Business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce companies face unique challenges based on their differing tactics for reaching customers and fulfilling orders. Historically, the standard operating procedures for B2B companies entailed complex procurement systems, layers of decision-making, and person-to-person interactions that slowed progress. Whereas, in the B2C digital marketplace, progress evolved more rapidly.

But today, the B2B e-commerce marketplace is expanding quickly – in fact, it’s projected to globally overtake B2C sales in total dollars. Despite their differing processes and evolutionary paths, some essential principles apply equally to both markets.

Whether your company sells to consumers or businesses, customers increasingly expect dynamic, user-friendly, digital solutions — especially in global trade.  You must customize your e-commerce plan to respond quickly and efficiently.  Here are three winning e-commerce strategies to help your B2C or B2B business thrive.  Check out the helpful infographic or click the image below for a quick overview.

Deliver Information Clearly

Although the B2B purchasing process involves input from different managers and departments, clear and simple digital platforms are just as important as they are for consumer shoppers. Consider two facts:

  • B2B buyers are also B2C shoppers; they expect the same smooth experience
  • 73% (Merit data) of B2B purchasers are tech-savvy millennials

For both B2C and B2B companies, you must present information succinctly.  For consumers, include up-front pricing information, clear shipping and returns policies, and accurate product descriptions.  Because 95% of e-shoppers are multitasking, many on mobile devices, sellers that don’t present information concisely risk losing potential buyers.

For B2B companies, buyers are processing a lot of information, researching online, and handling multiple projects. According to Forrester, 74% of business buyers do more than half of their research online — even when purchasing offline.  Your digital approach to B2B customers must be direct, because currently 15% of buyers waste time sorting through conflicting information.

Make it Easy to Invoice or Pay

It is critical that your payment processes are simple and straightforward, whether your customers are business buyers or consumers.  As a B2C company, you want to keep customers returning, appeal to new markets or international buyers and prevent shopping cart abandonment.  If instructions are too complicated, or local currency and payment methods are not displayed, buyers will leave your site. One estimate suggests that friction at the payment point leads to $236 billion in losses annually.

Be aware that B2B buyers are increasingly paying online, which means that regionally preferred forms of digital payment should always be accepted.

Embrace Self-Service

Digital commerce should remove barriers, increase speed and empower buyers. For B2C organizations, constantly improving self-service functions master that equation. International buyers must be able to make an immediate purchase and receive their goods promptly.  With international e-commerce, buyers don’t want their purchases slowed by distance, so sellers need to offer international express shipping options.

Although B2B buyers make their decisions after research and group discussion, they also prefer online tools.  According to a McKinsey survey, 86% of buyers would rather use self-service functions for simple transactions – instead of calling a sales rep.

Whether your company sells to consumers or businesses, user-friendly online tools and clear communication are the keys to your success.

What is your B2B or B2C e-commerce strategy? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.

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