In less than two years B2B eCommerce will be more than double the size of B2C eCommerce, reaching $1.8 trillion domestically. B2C companies are paying attention, as they increasingly eye B2B eCommerce as one of their next expansion plays.
B2B eCommerce is an attractive market for consumer-facing companies for many reasons. Outside of the draw of a multi-trillion-dollar market, B2B deals tend to be larger dollar value, multi-year transactions that offer a healthy ROI. Additionally, B2B’s comparatively slow adoption of eCommerce best practices leaves an opening that B2C can leverage to its advantage.
However, there are important considerations that B2C companies should keep in mind before expanding into the B2B eCommerce space. Below are four trends on what B2C entry into B2B eCommerce will look like over the coming months and some tips on how companies can leverage these trends to get ahead.
B2C Uses Consumer-Friendly Platforms for a Competitive Edge
Over time, B2B buyers’ expectations have evolved to require an eCommerce experience that is similar to one they would experience in their off-duty lives as consumers. B2C companies looking to enter the B2B market can leverage their legacy strength of a tech-enabled, simple, and straightforward online buying experience. The ability to display real-time inventory levels, use detailed product descriptions, share peer reviews, and enable one-click purchases can help win market share with their user-friendly experience.
How to Get Ahead: The key for B2C’s to maximize their presence in eCommerce will be to apply the same rigor for customer insights to their B2B audience as they do for their consumers. This ensures the eCommerce platform meets the B2B customers’ needs and is aligned with their business goals.
B2C Must Reckon with Age-Old B2B Market Challenges
B2C’s might have an advantage over B2B companies when it comes to online user experience, but most B2C’s will have a steep learning curve to become familiar with the nuances of the B2B buying cycle. B2B transactions have longer sales cycles and frequently involve multiple decision makers with sometimes competing priorities. Budget availability can be finicky, and everyone expects quantifiable ROI for their purchase. B2C’s will likely turn to their formidable customer intelligence arsenals to address these challenges, but the overall low availability of B2B customer data will make building the customer analytics profiles difficult.
How to Get Ahead: Without troves of customer data, B2C companies who conduct extensive customer journey research including customer surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups, will develop a clear understanding of the nuances of their new B2B market.
Potential for Dynamic Pricing
Already adept at using dynamic pricing to spur impulse buying, B2C will experiment with ways to leverage dynamic pricing models within the B2B terrain to shorten the lengthy sales cycle. Researchers estimate that B2B companies can increase profitability by as much as 52 percent by adjusting from cost-based pricing to a more flexible pricing model. In many ways, B2B is well-suited for dynamic pricing models, as prices are not usually public and are already often customized for each individual interaction. Applying dynamic pricing to match with prospect budget or procurement cycles, or pricing based on company revenue band or competitor saturation are key areas to explore.
How to Get Ahead: Extensive Price Elasticity analyses can help companies determine how to price their product or service based on company size, industry, location, and a variety of other factors.
Targeting the High-Growth Industries
Several industries dominate B2B eCommerce – petroleum and petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and druggist sundries currently occupy the largest market share. However, durable goods, including motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and supplies, electrical and electronic goods, and machinery equipment are the highest growth industries, and are often a more natural expansion for B2Cs. National Van Lines, for example, went from strictly B2C involving direct customer sales for van rentals to facilitate moving, to B2B as it expanded relationships with agent partnerships and regional partnerships to prospect, close, and grow B2B relationships nationally and internationally.
How to Get Ahead: A Market Scan can help B2Cs identify the markets with the highest potential revenue streams for their particular offering.
Interested in learning more about the trends impacting B2C companies today? Download our Trends in Consumer Marketing Report