4 Key Differences in B2B and B2C Business Practices

Business to business (B2B) and business to consumer business practices do have many similarities. However, there are some fundamental differences which must be addressed when developing e-commerce, customer service, customer retention, and marketing strategies.

Talking with a client
photo credit: Highways England / Flickr

1. E-Commerce Practices

As the scope of internet interaction and sales increases, B2B e-commerce solutions will become a more powerful strategic opportunity to reach new clients. A greater number of companies are conducting their research and making purchases online than ever before, and this is only expected to increase over the coming years.

It is incumbent upon companies to change their business model to reach their target customers in an online environment. The B2C model has been far more willing to change and has quickly outpaced their B2B counterparts. The difference in marketing model is primarily that B2C companies rely on a large number of clients and B2B companies rely on fewer numbers of clients who are willing to pay more.

B2B companies have historically believed they needed to reach out and interact with their clients at a more personal level than the B2C companies. While this is still true, the e-commerce environment makes it possible to do this in an online environment with the proper technical resources in place.

2. Customer Service

Regardless of your business model, the basics of customer service are going to remain the same. Individuals will have problems with the product or service and they will want someone to be available to help them as quickly as possible. This is imperative for both short term and long term success.

However, there are some significant differences between B2B and B2C customer service that companies need to be aware of. B2B customer service representatives will likely need to deal with more than one person when resolving issues. This makes contact management central in the customer service model. Anyone working on an account needs to know who has been contacted and what role that person plays in making decisions about products and services.

helpful store staff
photo credit: Liz West

3. Customer Retention

Customer retention is equally important in both B2B and B2C. What people often overlook in their customer retention policies is that all B2B interactions are experienced by individual people. Many of the same strategies which are successfully implemented by B2C companies can be used in the B2B world. Don’t consider how to simply solve a business problem, help the person who is experiencing the problem feel understood and reach out to them directly.

However, it is important for B2B companies to remember that they often need to address the needs and concerns of multiple individuals to maintain a single customer. This is yet another reason contact management is integral to the efforts of B2B practices.

4. Effective Marketing

B2B sales are typically based more on logic than the emotion-driven purchasing decisions of B2C sales. This means that marketing efforts must engage consumers on both levels because there are individuals who make up the company. Their interest will be best obtained with something they can connect to on an emotional level but the final sale will only be made if the purchase has a logical purpose.

It is important for B2B marketers to also keep in mind the location of their potential clients. International clients may have significantly different emotional triggers and may also be swayed by different types of data.

By 2019, e-commerce in the B2B market is expected to be worth more than $1 trillion compared to the B2C market which is expected to be less than $500 billion. Now is the time to fine tune all business practices to ensure your company is poised to take advantage of this potential.