Miva ecommerce platform and template allows you to easily merge your businesses into a single, simple to operate platform that improves the customer experience – and provides your business with cost-efficiencies that allow you to grow your business and spend less money doing it.

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About The Author

Tom McFadden

Tom McFadden is a creative brand copywriter, communications strategist and a person who is generally interested in things—which is why, he figures, he became a copywriter in the first place. As a Miva contributor, Tom explores the nuances of the digital marketing space. Tom resides in San Diego and spends his free time doing fun things, like writing.

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