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9 Differences Between B2B and B2C eCommerce Websites

  • Surabhi Shukla
  • By  Surabhi Shukla
  • |
  • 87D32530-FD6E-468E-BB24-045278513D21 Created with sketchtool. 11 MIN READ
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  • 6BCC25D0-42B3-420B-8C28-C5D7EF3F6856 Created with sketchtool. Updated: October 27, 2021

Do you run (or are you thinking about starting) an eCommerce business? If so, your website is your most valuable marketing tool. Before you focus on any other form of advertising, you need to make sure your website is designed to convert.

Now, the approach you take toward optimizing conversions will vary considerably based on your target audience. Are you running a Business-to-Business (B2B) eCommerce website? Or are you running a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) eCommerce website?

What follows are 9 important differences between B2B and B2C eCommerce websites—differences rooted in the business models themselves. When you design an eCommerce website tailored to your business model, it will almost certainly impact your sales.

What is B2B and B2C eCommerce?

In the B2B (Business-to-Business) eCommerce model, a company (often a manufacturer or a wholesaler) sells to other businesses (often a retailer). The retailer, in turn, sells those products to end-consumers, adopting a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) model.

Of course, it’s not always that straightforward. A small manufacturer might adopt a direct-to-consumer model and sell their products to individuals, adopting a B2C model even though they’re the source of the goods. Picture a craftsperson who makes beeswax candles from their home and sells them to individual consumers. Likewise, a large retailer might sell their goods to businesses in bulk, like a furniture retailer selling office chairs to big companies by the hundreds. This would be a B2B model.

Many businesses have both a B2B and a B2C model. Others adopt a B2B2B or a B2B2C model, where the supply chain passes through more than one vendor before reaching its final destination.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, it’s not too complicated. Here are some real-world examples of each model. What’s important to understand is your business model should shape your website’s design and structure, along with the marketing copy you use to reach your audience(s).

B2B eCommerce Example: Symantec

Symantec sells anti-virus software that Apple uses to scan its internal infrastructure and protect its business data.

Symantec b2b example

B2C eCommerce Example: Walmart

Walmart buys from wholesalers and manufacturers around the world, and they turn around and sell products to consumers (both in their retail shops and online, through their website).

Walmart b2c example

B2B and B2C eCommerce Example: IBM

You’re no doubt familiar with IBM’s B2C model since they market their personal computers to end consumers. IBM also has, however, plenty of teams dedicated to corporate sales, negotiating bulk purchases for all sorts of computer equipment. In fact, that’s how IBM began (hence the name, International Business Machine). The so-called “Personal Computer” or PC was an afterthought for IBM.

IBM b2b and b2c example

B2B2B Example: Apple

Here’s where things get interesting. Apple sells iPhones to AT&T (that’s the B2B component). AT&T then turns around and resells those phones to businesses that distribute iPhones to all their employees, bundled with an AT&T corporate service contract (another B2B transaction).

Apple B2B2B example

B2B2C Example: Alibaba

Alibaba is an online wholesaler that is famous for selling products to online retailers (B2B), who in turn sell those products to end consumers (B2C). While many of these eCommerce retailers don’t have their own branding and rely on drop-shipping (which isn’t a true B2B2C model), some actually do have their own branding. What they do is white label these products, such as a stainless steel water bottle, so the eCommerce company can make the brand their own (with their own packaging, labels, etc.). This is a B2B2C model.

Alibaba B2B2C example

Why Does Any of This Matter?

These different labels matter because, as we’ll soon see, how you market your products will vary greatly based on your business model.

Sure, there’s cross-over in each model, but think about how Apple might market its products to AT&T differently. Rather than thinking about how the end-user (Steve the Account Manager) feels about his company-assigned iPhone’s latest features, the AT&T sales rep cares about their clients’ business case for purchasing iPhones and AT&T contracts in bulk. In turn, if Apple wants to sell to AT&T, they’ve got to think about the AT&T buyer’s needs—and how they can help AT&T close high-value business sales using Apple products.

In the end, Apple will take a very different approach toward reaching their B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and B2B2B customers.

B2C eCommerce in Action: 2XU

2XU is an Australian sportswear retailer that expanded to the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and Hong Kong after successfully dominating the domestic market.

To aid their international expansion, 2XU turned to Net Solutions to create a comprehensive eCommerce solution.

Read the case study to learn more.

The Current State of B2B and B2C eCommerce

Covid-19 substantially changed the eCommerce world, with brick-and-mortar shops entering the eCommerce market in droves during the lockdowns.

Here’s a Statista survey that breaks down online Sales in the US across B2B and B2C channels.

Statista survey on sales data for b2b and b2c in 2020

Both B2B eCommerce and B2C eCommerce are poised for growth. According to MarketWatch, the global B2B eCommerce market is expected to grow from $7.6 billion USD to $13.6 billion by 2027, with an annual growth rate of 8.5%. Meanwhile, the B2C eCommerce market is expected to grow annually at 9.5% over the next ten years, and it’s currently valued at $9.6 trillion.

70 percent of B2B decision-makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve, or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27 percent would spend more than $500,000.McKinsey

Primary Attributes of B2B and B2C Business Models

Okay, so what are the differences between each model, generally speaking?

B2B business models:

  • Serve fewer buyers
  • Handle high-value, low-volume sales
  • Have negotiable price points
  • Feature longer sales cycles since so much money is on the line
  • Focus on long-term buyer-seller relationships

B2B eCommerce in Action: GWA Group

A leading building fixture supplier for more than 30 years, GWA owns and oversees a wide range of popular brands, including Caroma, Methven, Dorf, and Clark. The company supplies retailers, who in turn resell these products to end-consumers.

Net Solutions helped GWA Group modernize their tech stack to streamline their B2B eCommerce efforts.

Read the case study to learn more.

B2C business models:

  • Serve far more buyers
  • Deal in low-value, high-volume sales
  • Prices are almost never negotiable, but coupons are often available
  • Rapid sales cycle, especially for cheaper goods

Another way to put it — B2B customers purchase to improve the business, and B2C customers purchase to improve their lives.

difference between b2b and b2c funnel stages

Difference Between B2B and B2C Websites

The difference between B2B and B2C eCommerce websites are often subtle, but they make a big difference.

Difference between B2B and B2C


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A website is the first point of contact for buyers. It should be designed in a way that the buyer can understand the business model at a glance. Here are 9 differences between B2B and B2C websites.

1. Product Supporting Content

A product supporting content describes anything that helps buyers (business reps or consumers) make a decision.

a. Product Supporting Content in B2B

While B2B sales often include a lot of handholding, there’s been a recent shift toward enabling buyers to learn about products on their own. This makes it essential to add all the necessary resources and information upfront, so the professional buyer can learn as much as possible on their own.

B2B websites include:

  • Comprehensive buying guides
  • In-depth product videos
  • Articles and blog posts that go deep (like this one)
  • Easy access to a sales rep when the buyer needs one
  • Case studies outlining customer success stories (view our case studies to see how they can help buyers make decisions)

b. Product Supporting Content in B2C

B2C customers are individual buyers, and their decision does not typically depend on or affect others too much. They have less complicated considerations when looking for a product online. For instance, if a shopper is looking for a “Party Dress,” they will look at its reviews, color, price, and whether the dress complements their style.

B2C websites include:

  • Clear, high-resolution images
  • Discounting
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Social Proof in the form of customer testimonials and review videos
  • Product features and highlights

B2B2C eCommerce in Action: Euro Cart Parts

Euro Car Parts is a leading auto parts dealer that sells car parts to both mechanics as well as end-consumers. They provide more than 15,000 vehicle parts, for all major brands, to buyers across mainland Europe and the United Kingdom.

Net Solutions designed and built a powerful, multi-channel eCommerce experience for Euro Car Parts that helped their business thrive.

Read the full case study to learn more.

2. Tailored Homepages

The homepage isn’t always the first page a buyer sees when they reach your website, especially for eCommerce companies. Often they bypass the home page and end up on a particular product page based on their Google search. That said, they’ll often check out your homepage to see whether you’re trustworthy. When they do that, your brand needs to align with their expectations.

a. B2B Homepage:

A B2B homepage usually follows a minimalistic design, with no clutter.

B2B websites include:

  • Simple, straightforward design
  • Highly informative content (since B2B buyers dig deep)
  • Images of the main product/products in the hero section
  • Quick order systems for buyers who know the “product name” or SKU

how a B2B eCommerce website design looks

b. B2C Homepage:

A B2C homepage tends to be more flashy. Discounts, special offers, and sales take center stage, pushing the buyer to convert.

B2C websites include:

  • Sales, discounts, and offers in the form of carousels
  • Catchy and creative headlines
  • A vibrant, flashy homepage

Example of how a b2c ecommerce website design looks

3. Call-to-Action (CTA)

The Call-to-Action (CTA) is where you tell the buyer to take the next step. Usually, it’s in the form of a button with text on it, like “Buy Now” or “Book a Demo.”

The CTA on B2B eCommerce websites is usually more to-the-point, while B2C website CTAs can be more creative. It’s best to A/B test different CTAs to see what gets the highest conversion rate.

a. B2B Call-to-Action Example

B2B CTA example

b. B2C Call-to-Action Example:

Nike's CTA example for B2C

4. Level of Customer Support

Customer support is essential in both B2B and B2C business setups. It’s as essential, in fact, as a sales rep who greets you at a brick-and-mortar store and offers to help.

a. B2B Customer Support Level

Though B2B sellers are now relying more on the self-service model, support is still required, especially with new prospects and large orders.

B2B websites include:

  • Active customer support across the checkout process
  • Live chats and video chats to answer business-oriented FAQs
  • After-sale customer care to handle reorders and concerns

B2B Commerce Report


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b. B2C Customer Support Level

The B2C customer makes quicker decisions since less money is at stake (and nobody’s job is on the line). Customer service is essential for both B2B and B2C businesses, but for the latter, inquiries are limited and companies usually try to solve them in minutes rather than hours, days, or weeks.

B2C websites include:

  • 24/7 customer support to answer the common questions
  • A post-sales system that handles returns/complaints/exchanges
  • Availability of self-serve bots as a first-line of defense, answering simple questions and reducing customer service costs

5. The Checkout Process

The last step of the customer journey is the checkout process, where again, the difference between B2B and B2C is often clear.

a. B2B Checkout Process

For B2B websites, the checkout process should be a mix of automated, pre-programmed checkout steps coupled with live human assistance available at a moment’s notice. This is key since again, there’s usually a lot at stake with B2B sales.

B2B eCommerce websites include:

  • Human interaction: Product demos, phone calls, and video chats that are an active part of the checkout process
  • Payment options such as pay on credit, credit cards, ACH payments, and checks
  • A one-click reordering system for repeat orders

b. B2C Checkout Process

In a B2C business setup, the steps to completing a purchase are minimal. The customer adds the product to the cart, applies discount coupons, validates the delivery address, makes the payment, and receives an acknowledgment that the order went through.

B2C eCommerce websites often include:

  • Ability to add more products from a wishlist
  • Nudges along the way to avoid abandoned shopping carts
  • Payment options availability, (e.g., credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets, CODs)
  • Ability to add coupons and referral codes

difference between b2b and b2c checkout

6. Pricing Model

B2C pricing is almost always consistent, aside from coupons or special offers. B2B businesses, on the other hand, have variable pricing models, where prices drop based on purchase size. This leads to a different set of best practices when it comes to website design and copy.

a. B2B Pricing

B2B websites often don’t show their pricing up front on the page, since prices are often negotiable. Once buyers log into their accounts, that’s when they’ll typically have access to their own pricing model.

B2B websites include:

  • Customized pricing for loyal customers
  • “Request a Quote” Call-to-Action
  • An automated pricing calculator to instantly show price changes based on order size

b. B2C Pricing

Most of the time, pricing customization in the B2C pricing model comes in the form of discounts, such as coupons, sales, and special offers.

B2C websites include:

  • Upfront pricing
  • Transparency and consistent pricing (aside from discounts)
  • Fields to enter coupon codes on checkout pages

7. Minimum/Maximum Order Quantity

Minimum/maximum quantity defines the quantity size of an item when placing an order. B2B allows bulk purchases, whereas a B2C customer can add limited quantities (usually specified by the seller) of the same item.

a. B2B Minimum Order Quantity

A B2B eCommerce business focuses on the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) parameter, i.e., the website needs to define the minimum threshold for a B2B purchase.

For instance, Alibaba mentions the MOQ parameter along with every product listed in the search results category.

B2B websites include:

  • Set a parameter for “minimum order quantity” per product
  • Include the “minimum order amount” parameter required to complete an order
  • Set “quantity in multiples” requirement for products sold in packages

Alibaba's minimum order quantity example for b2b ecommerce

b. B2C Maximum Order Quantity

For a B2C transaction, defining the maximum quantity threshold for placing an order is essential. As soon as the order exceeds a set value, an alert message appears stating that the order quantity has been exceeded.

For instance, Amazon supports a consistent drop-down menu that defines the maximum quantity for an item.

B2C websites:

  • Set a parameter for “maximum order quantity” per product
  • Generate an alert message once the order quantity exceeds the set quantity

Amazon's example for maximum order quantity

8. Shipping Options

Shipping options define the shipping method and delivery speed. B2B and B2C businesses provide different options.

a. B2B Shipping Options:

The order size for B2B is higher, which makes one-day delivery unfeasible.

B2B Shipping Methods:

  • LTL (Less than Truckload) Freight Carrier
  • Warehouse Pickup
  • Standard Delivery

b. B2C Shipping Methods:

The order size is low, which makes the order eligible for standard and commonly available shipping methods.

B2C Shipping methods:

  • One-day delivery
  • In-Store Pickup
  • Same-day delivery
  • Free Shipping

9. Payment Options

A B2B business tends to have specialized payment methods, while B2C businesses use the payment methods we’re all familiar with (credit cards, PayPal, etc.).

a. B2B Payment Methods:

B2B payment methods include:

  • Pay on Credit: The B2B eCommerce business allows customers to pay later, which is often managed by a third party. A credit amount is allocated based on the businesses’ credit rating and past payment history.
  • Paper Checks: A simple, traditional method where a physical check is sent to the B2B eCommerce business, which they can deposit in their bank account.
  • Credit cards: Yes, B2B companies sometimes receive payment with bank-issued credit cards.
  • ACH Payments: This method allows for automated payments, where the money is directly transferred from one account to another.

B. B2C Payment Methods:

B2C payment methods include:

  • Credit cards: Easily the most common payment method for online retailers.
  • Debit cards: Paying instantly through personal bank accounts.
  • Mobile Wallets: This is an advanced payment method, where the payments are transferred from one account to another using mobile payment apps.
  • COD (Cash on Delivery): This involves paying in cash once the order is received.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL): This involves buying now and paying the full balance later, within a predetermined timeline. In this method, the amount is split between installments, which may or may not include interest fees.

payment methods used for b2b vs b2c

B2B vs. B2C Websites: A Quick Summary

Here’s a summarized table that highlights the differences between B2B and B2C eCommerce websites.

Business Model
Business to Business (B2B)
Business to Consumer (B2C)
1. Target Audience Other businesses End-users
2. Decision-makers (and Decision-influencers) Researchers, managers, sales reps, brokers Individual end-users
3. Purchase Quantity Bulk orders Small orders
4. Pricing Dynamic and negotiable (price drops as order size increases) Consistent
5. Customer Service Assistance Throughout the stages of the customer journey After-sales or pre-sales assistance. Usually one-time
6. Product Supporting Content Case studies, product videos, explainer videos, buying guides High-resolution images, Product videos, features, discounts
7. Call to Action (CTA) Simple, straight-forward, and Business-centric (how the product will benefit the business on the whole) Engaging and user-centric (how the product will benefit the individual)

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between B2B and B2C websites is absolutely essential if you want to build a business that maximizes conversions. And who doesn’t?

Here at Net Solutions, we’ve designed countless websites for both B2B companies and B2C companies (along with every other variation on these models that you could imagine). Before we begin any project, our Business Analysts sit down with our clients to understand their products, target audiences, business models, and workflows.

Do you have an eCommerce website you’re hoping to improve? Or an eCommerce business you’d like to launch? Schedule a free consultation and we’ll get the ball rolling.

Request Free Consultation

Build Positive Brand Impressions With an On-Point B2B/B2C eCommerce Website


Surabhi Shukla

About the Author

Surabhi is a proficient PHP developer and has worked on frameworks and CMS like Joomla, CakePHP, Drupal, and Magento. She is also a Magento certified developer and Developer Plus. When not at work, she relaxes by listening to music and is an avid reader.

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