How to Create a Unified B2B and B2C E-commerce Website
Selling to both consumers and businesses is one way to gain an edge on the competition and increase your market share. However, figuring out the best method of selling to two very different audiences isn’t as easy.
Around 74 percent of small business owners indicate scalability is one of the most important factors for growing their businesses. Unifying your B2B and B2C business saves your company money and effort and allows you to scale up more easily than having two separate sites.
However, there are a few challenges with unifying both sides of your online business. Keep these eight elements in mind as you pull together both types of e-commerce into one platform.
1. Make a List of What’s the Same
Whether you sell to other businesses or directly to consumers, there are some similar elements of the process. Look at the journey each type of buyer takes through your site and list out what the similarities. Can you vary the number of items, such as through a wholesale discount, but the actual checkout process is the same? What elements differ between B2B and B2C orders? For example, you may need to add a line for B2B clients for tax exemption information.
ServiceMaster Restore offers home services for residential and commercial properties. They have one home page with the option to also navigate to “Residential Services” and “Commercial Services.” Users go one way or the other, depending upon their needs. However, combining both types of services creates an opportunity for increased profits. Business owners are often homeowners and vice versa.
2. Unify Your Inventory
Even though you might sell products to both B2B and B2C, your inventory systems can be consolidated, so you have a handle on what is in your warehouse at all times. Unifying your inventory allows you to see patterns in sales and ensures you always have the items on hand for both consumers and businesses. Integrating your online shopping cart with your database also keeps information in real time. If you have an offline sales department or store, your sales force will know what items are in short supply and what needs moved.
3. Highlight Varied Uses
When you serve different buyer personas, your product typically has multiple uses to different segments of society. One way of ensuring your site speaks to each of your different personas is by listing the industries you serve. While this might seem limiting at first glance, it doesn’t mean you won’t sell to others. Your goal is simply focusing on the main uses for your product or service.
EZ Dock offers dock solutions for a number of different types of clients. They highlight the various uses of their product with categories such as those looking for PWC ports, kayak launches, boat ports and swimming docks. Further down their landing page, they list some of the different types of industries using their docks including residential, commercial, government and industrial.
4. Hire Better Design People
A unified site keeps costs lower. This means you can invest more in your website design and hire the absolute best designers and marketers within your budget. With only one main site to maintain, you’ll try different methods and test them thoroughly to see what converts best with your target audience. Skilled UX designers will help you plan the best ways of reaching leads.
5. Enhance Customer Experience
The experience your customers have on your site (UX) impacts the reputation of your brand and whether users return to your site for future orders. With a unified site, you can focus on creating an amazing customer service experience. Look at elements users appreciate, such as live chat staffed with knowledgeable agents. Although there are many factors which improve CX, excellent customer support is a big indicator of how happy people will be when they leave your site.
Office Max caters to both consumer and business clientele. Throughout the site, they indicate you can take advantage of bulk pricing on things such as paper and printer ink. However, their customer service is integrated and includes multiple ways to get in touch with them. Because they integrate both types of audiences, they can create strong customer service that gives them a good reputation among both individuals and businesses.
6. Invest in Better Logistics
No matter what type of customer you serve, good logistics are one of the keys to keeping that customer with your brand and developing a sense of loyalty. Think about how Amazon does this as an example. They offer Prime shipping so their members get packages within a couple of days. Utilizing warehouses, they get packages out within minutes of the order being placed and then team up with the USPS and other shipping providers (including some of their own employees) to get packages delivered on time.
Your company may not be as big as Amazon, but that doesn’t you mean you can’t combine the logistics of both branches of your company to improve your shipping speeds. The first key involves your website design and combining shipping options into your shopping cart.
7. Narrow Your B2B Focus
The very nature of B2B sales means you target a narrow niche of customers, whereas B2C has a much wider base of potential buyers. Keep this in mind as you revamp your site for both B2B and B2C customers. What is the narrow niche for B2B and how can you define your value to potential clients?
Flexfire LEDs sells to both individuals and businesses. They use a grid system and list out some of the advantages of using their products and provide details for each use. For example, they have a section titled “Control Your Lights” and another titled “Freedom of Color.” Relevant images of their product in various locations, such as a bar or a living room show the various uses of each item. They further invite site visitors to contact them for project design support.
8. Find Your Brand Voice
One challenge of speaking to both types of customers at once is getting the tone right. However, if you have a specific voice for your brand, this becomes easier. While the topics that interest your B2B customers may differ from those that interest your B2C customers, your brand’s focus shouldn’t change. If your goal is to solve a specific problem, then your messaging should still reflect your goals and personality. You’ll offer content from two perspectives rather than one. Your storytelling should be more brand driven so all buyer personas relate to your content.
Look for ways of combining operations between B2B and B2C so you can reduce costs and improve results. Communicate between different departments to ensure you fully understand the best ways of marketing to each client base. Make notes about what meshes well and what must be kept separate — such as wholesale prices. Although there are challenges in combining B2B and B2C operations on one website, the benefits outweigh the risks.