While many associate eCommerce platforms with consumer-oriented online stores, those represent just one niche of the overall market for modern solutions in this field. Many companies on the B2B (Business-to-Business) market rely heavily on advanced eCommerce platforms to satisfy all their needs on that front, and recent trends tend to lean heavily towards that use case, as opposed to B2C (Business-to-Consumer). A B2C eCommerce platform has many shortcomings as opposed to one designed specifically for the B2B market. It’s essential to start with the get-go’s right solution if you want to ensure that you’re presenting your business in the best light possible.

Targeting a Longer Process

B2B transactions tend to be very different from B2C ones, especially in the overall duration of the process and the relationship between a vendor and their customers. A buyer in this field is typically not interested in one-time transactions but rather looking to build a long-term relationship with a few select vendors they know they can trust. Each purchase is generally preceded by a lot of research, discussions with leading members and business partners, and negotiations with the vendor. A standard B2C platform cannot accommodate those factors by a long shot. 

This also extends beyond the actual purchase itself. A typical B2B transaction often implies a long-term partnership with personalised support, loyalty programs, discounts for regular buyers, and more. While some of these features may be found in some of the popular B2C eCommerce platforms on the current market, they often don’t go in enough depth to satisfy the average B2B vendor-buyer relationship’s needs. Even when they do, they might require extensive customisation to get to that point instead of B2B eCommerce software solutions designed to fulfil those needs right from the start. 

A Stronger Focus on Personalisation

A B2B store needs to have a much more personalised presentation to retain its customers’ interest. Things like customised catalogues and price lists or even a unique presentation of the available inventory adjusted for each buyer are not treated as luxury features but as the baseline industry standard. Most B2C eCommerce platforms approach personalisation differently, attempting to dynamically change their presentation to customers by analysing their interaction with the store.

In a B2B environment, you can expect that a buyer has already done their research regarding what they want to buy and what conditions they have for the deal, and you’ll want to make your presentation as close to those expectations as possible. This requires advanced controls that are not often found in B2C platforms, except through third-party plugins. Even then, the final result will never be as good as what a B2B platform can deliver, and it can do so with minimal effort required on the storeowner’s part. 

Flexible Pricing

The pricing structure of a B2B store is very different from what one would get from a B2C store. Due to those business relationships’ long-term nature, things like discounts based on purchase volume are the norm. Buyers may also negotiate their pricing terms in advance and expect to see that reflected in their shopping experience. This can sometimes be adjusted in a B2C platform, but with far less granularity, and often at the cost of having to jump through some hoops. With a good B2B eCommerce platform, those adjustments can be made on the fly for each affected customer, and they will be instantly reflected all across the storefront.

Unique Workflow for Each Customer

The buying process for B2B customers is longer and more involved than what a regular consumer typically goes through. Each company has its own set of rules regarding working with vendors and suppliers. It’s important to integrate those into your storefront, as opposed to requiring manual adjustments by a human operator for each purchase. For example, a specific customer might require the approval of two or more members of the company’s leadership team before an order can be submitted. With the help of a B2B eCommerce platform, you can integrate that requirement right into the purchasing process. This won’t just simplify things for you as the store’s owner, but it will also offer your customers a streamlined process that saves them time and money. Often, this is a major driving factor in deciding which B2B eCommerce platform to choose.

Easy Integration with the Company’s Infrastructure

A B2B store often has a much more complex infrastructure than a B2C one, involving things like a CRM, accounting systems, warehouse and inventory management tools, and more. Again, this is occasionally available in B2C platforms, but the level of customisation they typically offer is far below what you would need to satisfy your customers’ expectations. Many B2B eCommerce platforms are designed to offer native integration with popular solutions in all of those fields with just a few clicks, without requiring you to take things outside of the platform itself. This can simplify the system’s management requirements by a great deal and allow you to handle more complex orders with ease.

Detailed Specifications Instead of Heavy Promotion

As we mentioned earlier, B2B customers typically know what they are looking for ahead of time. When they reach your store, they won’t be enticed by flashy ads or other promotional materials. Instead, they are looking to confirm that your products meet the requirements of their current project. To this end, you should be able to offer easy access to detailed specification sheets, advanced search engines capable of comparing different features of the products you have listed, and an overall more in-depth overview of everything you’re selling. Getting to that point with a B2C system requires heavy customisation. In some cases, it’s not even possible without modifying the system itself, at which point you might as well jump to a dedicated B2B solution.

In the end, the Difference between a B2B and B2C eCommerce platform is too significant to warrant the use of the latter when you have plenty of viable options on the B2B market to pick from. Choosing the right B2B eCommerce platform can help you make sure that you can focus on setting up your store, organising your products and their descriptions, and all other important factors that concern the business itself, rather than tinkering with a system that will need constant adjustments to meet your needs.



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