B2B ecommerce or business-to-business ecommerce is the commercial activity taking place between businesses. B2B ecommerce differs from retail ecommerce in the sense that while the customer in the retail ecommerce is a person, the customer in B2B ecommerce is a business.
While retail businesses started switching to ecommerce much earlier, most B2B businesses are still lagging behind retail businesses. Up to now B2B businesses relied more on one-to-one relationships with customers rather than reaching them online. But the ecommerce scene is changing rapidly for B2B businesses.
During the Covid-19 crisis B2B businesses started having more difficulties reaching their customers with the conventional methods. Because it became harder to have a conversation with the customer. Customers on the other hand started searching for their needs online. This is both because it was more convenient in the pandemic and also because of the disruptions in the supply chain they faced a need to find new suppliers rapidly in order to sustain their businesses. The fastest way was to reach new suppliers online.
Covid-19 is not the sole reason behind the rise of B2B ecommerce. There was already a shift towards ecommerce, because the B2B buyers are getting more and more composed of new generations and these new generations, especially the millennials are relying more on the internet for business. The Covid-19 crisis only accelerated this shift, most likely for the coming years after the pandemic.
The shift to online businesses and ecommerce was also strong for retail businesses but they managed well because they already had online sales channels and served their customers easily. However for most B2B businesses the disruption in supply channels became a lost opportunity. A small percentage of B2B businesses had the ability to reach the buyers online with their online sales channels.
Difference between retail and B2B ecommerce
There are many differences between selling to a business and to an end customer:
In retail prices are transparent while in B2B prices are negotiable
In retail a customer adds the items to his/her basket and proceeds to checkout, while in B2B the products may be modified, extra features can be added and all these are negotiable.
In retail customers generally checkout with their credit cards or online payment methods, while in B2B payments are generally made by bank transfers and also terms are negotiable.
In retail customer decisions are more emotional while in B2B decisions are more rational.
Because of these differences the standard ecommerce platforms which are developed to serve the needs of retail businesses don’t solve the problems of B2B sellers. B2B businesses which try to move online get frustrated by the lack of features they need in the most common ecommerce platforms.
Paccommerce ecommerce platform is built with the needs of B2B businesses in mind to bring them online with the minimal effort and as fast as possible. Because in the time of rapid shift to online sales every day counts.