If you manufacture any type of product, you likely run both a B2B and B2C aspect of your business. Single purchases of a product to a consumer are possible because of how popular e-commerce is today. While you once needed a middleman to effectively distribute a product, today you can sell it yourself and cut a step from the process.
Most companies today sell products to both consumers and businesses as a way to increase their revenue and build market share.
Experts predict that by 2022, online sales will reach about $700 billion. E-commerce grows each year and should continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Reaching both your B2B and B2C clients online requires a cart that can handle retail and wholesale prices and a way to register those with a wholesale license.
Another aspect of catering to both B2B and B2C is by offering services that both consumers and businesses want. Think about sites such as Walmart that now allow people to sell goods on its site, but they sell those items to consumers.
Rakuten is an example of a site selling to both consumers and businesses. Businesses can set up a store to sell their goods and consumers purchase items from the site. It offers three options for companies to partner with them — Sell on Rakuten, Become an Affiliate, or Advertise on Rakuten.
You only have so much of a marketing budget, so you'll have to decide how to split it up effectively. Marketing for B2B and B2C are different. When marketing to consumers, you want to give them a reason to purchase now and tap into their emotion. When selling to other businesses, you must inform the client about how your product or service can help them and be clear about the value proposition. Where you market also changes based on who you market to.
If you serve both B2C and B2B clients, take the time to create separate areas that cater to them. This allows you to customize the experience based on what information that client wants and what questions different kinds of customers have.
Shipley Energy supplies heating oil to both homes and businesses. To reflect the different needs, it separates its services into two categories — For Your Home and For Your Business. It then breaks down the services it offers for each, with a focus on the needs of most homeowners on one side and the specific needs of business on the other, such as fleet fueling. The text is a bit different for each type of customer as well.
When you serve consumers, the pricing is fixed for the most part. You might offer a sale here and there or free shipping with a specific order amount, but the fixed cost of the product remains the same. However, when you work with businesses, you might quote a different price depending upon the size of the company and how big of an order they send your way.
The easiest way to handle separate pricing structures is to ask businesses to contact you for a personalized quote. They can still connect via email or a form, but offering a custom quote allows you to review the specifics of the potential order and come up with the best offer possible that is competitive with other companies similar to yours.
When you unify your B2B and B2C processes, you have a better handle on overall inventory and delivery logistics. You can invest in better software and processes to track sales and shipping through all points of the process. Even if everything goes through a single department, you can still separate business and consumer orders by having different people in charge of those accounts.
Adobe Creative Cloud is an excellent example of a site that delivers digital goods based on the needs of both B2C and B2B clients. Individual users subscribe for $52.99 per month and access features for one person, but businesses can create a license management and deployment program for multiple employees. Prices vary based on needs, and the system varies slightly depending upon the requirements of the customer.
The technical and customer support needs of consumers is different from that of business owners. Take the time to adequately train staff to handle your different types of customers. It's smart to have two departments, since business needs are quite specific and different from consumer concerns. Make sure your customer support team is a well-trained machine that handles issues immediately and professionally.
Integrate both B2B and B2C operations to save money and effort. With a little foresight, you can serve both types of customers effectively. Having just one website lowers overall costs. Customer experience is enhanced as you get a firmer grip on the prices you can offer businesses and remain competitive.
There are some situations where it's best to separate the two different sides of your business and offer both a B2C and a B2B site and separate processes. However, there are still some marketing and customer service features you can integrate into a cohesive whole.
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