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What is the Design Difference Between B2B and B2C eCommerce Sites

What is the Design Difference Between B2B and B2C eCommerce Sites
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Design Differences Between B2C and B2B Ecommerce Sites

To design a high-performing website, you need to understand your target audience and the best way to reach it. Both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) ecommerce websites have the same agenda — make a sale. But the means toward that goal are somewhat different.

  • For B2C companies, brand awareness is the No. 1 priority. A recognizable brand (think about this when choosing your domain name) with a strong online presence = a higher share of the total addressable market.
  • For B2B companies, the top priority is lead generation. With a niche market and longer purchase cycles, B2B brands need to keep a steady pipeline of warm leads.

Let’s take a look at what this means design-wise.

1. Differences in customer intent.

Both B2B and B2C purchases are sparked by a need. But the underlying motivations behind those needs are different.

B2B customer intent is driven by business priorities and backed by a group of other people (stakeholders, teams, company’s customers, end-users). With many people to please, the product research timelines are longer, and the list of requirements for evaluating products is more detailed. That’s why B2B ecommerce websites dwell more on converting top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) and middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) visitors to prospects and then turning them into customers using a mix of online (email marketing, eBooks, social media, online demos) and offline sales (phone consultations, in-person demos, etc.) strategies.

B2C shoppers act on an immediate need. While most shop around too, comparing product specs and prices, their average time spent at every stage of the sales life cycle is shorter. Unlike B2B buyers who allocate more time to data-based product evaluation and consideration, B2C folks often act on impulse and thus are more receptive to various cognitive triggers, activated by our bias:

Effective conversion rate optimization tactics, used by B2C retailers, leverage these biases in design to sway purchase decisions.

2. Purchase process.

More people are involved in the B2B buying process, including end-users and the purchasing agents/decision-makers. An ecommerce website is a facilitating tool that has to inform, support and demonstrate how your products can meet all the organization’s needs through content, interactive on-site tools and supporting marketing assets. Remember: your ultimate goal is to generate leads, not root for an immediate sale.

In the B2C space, purchase decisions are often emotional and event-driven. The coffee machine is broken? Ok, I need a new one. Oh, those shoes look nice. Where can I buy them?

Most B2C consumers are in a constant state of product exploration and in-the-background evaluation. When they discover a good offer, they are almost ready to snatch it. In that sense, B2C ecommerce websites need to facilitate discovery and feed into that sense of urgency.

3. User experience.

User experience is equally essential for B2B and B2C shoppers, but it has to account for differences in intent and purchase process. Nielsen group identifies five important differences in UX requirements for B2B and B2C websites:

  1. B2B design must accommodate longer content to support long decision-making and sales process.
  2. All B2B content has to speak to two target audiences — “choosers” (decision-makers) and end-users.
  3. B2B product information needs to be longer, more comprehensive and include a clear overview of integrations, capabilities and regulatory requirements.
  4. Both B2B and B2C customers are price-conscious. But B2B pricing scenarios are more complex. Provide B2B buyers with different pricing ranges variations, pay-per-usage scenarios, or calculators to facilitate decision-making.
  5. Like B2C stores, B2B websites cater to several customer segments, varying in size, industry, and operational budgets. Thus, B2B websites need to design a more diverse, audience-based navigation to cater to all targets.

When designing an ecommerce platform, a B2B organization must do everything in its power to improve its website’s appearance and design to provide the most exceptional user experience possible. This can be achieved through:

  • Ease of Use. Everything on the website must be easy to find. The speed and convenience with which a customer can view the site is essential to the buying process.
  • Logos and reviews. A diverse selection of customer and logos reviews and testimonials can reach a broader audience by providing information that they can trust.

Calls to Action (CTAs). A customer is interested in a product — now what? Creating calibrated CTAs that draw attention and can point consumers in the right direction will generate leads and raise profitability.

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