What B2B Merchandisers Need to Know About B2C Sales

If your online B2B store is booming, expanding into B2C sales should be easy. You just offer items in smaller quantities at higher prices, right? Wrong. There are several key differences in B2C sales that you need to keep in mind as you’re building out your online store.

Consumers Need that WOW Factor

Is your online store ready for B2C sales? In the past, wholesale buyers sort of expected the trade-off between lower prices and less polished marketing. Wholesale catalogs were often printed on the cheap, with the glossy paper and full-color photography saved for the consumer market. Today, websites that are selling to both B2B and B2C consumers need the online equivalent of a swanky store. Particularly for apparel, gifts and discretionary items, consumers want the bells and whistles that will make them fall in love with your product. You want to encourage an impulse buy that could earn you repeat sales.

Even if your B2B site is taking off as it is, make sure it’s ready for prime time. Consumers are more likely to be shopping on mobile devices and they expect high-quality design, professional photography, crisp graphics and great video. Have your search engine marketing optimized? B2C sites often have a steep bounce rate with lower conversions. Your B2B business might have a more targeted audience, but you want to maximize the number of people in the door for your consumer site.

Utilize Tools that Work for B2C sales

The key to having a shopping site catered to both B2B and B2C is to take advantage of features that can be useful for all shoppers. B2B customers want a speedy ordering experience, with the ability to order specific sizes in different quantities. For example, Crown Prints uses Miva’s Attribute Quantity Ordering to allow their clients to select a T-shirt color and then order up to thousands of each size. The easy-to-use feature is equally helpful for community sports team managers who may be ordering only a few of each size.

B2C sales

Whatever you are selling, you’ll want to make sure you have multiple ways to access products. Online nursery Prairie Moon caters to professional landscapers who already have their catalog on hand with a Quick Order Form that gives the ability to add a product code for seeds, plants or tools. Consumers who don’t have the catalog and might not know their Aquilegia canadensis from their Asclepias speciose can browse through photos and common names.

B2C sales

List Style Ordering on Category Pages is useful for B2B clients who want to place large orders, and also make it easy for consumers to see a range of options and compare discounts for higher volume. At the online store for Clint Pharmaceuticals, both B2B and B2C shoppers can easily see options for sizing and styles of surgical gloves at various quantity levels.

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Separate Products Offerings

If you’re expanding into B2C sales, though, you may need to rethink your packaging and dramatically expand your SKUs. For example, you may want to show B2B shoppers options for different flavors of lip balms packed 24 to a case, but B2C shoppers will likely only buy one. Your store may want to offer white labeled items to B2B shoppers, without making them available to general consumers. With a B2B ecommerce platform like Miva, you can control what products each type of shopper sees.

Pick Your Pricing Levels

Your B2B customers expect – and require – discounting pricing. Fortunately, the Miva platform makes it easy to set group permissions that allow you to showcase wholesale prices and offerings that consumers never get to see. This allows you to define volume discounts for those buying by the case rather than individual items. It makes it easy for you to set wholesale pricing for retail stores – online or brick and mortar – who want to buy your items and then resell them. You can then decide whether it’s a percentage off the consumer price or a fixed dollar discount. To entice your consumer customers to buy, you can offer limited time coupon code promotions or loyalty reward discounts.

Select Your Shipping Methods

Consumers have grown accustomed to getting free shipping at a set threshold, and your shopping platform needs to be able to handle that calculation. But in exchange for cheaper pricing, your B2B customers are likely to be receiving their products by freight delivery that is charged to a customer account.

Get Paid Properly

B2C sales are actually easier than B2B when it comes to payment because they’re likely to pay by credit or debit card or options such as PayPal or AmazonPay. However, your wholesale customers may want to pay by check, purchase order or even Cash on Delivery.

Two Customer Types, One Platform

B2B and B2C customers can be different, but fortunately today it’s easy to set up an online store that can accommodate both of them. If you’re on the right platform, that is.

For information on Miva, visit www.miva.com

About The Author

Elisa Williams

Elisa Williams is a journalist and communications strategist who combines storytelling with solid research and analysis. A contributing author to the Miva Blog, Elisa has written for a wide array of consumer, business and technology publications, including Newsweek, Real Simple, Computer Life and Inc. Her marketing and content development work includes supporting technology companies that specialize in ecommerce, financial services and big data.

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