If the online store is successfully developing, and the volume of purchases already allows you to purchase large quantities of goods from the suppliers of your suppliers, then it’s time to think about the development of the B2B direction. After all, selling in bulk, even if it is small, is much more profitable and easier than doing retail.
But entrepreneurs often do not understand that it is wrong to combine B2B and B2C trading on one site, because these two areas have many marketing and other differences. It is about how Internet platforms for retail and wholesale differ , we will talk in this article.
What is B2B and B2C?
Let’s analyze the basic differences between Internet sites operating according to the B2B and B2C scheme.
In a B2C online store, the seller demonstrates goods to everyone at market prices. Everyone can go to the site, order a product, pay for it and choose one of the proposed delivery options. In such an online store, customers are ordinary people who do not count on long-term cooperation or individual discounts. The conditions are the same for everyone.
The B2B online store sells goods at a wholesale price. Although sometimes the recommended retail prices are put on the price tags themselves, and the buyers themselves calculate the wholesale, based on the discount provided to them.
On the B2B portal, wholesale sales are carried out to partners, distributors, online stores operating under the dropshipping scheme. Here you can also buy some goods at retail, but the seller must see the systematic nature of the purchases, otherwise the discount will be canceled.
B2B and B2C platforms have completely different target audiences , for which their interface and functionality must be adapted accordingly. Therefore, before starting wholesale sales, it is necessary to analyze what functions an online store should have in order to meet the needs of wholesalers.
Differences between B2B and B2C
Next, we will analyze the 10 main differences between B2B and B2C online stores.
1. Pre-authorization on the site
Any user can surf and buy goods on a regular B2C site. Even when placing an order, just enter your contact details and there will be no problems with payment and delivery.
On a B2B portal, things are somewhat different. Of course, anyone can go to the site and see what it sells and what terms of cooperation it offers. Otherwise, how would the site find customers? But all procedures related to placing orders, viewing prices, finding out balances, and the like, become available only after authorization.
To become a full-fledged member of a b2b site, you usually need to send an appropriate application with documents confirming the status of a retailer. Online store owners need to make sure that you have the ability to resell their products. In addition, access restriction allows store managers not to be distracted by requests from random site visitors.
2. Complex personal account
The user’s personal account on the B2C platform is quite simple. Online stores do not bother their customers with entering data, so they often only ask for their full name, phone number, and delivery address. Also here, characteristic of the personal account are the order history, wish list, viewed products and other information generated when using the site.
The personal account of a B2B site user needs to be made more complicated. The following additional options should be provided here:
- Access control. If the LC is issued to a legal entity, then the accountant and the director may have different rights to view information. This leads to the need to introduce two-stage identification.
- The ability to switch between multiple subaccounts belonging to different legal entities.
- Detailed order history analytics, allows you to view not only a specific delivery but also analyze an array of orders for a certain period.
3. Ordering out-of-stock items
On B2C sites, in the absence of a popular product, the product card is usually kept active, with a notification that this model is not available. In addition, the interface often has a “Notify about receipt” button, by clicking on it and entering your contact details, you can receive a message about the receipt of products.
In a B2B online store, it makes sense to expand this functionality in order to understand the scope of customer needs. It is necessary that customers can leave requests for the purchase of goods, regardless of their availability in the warehouse. At the same time, it is important that the online store itself prescribes approximate delivery dates on the product card.
Forming requests for temporarily out-of-stock products creates a number of advantages:
- Customers can plan purchases here instead of going to competitors.
- Understanding the need for a product allows an online store to optimize the volume of purchases.
- Proper distribution of production resources in the independent production of goods.
4. Directory structure
The task of an ordinary online store is to get the user to buy a product, so a lot of attention is paid to the product card interface.
On B2B sites, the needs of visitors are somewhat different: here, first of all, convenient search and quick surfing in the catalog are important. This is achieved in the following ways:
- Possibility to download catalogs by categories, including in Excel format. They should display all articles , their differences, prices and stock balances.
- Adding a “Similar Products” block under the product card so that customers can choose an alternative if the desired model is not available.
- Product listings in search results should not contain large photos. Also, the client should be able to quickly scroll through the positions. It is allowed to design search results in a tabular form.
5. Individual pricing
For all visitors to the B2C online store, a single price of the goods must be set. But for wholesalers, of course, everything is different.
On the B2B portal, each buyer has his own individual discount. The pricing system here can be transparent or closed – it does not play a big role. The main thing is that customers are satisfied with their price.
It is standard practice to publish base price levels based on order quantity, while still allowing the option to apply for an additional discount. It is important to make it clear to customers that under certain circumstances they can count on a discount. Such applications should be considered as soon as possible.
6. Information about stock balances
People in B2C online stores rarely buy two items at once, so it is not important for them to know the amount of stock left. After all, if the product card is active, then one product is guaranteed to be available.
For a wholesaler, information about the availability of a certain quantity of goods is critical. After all, he, too, can collect orders and take an advance payment, focusing on the commodity balances of his supplier. Note that if the model has different sizes or colors, information on each article should also be available to customers.
If an online store has several warehouses in different parts of the country, then it is advisable to indicate in the catalogs which warehouses the products are located in. This is necessary so that customers can at least roughly understand the delivery time.
7. Units of measurement and packaging
In wholesale B2B stores, a number of products are not sold at retail, so their units of measurement must be appropriate. For example, few wholesalers sell socks by the piece, usually they come in a pack of 6-12 pairs. Therefore, the price on the site may be indicated specifically for the set.
Naturally, the item name should indicate exactly how many products are in the package , so that the client can, if desired, calculate their retail price.
It is also important to indicate how the shipped goods are packed: in a box, on a pallet, in bulk or in another way. This will allow the customer to think about the quantity of the order and its delivery options to the warehouse. For example, when subsequently sending an order directly to the Wildberry marketplace, it is desirable that it be in its “native packaging”. It is better for an entrepreneur to take several positions more, but he will be sure that the goods will arrive in a properly packaged form.
8. Document flow
The chain of sales of an ordinary online store ends at its client. Their buyer will no longer resell the product, which means he does not need to comply with the terms of consumer protection law, certification rules, tax regulations, and the like. In fact, a B2C store must provide the buyer only with a fiscal receipt and an instruction manual for the product that comes with the kit .
The situation with sales in the B2B segment is different. Here, each buyer must send a complete package of documentation: waybills, certificates, declarations of conformity and similar documents that the seller must have when checked by the relevant authorities.
Also, do not forget that when trading with marked goods, it is necessary to transfer electronic invoices signed by the seller’s EDS. Therefore , it is desirable that an electronic document management module be provided in your personal account .
9. Request processing module
Most of the typical entrepreneur’s time is spent solving problems. When communicating with suppliers, in particular with B2B online stores, there are also quite a lot of questions: there is no required quantity of products in the warehouse, a sorting has arrived, some of the goods turned out to be defective. In retail with ordinary consumers, this happens much less often.
To help customers resolve their issues, and most importantly, reduce their level of nervousness and dissatisfaction with the service, it is necessary to provide a call tracking function in your personal account.
It is necessary that each client understands in real time when his question will be considered. You can not ignore the complaints or requests of your customers for days on end. The answer must be given either at the time established by the rules, or at the time specified in the call tracking block.
A wholesale client needs to be made as loyal as possible due to fast service, because he makes a profit constantly, and not one-time, like most buyers of simple online stores.
10. Having a personal manager
Everyone loves personal service, especially businessmen. Therefore, each wholesale buyer on the B2B site should have his own manager, who is always in touch. Forget about non-personalized chats, otherwise, your customers will find other, more customer-oriented providers.
The personal manager must be available by phone at least during working hours. Naturally, he will not be able to solve all the issues, but it is entirely within his competence to control the course of their solution.
The above lists only basic recommendations for creating an interface and personal customer accounts on B2B sites. In addition, when wholesale trade, it is necessary to take into account its other differences from retail. After all, a clear understanding of the needs and values of your target audience, that is, entrepreneurs like you, will create the most comfortable conditions for sales and ensure business success.