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7 Key Differences Between B2B Transactions and Consumer Purchases

Topics: B2B eCommerce, Sales & Marketing

Not all purchases are created equal. 

While it’s true that B2B transactions and B2C purchases are both fueled by human decision-makers, B2B is not B2C, and vice versa. There are clear demarcation lines between the two that businesses, marketers, and sales and support professionals must acknowledge to craft a more compelling customer experience strategy.

Customer experience, regardless of the customer type you serve, is the ultimate brand differentiator and can drive your sales profits to new heights.

That said, here are seven key differences between B2B payments and consumer purchases to always keep in mind.

B2B transactions vs. B2C purchases

Revenue per customer

B2B transactions in the manufacturing/production sector may involve raw materials and subcomponents, versus just one B2C transaction involving, say, a gardening implement. 

A B2C customer may buy a pair of shoes from you today and then forget about you until they need a new pair. But that need still is no guarantee they will buy from you again. Whereas a shoe manufacturer will keep buying your leather, as long as they see you as a reliable supplier partner offering quality products at reasonable prices. 

differences of B2B purchases
Image source

Also, in B2C, rarely does a customer spend millions of dollars with just one company. So it’s only natural for B2B businesses to take care of the 20% that bring in 80% of their sales revenues.

Product price

The product price for B2C purchases is pretty much standardized for everyone, with very little room for customized pricing. In B2B, however, the same product may be offered to different customers at different price points for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Are they a preferred or high-value business customer?
  • How many products are they ordering?
  • What are the agreed-upon payment terms?
  • Will they be buying the same number of products on a recurring basis?

Purchasing process

B2C customers are free to decide which household product brand to purchase. They can switch from brand X to brand Y just because, and that’s perfectly okay. In B2B, the decision-making process is much more complex. Decisions cannot be made without much thought because the experience of an entire body of users rests on those decisions.

End users are not purchasers. The buying decision is made not just by one entity but by a group of users and financial decision-makers. For example, a digital marketing agency must first compare and contrast several white-label analytics software on a number of fronts before deciding which one has the best features at the best price possible.

Payment schemes

Payment schemes are more straightforward with B2C transactions. For example, a customer goes to an eCommerce site, browses their product catalog, selects a product, pays electronically, and then waits for the product to be delivered to their home address. 

This is generally not the case with B2B, particularly if you’re a B2B seller allowing purchases on credit. An example scenario: A B2B customer goes to your eCommerce site, selects the products they need from your catalog of products, places an order, and arranges shipment. Instead of processing their payment at checkout, you send them an invoice detailing the amount they owe you and the payment terms and conditions

eCommerce setup

B2B organizations that accept payments at checkout can set up their eCommerce sites the way B2C eCommerce businesses set them up, where customers browse products, select a product, enter their address details, select the most viable delivery option, and then pay for the product using either a debit or credit card.  

This setup, however, doesn't work for B2B transactions that require a more elaborate framework. More advanced B2B eCommerce systems possess the ability to integrate with other systems, such as invoicing, accounting, and record management systems, and accept orders in various formats, including email, documents, and other forms of electronic orders. 

The infrastructure sometimes also integrates the systems of supplier and logistics partners to make the procurement process, from inventory management to delivery, more seamless and efficient. 

Depth of support

With B2C purchases, the customer often requires very little to no sales assistance. Whereas in B2B, customers may need ongoing support engagements at different points, such as while implementing a large project. 

B2B Components business
Image source

Customer relationships

Because B2B transactions are often large and recurring, post-purchase customer relationships are crucial, which explains why B2B companies assign dedicated account managers to assist their customers, address their issues, and build relationships. 

And since dynamic organizations are prone to restructuring where people advance from one position to another as they move up the career ladder, your company must nurture relationships not just with a position but with individuals, particularly the decision influencers.

Final word

B2B transactions and B2C purchases are different in a lot of ways. Understanding these differences allows you to tailor your sales, support, and customer engagement approaches accordingly.

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