Why B-to-B E-Commerce is Lagging Behind B-to-CJanuary 24, 2013 By Bob Barr
B-to-C e-commerce has radically transformed the modern marketplace, delivering big rewards to consumer-facing brands, with B-to-C e-commerce spending expected to surpass $1.25 trillion in 2013. But with few exceptions, B-to-B e-commerce has been less successful in capturing the attention (and wallets) of business buyers.
Nearly all consumer-facing e-commerce features translate to B-to-B and can be modified for more successful strategies. B-to-B shoppers are also B-to-C consumers, signifying that B-to-B brands must work from these strategies to achieve leadership positions in the marketplace.
Translating Successful B-to-C to B-to-B
In general, B-to-B e-commerce lags behind B-to-C e-commerce because B-to-B providers haven't effectively leveraged readily available features and capabilities offered by advanced e-commerce technology, including the following:
1. Personalization: Personalization serves up dynamic content matched to specific customer needs. B-to-C e-commerce providers have mastered personalization and do a remarkable job using it to significantly enhance conversions and cart size. For example, Amazon.com uses past purchases to show you similar products and customize your experience. The retailer also allows you to save shipping addresses and information for a streamlined checkout process.
Cookie storage is a very simple way for B-to-B brands to create product recommendations based on buyers’ unique shopping habits. However, B-to-B e-commerce sellers should also consider using more advanced personalization capabilities that enhance the online experience by pushing tailored product recommendations to business customers.
2. Robust search: Like B-to-C shoppers, B-to-B buyers want the ability to quickly locate specific items in a product catalog. In B-to-B e-commerce, large and complex product catalogs make it even more difficult to display a small number of relevant SKUs to shoppers using typical search behaviors.
By implementing an e-commerce platform with robust search functionality, B-to-B brands can significantly improve their ability to display the right products at the right times. The caveat is that the deployment of robust search in a B-to-B context may require modifications to address B-to-B-specific issues like custom pricing and the availability of customized product offerings in search results.
3. Optimized browsing experiences: The best B-to-C e-commerce sites (e.g., Amazon.com) feature highly optimized browsing experiences that streamline customers’ ability to browse and research products. At the same time, these sites also provide an exceptional experience for customers who prefer to rapidly locate and purchase specific products.