The main incentive for most businesses to sell to both businesses and consumers is to increase their market share and grow sales. There are huge profit margins to be had for companies that also sell directly to consumers (B2C), rather than just to businesses at a bulk discount (B2B).
It is the case that most businesses cannot complete all their sales through direct to consumer transactions. However, the benefits of the profit margins from cutting out the middle-man from direct customer sales are too high to ignore completely. As such, we see plenty of e-commerce providers choosing move toward a unified B2B and B2C site.
In general, most businesses chose to split their B2B and B2C operations because the two markets seemed so different. An example of this was Amazon deciding to create a different site for wholesale products targeted towards retailers. They later shut down the site and integrated it into amazon.com. Several reasons that may have influenced the decision of the largest e-commerce provider to unify their B2C and B2B sites are as follows.
1. The promotion of one Brand
By reducing the number of sites through which you sell your products, you can reduce the cost of marketing and advertising which comes with having multiple sites. In effect, this also reduces customer confusion on which website to visit.
2. Reduce the time to buy for B2B customers
Businesses are very conscious of the time that they spend on buying and selecting products. They seek to avoid traveling to the store or speaking via phone if they can. By making the B2B transaction process more similar to the B2C process, allowing them to search and learn about the product and buy quickly, we can improve the experience of B2B customers on our site. Once again, having a unified B2B – B2C website allows us to offer a consumer-like experience, with only some tweaks such as better pricing, paying via invoice and other B2B options required.
3. A Unified catalog to manage
By having both B2B and B2C products in one place, it simplifies the process of managing your catalog. Other than toggling some products on or off for B2B vs. B2C users, it is overall easier than having to manage multiple databases.
4. Simpler Operations
After the technical work that is required to make one site that works for both B2B and B2C, any further operation is much simpler. The integration of systems such as CRM, ERP, and others are required for only a single website rather than across multiple sites.
5. Less Technical overhead
With only some additional personalization required, there is overall less work in managing the theme and code base for one site rather than two.
The future of selling goods online
With some of the largest e-commerce providers recognizing the benefits of a unified site for both commercial businesses and consumers, we can conclude that this is the way forward for making use of the full potential of your market as we move towards the future of selling our products online.