Patrick Foster
May 2, 2017

What Makes B2B and B2C eCommerce Different?

There was once a very clear distinction between B2B services and B2C retailers. But with the advent of digital eCommerce stores, the two have taken on some similar traits. It’s important to identify the distinctions between B2B and B2C eCommerce when molding your own business. You especially need to consider how customers interact with your website and how they make purchasing decisions. Here’s how.

Different Customers, Different Buyer Journeys

B2B customers are seeking solutions for their businesses and there will most likely be numerous points of contact from the first inquiry to a final purchase. They will also very likely become clients rather than simply ‘in the door — out the door’ customers. Understanding their needs often requires time and commitment and this can be costly. Remember, there will be a monetary value for every won and lost customer in addition to the product or service sold. How much it costs to convert a lead is incredibly important in B2B.

B2C customers might have been to your site before or heard about you from a friend or via social media. They will check out your site and decide fairly quickly if it’s of interest. They want to browse, find what they’re looking for and either make a purchase, save items to return to later, or leave.

Email automation, UX optimization and a mobile-responsive website, is really important to converting B2C sales. Building a relationship between your customers and your brand will drive leads and encourage peer-to-peer referrals.

Individuals Involved in the Buying Decision

In B2B purchasing, the first person who discovers your service or product is searching because there is a problem that needs a solution. They want to be the one who found that perfect, affordable, reliable solution so that they look good in front of their boss. But getting sign-off from stakeholders is often a challenge, with multiple people involved in purchase decisions, as shown below.

B2C customers visit an eCommerce store because they are actively looking for a product or service and they are generally happy to make purchase decisions on their own, or after consulting a friend or family member. Their purchases can be made on impulse and it’s quite conceivable they would be tempted by upsells and incentives.

Tone and Delivery of your Branded Website

Personality is hugely important when it comes to converting both B2B and B2C customers. B2C customers want to relate to your brand, whereas B2B customers want to function better because of the thing they’re purchasing from you. They want to work with a professional company that makes things easy and doesn’t patronize.

The best place to begin communicating your personality is your eCommerce website. This is where we see how B2B and B2C are markedly different.

Unique Aspects of a B2B eCommerce Website

B2B websites are aimed at convincing and persuading stakeholders to choose their service over a competitor by clearly stating their USPs, ROI factors and ease of integration. The tone is friendly but professional, and the messaging should be very concise. Sites will include case studies and testimonials from other business partners, because it’s all about credibility, value, quality and ease.

CTAs might include:

  • Sign up today
  • Find out more
  • Sign up for free
  • Learn about us
  • Get started

Messaging might include:

  • Easy to use
  • Powerful integration
  • Unique
  • Here for you

A B2B website might look like:

This Capsule CRM site is typical of a well-built B2B eCommerce site. It’s clean and professional, includes a login and signup button up the top and a clear ‘Sign Up’ CTA in the top panel.

It offers a testimonial early on and goes on to explain concisely, exactly what they offer. The UX experience on this site is brilliant.

Unique Aspects of a B2C eCommerce Website

B2C eCommerce sites are aimed at grabbing the user’s attention and convincing them to convert as soon as possible. This involves aspects such as lots of big, bright images, product descriptions, offers and opportunities to join the ‘community’.

CTAs might include:

  • Browse top trends
  • Shop Now
  • Spring arrivals
  • Shop Women/Shop Men
  • Shop Sale
  • View collections

A website might look like:

The Toyshades Shopify store is a typical example of what can be achieved with out-of-the-box eCommerce builders. This site has attitude and quickly communicates a brand personality through use of big images and strong messaging. Customers will very quickly make a decision about whether they relate to the lifestyle the brand portrays.

Account Management vs. Customer Service and Retention

B2B conversions will often require account management or relationship management at some point in the future. If you’ve sold a technology solution, there may be a long way to go before any money changes hands. You’ll need to help the customer integrate and potentially teach the rest of their team how to use your product or service. This may mean your eCommerce website requires a dashboard or login area where your clients can see how the product is working, look at revenue and ROI, etc. and speak to a member of the support team when necessary.

For B2C businesses, it’s all about customer service and offering customers easy shipping and returns, competitive pricing and special offers. Customer service starts from good UX and informative product pages, through to an efficient checkout process and follow up email process. Asking for feedback, offering choice, being clear and providing valuable follow up, are all things you can implement to improve performance. eCommerce customers will notice and react to bad experiences online —  don’t let them down.

Content marketing

Both B2B and B2C brands will require email marketing and website content to attract leads and maintain customer engagement. But there is variance in the type of content and messaging applied.

  • B2B web content should position you as a thought leader or expert in your field to improve credibility and trust
  • Emails to potential customers should highlight your USPs, position you as thought leaders again and establish some kind of valuable exchange

B2C marketing is more social and focuses on community and brand engagement. Content will be shorter, more upbeat, and focused around products and brand identity.

  • Newsletters and sales emails will focus on products and trends and often include added value such as a voucher code or free delivery
  • Automated emails can be used to remind a customer if they’ve left an item in their shopping cart, and try to coax them back. Anything that curbs cart abandonment is worthwhile, especially around the holidays


Identifying the difference between B2B and B2C eCommerce begins with the customer. Who are you selling to and how will you convince them to buy into your brand? Once you know that, it’s important to choose the right platform to sell yourself and your products.

Keeping the tone and personality of your brand in mind at all times is important. Websites are different for a very good reason. Your eCommerce site should be all about the user experience. Make it easy and appealing to engage with your brand. Make decisions based on the needs of the customer and the emerging market.

Do You Have Anything To Share?

If you have direct experience with both B2B and B2C eCommerce, and want to add some useful advice for readers, please do so. Any comments will be appreciated and engaged with.


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As an ecommerce marketer, I write for both B2B and B2C brands and understand there is a big difference in how each reach their customers. Find more of my tips and hints at

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