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B2B vs B2C: 5 Challenges For B2B Online Shops

The topic of B2B e-commerce is rightly being discussed more and more frequently. A simple reason for this: There is still a lot of catching up to do on the part of B2B companies, especially in Germany, and therefore a correspondingly large market potential.
Electronic commerce in B2B and B2C has some similarities and some recipes for success can be transferred from one area to the other. The decisive difference, however, lies in the buyer target groups: B2C and B2B are motivated to buy by completely different factors and have very different expectations of their shopping experience.
If you want to be successful in B2B e-commerce, it is worth taking a detailed look at the six most important differences between the two groups of buyers:

Challenges For B2B Online Shops

B2B vs B2C: 5 Challenges For B2B Online Shops

1. Buy impulses vs. rationality

The buying behavior of B2C customers is often determined by emotional decisions based on specific wishes or attractive prices. Business purchases, on the other hand, are predictable, carefully planned, and made with business value in mind. 
Since B2B customers are pragmatic buyers who spend long periods of time researching and evaluating relevance and financial benefits for the business, it is important that they can find the information they are looking for immediately. This should be made possible by a powerful search option, detailed but appealing product descriptions and the specification of the product codes.

2. Short term vs. long term relationships

It goes without saying that the aim of every online shop - whether B2C or B2B - is to build long-term customer relationships. The difference is that this desire in B2C business is rather one-sided with the retailer. B2C buyers who purchase products sporadically and in much smaller quantities can switch to another online shop at any time, because the price is usually more important to them than the marketplace.
In the B2B area, however, the desire for a long-term relationship is usually mutual. B2B customers would also like to build long-term relationships and partnerships with the retailer, because changes are time-consuming and often associated with additional costs - e.g. through internal resources that have to become familiar with the decisive factors such as conditions, product range, etc. Companies that attach great importance to the selection of a trustworthy supplier like to build stable relationships with their established, reliable partners. 
Long-term relationships, in turn, offer the retailer endless potential for repeat purchases - and that's what makes B2B e-commerce so exciting. From this perspective, creating an environment that is personalized from the customer's point of view, including customer-specific price lists, product catalogs, payment options, shipping conditions and a customizable checkout, significantly increases the chances of recurring purchases. Of course, you should also use a reliable CRM system for this.

3. Fixed vs. variable prices

B2C customers usually order goods at fixed prices that are the same for all web shop visitors. However, this does not apply to B2B customers. There is no universal pricing in the B2B area. The prices fluctuate depending on the customer, location, negotiated contracts, relationships between the companies, etc. B2B customers expect customer-specific discounts that should be granted for their business.
This information must be available to your business customers as soon as they are logged into the webshop. I.e. your e-commerce solution should offer the possibility of storing different price lists for different accounts. On the other hand, it must be able to represent the interactions between buyer and seller, i.e. possibly the negotiation processes on the platform.

4. Direct Payments vs. Post Delivery Payments

To complete an order, B2C customers usually pay immediately. To do this, they choose a suitable payment option, e.g. payment by credit card or direct debit. In the B2B ecosystem, purchases are often made on credit, as business customers often place several consecutive orders within a short period of time. Instead of paying for each individual order every time, B2B buyers receive invoices or monthly offers. 
This is a good payment alternative that ensures fast, regular orders. Unlike B2C customers, business customers are used to certain payment terms and deadlines (e.g. payment terms of 30, 60 or 90 days). So make sure that your webshop takes all of these options into account and that your CRM and accounting systems can trace the customer-specific conditions for each customer.

5. Fast delivery vs. on-time delivery

Above all, B2C customers want to know how quickly their ad hoc orders can be delivered. The companies active in the B2B world, on the other hand, have mostly planned their business purchases and place particular emphasis on predictable delivery times. Timely delivery is crucial for smooth business operations. 
For example, if your customer needs different auto parts to manufacture trucks, a delay in delivery of a single batch will block all production and cause losses. Timely delivery is therefore not a “nice-to-have”, but a must for every B2B dealer.


It has become clear that the characteristics of the customers make the difference between B2C and B2B. It is therefore clear: The key to success in the B2B e-commerce sector also lies in a consistent focus on customer needs. However, it is a mistake to believe that you can easily take this over from the established B2C business.