Over the past few decades, online shopping and eCommerce have grown to have a massive presence, with a multi-billion-dollar worth at a global level. B2C or business to consumer sales have largely taken up the eCommerce spotlight, due to their extensive marketing and change in consumer behaviour.
From the 2010s, B2B or business-to-business sales have started to shift to eCommerce platforms, increasing their visibility and access to more clients. As more businesses launch B2B operations online, eCommerce platforms are offering support for dedicated B2B storefronts, in addition to standard B2C eCommerce websites.
Magento is currently one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, already powering 250,000+ websites worldwide. Its Commerce edition offers dedicated solutions for a B2B eCommerce platform, B2C, and hybrid model with both B2B and B2C capabilities.
Magento for eCommerce
Names as a leading eCommerce platform in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, Magento offers excellent functionalities and features. Some of the common features for Magento eCommerce platforms are for:
- Responsive Themes and Layouts
- Site Performance
- Business Intelligence
- Product Offerings
- Product Browsing
- Catalogue Browsing
- Catalogue Management
- Layered Navigation and Search
- Merchandising and Segmentation
- Promotions & Coupons
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Site Management
- Content Management
- One-Touch Checkouts
- Integrated Shipping and Payment Options
- Order Management
- Customer Service
- Customer Accounts
- Global Currency, Language and Tax Support
- Analytics and Reporting
The entire eCommerce platform can be personalised to suit your brand image and business goals. All the Magento features are backed with optimal security for your customers and you. Magento regularly releases software updates to help you stay on top of latest trends in the market.
The latest Magento 2.4 update has improved the eCommerce speed and security, while providing additional features such as improved product searches, and seller-assisted shopping.
B2B Vs B2C eCommerce
The flexibility of the internet medium has encouraged businesses to expand from B2B to B2C sales and vice versa. Although the basic premise remains the same in B2B and B2C sales, there are several differences between the two, resulting in slightly different eCommerce portals for each. Whether you are firm on catering to one type of audience only, or are considering diversification, understanding the differences can help you.
1. Customer Base
The customer base is the single biggest difference between B2B and B2C sales. For B2B sales, other businesses or companies are the customer. Accordingly, the customer base consists of fewer clients, but with large-sized orders. In B2C sales, the direct public is the customer, and there is a vast customer base, with varying order sizes.
Although the price of any product will depend upon the specific product and the niche, B2B products and packages are more expensive. Businesses tend to purchase in large volumes and bulk, with optional customisations as required.
In comparison, B2C prices are typically more affordable as they are for single items. Consumers have a greater likelihood of purchasing less expensive products. Accordingly, the pricings for B2C products are lower than that of B2B products.
In B2B sales, discounts are a part of negotiations and personalised price offerings and deals. This would vary from client to client and be subject to contracts, volume of purchase, and quotations. For larger volume purchases in niches with a lot of competition, a greater discount would be expected.
For B2C sales, there are generally a variety of discounts available, based on what the brand wants to offer at which point of time. Discounts or special offers can be applicable for different holiday seasons, or as a loyalty bonus. The primary difference with B2B discounts is that in B2C promotions, the offers are standardised and not customised for a specific buyer, whereas B2B discounts are personalised for the customer.
4. Sales Customisation
In B2B sales, a highly customised sales process and personalised sales overall are the norm. Depending on the needs of each client and the size of the purchase, the sale can be adapted. In B2C sales, there is generally a standard sales procedure in place that is applicable for all customers. Occasionally, there may be special deals for loyal customers in a B2C setup, but that is not as common as in B2B sales.
5. Order Value
The order value amount is significantly higher in B2B sales as compared to B2C where the average order amount is generally lower. The order value is not a direct indicator of overall sales in either case. In B2B, while the order amounts are higher, there is less frequency of transactions. In B2C, there are frequent low value transactions.
6. Payment Options
With B2B sales that involve large volumes and high transactional amounts, the payments are generally flexible to suit the buyer. This can also include payment plans for recurring purchases. In B2C sales, there are predefined payment modes that the customer can choose from. There is a standard payment procedure that needs to be followed.
7. Product Details
In B2B sales, since the order values are high, more detailed product descriptions and in-depth information is required. More information helps businesses in making well-informed decisions while purchasing expensive or bulk items. Businesses can also reach out to the seller to gain further product data as needed.
Although details are a pre-requisite for B2C sales, less in-depth information is required, especially for less expensive items. Also, standard information is provided for all customers.
8. Lead to Conversion Time
The sales cycle is longer in B2B, from the initial lead interest to the final moment of conversion. The transactional volume and amount are high, and approval may need to go through multiple persons or committees for the purchase, resulting in a longer lead to conversion time frame.
In B2C sales, the lead to conversion time is considerably shorter, with many purchases taking place instantly. The overall time period from lead to conversion in B2C depends upon the price of the product. Consumers are more likely to instantly purchase low value products as compared to more expensive items.
9. Buyer Motivation
For any successful sale, it is important to understand the motivation of the buyer. In B2B sales, the primary motivation is the functionality of the product and its use to the business. Hard data and facts are taken into account, without any focus on personal motivations.
The buyer motivation in B2C sales is complex. It depends upon the personal preferences of the consumer, emotion-driven needs, and latest shopping trends. As a seller, you need to catch and maintain the interest of a consumer in order to complete the sale.
10. Customer Relationships
A B2B seller develops long-lasting relationships with clients. This encourages future repeat sales and a long-term association with the particular business. Personal involvement, customised offerings, and negotiations help in forming a strong bond.
The customer-seller relationship in a B2C business is less personalised. The products offered are fixed, the payment options are standardised, and discounts are applicable for all. Forming a strong customer relationship in a B2C environment is possible by consistently offering good quality products, fast shipping, and reasonable prices. With so many other eCommerce sites available in the market in most niches, there are plenty of options available for consumers. As a result, gaining loyal customers can take time.
Marketing strategies differ greatly between B2B and B2C businesses, primarily due to the difference in target group. For B2B sales, you would need to devise marketing campaigns to reach target businesses, and develop a relationship with clients, before moving on to sales.
In B2C marketing, the goal is to help your target group reach your eCommerce portal for purchasing. Search engine optimisation and social media marketing are popular tools for B2C marketing. Developing a relationship with each consumer is not a practical option, instead, piquing interest with good deals and visually-striking images is used.
Magento for B2C
Magento is one of the most widely used eCommerce platforms for B2C businesses. There are a wide range of features and functionalities that make Magento Commerce a top choice for a B2C eCommerce platform, in any niche. Over the years, the B2C platform capabilities have been further honed to meet the needs of modern businesses and consumers.
For a B2B eCommerce site, both the Starter and Pro Magento plans can be used. The Magento Starter plan is suited for small B2C merchants that are expecting to double their growth and desire flexibility while having a small budget. The Magento Pro plan is suited for more established B2C merchants expecting more than a 2X growth in the future. It comes with sophisticated integrations and can better support spike in traffic or frequent surges. There is a streamlined upgrade process from Magento Starter to Pro plans, to support business growth and meet changing requirements.
Here are some of the top features of the Magento B2C platform:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): For an eCommerce site, search engines are a major source of leads. Magento is equipped with SEO features such as generation of Google Sitemaps, search engine friendly URLs, easy Meta Tags, and fast page loading.
- Catalogue Management: Proper product presentation can go a long way in creating an impressive first impression on consumers. Magento supports customisable product descriptions, batch imports, easy editing and deletion of products and reviews, displaying virtual products and more.
- Marketing: Apart from SEO, Magento also helps with promotions and marketing. It offers tools for cross-selling, setting up promotions and discounts, monitoring coupon usage, newsletters, polls, free shipping support, and custom price variations.
- Checkouts: Support quick and easy checkouts with Magento. Customers are provided with a mini-cart directly on the store pages. Applicable taxes and estimated shipping carts can be viewed from the shopping cart page. From the checkout page, customers can directly create a customer account with one click.
- Payments: Magento supports payment integration with several top payment gateways, and additional payment modes are available from the Magento Marketplace. Available payment modes include cheques, money orders, online wallets, credit cards, debit cards, cash on delivery, bank transfers. All payments are safe, secure, and fast.
- Shipping: Indicating shipping costs help customers plan for their purchase. Magento indicates the real-time shipping rates from top providers and you have the option to set a flat shipping rate or adjustable based on orders and items. Table rates can also be included for weights, destinations, and number of items with prices.
Customer Loyalty: Setting up a customer loyalty program is a great way to improve customer relationship management. With Magento, you can provide reward points, configure a system for redemption of the reward points, and enable customers to create wish lists and gift registries.
Magento for B2B
Among the best eCommerce platforms globally, Magento Commerce is a popular choice for B2B businesses, offering a vast number of features dedicated for B2B. Offering a dedicated solution for B2B brands, Magento Commerce incorporates the best aspects of its traditional eCommerce platform with specialised features for B2B sales.
The Magento Pro plan is suited for B2B merchants, with sophisticated integrations and support for frequent traffic surges. The Pro plan can support up to 4 million effective SKUs and dedicated servers with automated backups and data retention.
Here are some of the top features of the Magento B2B platform:
- Easy Management: From the Magento B2B eCommerce site you can manage everything that is needed for your business. Easily support multiple brands, suppliers, key accounts and product options. The B2B site can be integrated with any existing tools, CRM solutions or ERP, boosting your overall efficiency.
- Access Security: Multiple representatives of a company might be accessing a single buyer account. Magento has increased security and control for buyers with ACL to regulate representative account access, and action and order logging. When the admin logs out, the sessions are destroyed, keeping all purchasing history completely confidential.
- Inventory Management: With the Magento smart multi-source inventory management feature you can effectively keep track of all the inventory across multiple locations. Orders from all sales channels are combined and corroborated to give you accurate real-time inventory information.
- Customer Segmentation: Offering customers a personalised experience is ideal but can be time consuming. With Magento B2B solutions, you can set up customer segmentations in advance and provide tailor-made experiences based on browsing or purchase history.
- Content Staging: Apart from the dynamic product pages and layouts, Magento B2B offers a content staging feature. With this feature, you can change the product pages based on a pre-assigned schedule to suit changes in sales and purchasing patterns.
- Set Credit Limits: As many B2B clients purchase from their credit balance, you can make the payment process faster and easier by allocating desired credit limits to reliable buyers. At the time of payment, they can simply choose the ‘payment on account’ option and pay later.
- Quotation System: Negotiations and quotations are an important part of B2B sales. With the Magento B2B platform, there is a dedicated quotation system that buyers can use to request a quotation. As the quotation is processed, the buyers can continue with their shopping, while you respond to the quotation to complete the sales. Once the quotation has been negotiated and finalised, the order can go through the approval process, as required.
- Approval Workflows: B2B purchasing typically involves an approval system, where the buying company personnel secure approval from designated persons before completing the purchase. For better spending control and to help buyers streamline the entire purchase process for better convenience and faster ordering, Magento can set up automated approval workflows. Rules can be implemented as to when purchases require approval and from whom, based on total value, shipping costs and SKUs.
- Fast Orders: Traditionally, B2B sales take time. Magento speeds up each process of the workflow in a streamlined manner, increasing the overall speed of transactions. Clients are helped with tracking quotes, order forms, purchase requests, and anything else that is needed.
- Search Past Orders: For greater accountability and convenience, Magento has an enhanced search functionality for past orders. All the previously placed orders can be searched and filtered, giving full control and transparency to the buying company, and helping with repeat orders. The search and filtering criterion include SKUs, product name, order number, invoice number, order status, date or value range, and by the person who created the order.
Magento Hybrid Model
The flexibility offered by eCommerce has resulted in a blurring of the traditional distinction between B2B and B2C businesses. With an adequate supplier connection and warehousing capabilities, B2B companies can cater to direct consumers, and B2C businesses can sell to other businesses. It is becoming increasingly common for businesses to expand into supporting B2B and B2C sales.
Setting up two different eCommerce platforms, one for B2B and a separate one for B2C comes with a host of problems. This can complicate the branding of the business, confuse customers, and cause issues with search engine optimisation. Managing two separate eCommerce sites is also tiresome, expensive and time-consuming. Magento offers a hybrid model of eCommerce site, which combines both B2B and B2C capabilities.
Here are some of the features of the Magento hybrid platform:
- Easier to Manage: A hybrid platform makes it easier to support and manage both B2B and B2C functionalities with one single system. As a result, you save on extra costs for additional platforms, facilities and personnel. It is easier to holistically view the business performance and identify areas that require more time and effort. There will be single vendors, platform lifecycles, update schedules, and integration systems.
- Faster: Setting up two separate B2B and B2C websites and getting them to take off will take twice the amount of time and money. With a hybrid platform, you can launch a B2B and B2C website in half the time, giving you an edge over competition. Simply ‘flip a switch’ to start configuring desired products and processes.
- Unique Aesthetic: There are already a large number of B2B and B2C websites available in the market. However, a hybrid website is unique, and can be customised to incorporate the best aspects of each segment for a one-of-a-kind eCommerce platform. A hybrid B2B and B2C site will have a common architecture with shared design and content elements.
- Flexibility: The Magento Hybrid platform is immensely flexible and can easily be adjusted and modified to suit changing business needs. Any new business strategies or models can be effectively adopted. The Magento Hybrid platform is future-proof and designed to grow with your business needs, whether in B2B or B2C segment.
- Unified Product Catalogue: Having multiple eCommerce platforms results in multiple product catalogues. These take extra efforts and time to maintain, update and synchronise products and data. A Magento Hybrid platform offers a unified catalogue management system, so that all the products can be kept and managed from a single database, also aiding in inventory management.
- Full Functionalities for B2B and B2C: The Magento Hybrid system combines both B2B and B2C eCommerce platforms, without compromising on any functionalities. Consumers for each segment can directly view targeted products for either B2B or B2C, and switch between the displays as desired. From the product catalogue, any item can be shown as visible or not for B2B and B2C buyers.
Magento Commerce is an excellent eCommerce platform that is well suited for B2B, B2C and hybrid websites. The significant flexibility and personalisation capacity that Magento offers makes it a great choice for any kind of eCommerce website. Depending on your current business needs and future goals, you can decide on which format would be the best for your brand, whether a B2B, B2C or hybrid eCommerce platform. With regular updates and new features added on, Magento is future-proof and designed to grow with you.
Reach out to the experienced team of Magento developers here at 18th DigiTech to discuss your business needs and vision for growth. Our qualified and capable team can help you find the best eCommerce solution, and bring it to life with an interactive and dynamic eCommerce website.