<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/133892.png" alt="" style="display:none;">

While there are various similarities between the B2B and B2C buying process, there are plenty of differences too. In this blog, we’ll be explaining the two buying processes, where they overlap and where they differ.

Let’s get started.

How B2B and B2C customers compare to each other: A summary

ecommerce b2b vs b2c

Before we get onto the differences in buying process, let’s briefly cover the similarities and differences in expectations from each type of customer.

  • Type of relationship - B2B customers are often making a bigger investment when it comes to their purchasing choices. So, they’re more likely to be interested in your company story and brand ethos and building lasting relationships with your team to ensure your values align with theirs. B2C will become loyal to brands but they aren’t as interested in knowing you personally.
  • Length of buying journey - B2B customers take longer to decide as there are far more complex factors at play (we’ll discuss those in more detail). So, they’ll require more nurturing and convincing before they’re ready to invest in your product or service.
  • Purchasing decision - B2B customers are usually process-driven when it comes to their purchase decision. They want to improve a particular process or efficiency with their purchase. While B2C customers are often emotionally-driven, purchasing to satisfy a particular need.

Differences between the B2B and B2C buying processes

1. B2B customers proactively identify needs to meet their business strategy

Ecommerce strategy

For both B2B and B2C customers, the buying process will start with identifying a need. B2B customers are more likely to proactively identify a need and look for a solution to fulfil it as part of their business strategy.

For example, they might say, “To improve the efficiency of our financial reporting, we should invest in some software that can integrate with our business systems and consolidate information to simplify the overall process.”

B2C customers identify their needs in a similar way but they’re also often swayed by marketing and advertising materials that draw attention to new products. So, in addition to saying something like, “I’m not sleeping very well, I should buy a new mattress”, they can also be influenced into buying said mattress even if they are sleeping well.

2. B2B customers buy products/services that meet certain specifications while B2C are more flexible

When most businesses are buying new products or services, they’ll have certain specifications in mind. From cost, features and functionalities to the overall benefits the investment will bring to the company, B2B customers won’t purchase something on a whim. Their purchase decisions are more strategic and less emotional.

In contrast, B2C customers are more emotionally-driven when it comes to their purchases. They often know what product/service they want (or what they want it to achieve) but they rarely have specifications to stick to. They’re a lot more flexible, susceptible to impulse purchases and will forgo their initial product/service if they find another they like better.

3. The B2B buying process is longer than B2C

Best ecommerce strategies

As we mentioned above, B2B customers make more strategic buying decisions which means their buying process is often longer than B2C. They evaluate and deliberate over complex factors such as:

  • The cost of the item/service - does it fit with my budget?
  • Supplier reputation - are they reliable? Are they reputable/credible in the industry? Do their brand values/ethos align with mine?
  • The features and functionalities of the product/service - are the benefits worth the investment? Is this the right investment for my business?

There’s usually a formal sign-off/approval process too, involving various senior stakeholders.

B2C customers consider relatively simplistic factors in comparison, such as:

  • Value for money - am I getting the best deal? Can I find it cheaper elsewhere?
  • Product/service reviews - how does the product/service compare to alternatives? What do independent reviews say?
  • Brand reputation - how credible and reliable is the brand?

They’re also usually the only decision maker/stakeholder involved. They might ask their friends and family for advice on bigger purchases but ultimately, it’s one person making the decision. And for those reasons, their buying journey is often shorter.

4. B2B customers care about post-sales service

Customers of all types expect outstanding customer service and that includes excellence even after the sale. B2B customers in particular want consistently excellent customer service before, during and after their sale.

Some examples of excellent post-sales service include:

  • Following up to check how they’re doing and if there’s anything else needed
  • Sending additional materials/resources that are relevant to the recent purchase and/or customers might find interesting
  • Being readily available to resolve any issues they’re experiencing (whether it’s related to their purchase or a new issue)

Ultimately, you want to make it clear that you’re there for your customers whenever they need. This level of attention will satisfy your customers and boost retention, making it more likely that they’ll return to you for future purchases.

B2C customers, on the other hand, usually only turn to after-sales support when they’re experiencing a problem or want to complain. Factors such as being able to respond and resolve the issue quickly can make or break their loyalty. They don’t often appreciate being sent additional resources, even if it’s relevant, as much as B2B customers do.


Knowing the differences between B2B and B2C buying behaviours is the first step towards a great B2B e-commerce strategy

While B2B and B2C customers have some similarities, such as sharing an end goal of wanting to buy something to satisfy a particular need, their buying journeys and values aren’t the same. And knowing those differences is key when you’re building an e-commerce strategy.

This is something we delve deeper into in our webinar, featuring valuable insights from our customer experience experts James Baker and Tham Nazir and leaders in the e-commerce software landscape Episerver. They’ll be talking all things B2B e-commerce, from the do’s to the don’ts.

Register to watch the webinar on 9 December at 10am via the button below.

Sign up to watch the webinar


Discuss this post

Recommended posts

A secret to getting the most out of your software integration? Build a strong and productive relationship with your solutions partner. They’re the ones who will know about your solution(s) in depth, from how it best applies to your industry/business to the upcoming and latest updates.
So you’ve got a new, snazzy e-commerce website. And it looks great. But there’s just one thing - it’s not performing as well as you expected. Maybe you’re not getting enough traffic or your website visitors aren’t converting. Whatever the reason, don’t worry - it’s solvable. Here are some top reasons why your B2B e-commerce website isn’t working, plus some tips on how you can fix it. Your website isn’t search engine-friendly You haven’t provided enough information You’ve provided too much information Your website isn’t multi-device friendly Your website doesn’t have a goal Your forms are too time-consuming to fill You’re using a B2C e-commerce platform to create a B2B experience
As your e-commerce business grows, everything becomes more demanding. Those processes and systems that have always worked for you in the past? They may not be as efficient now. Your teams may be performing redundant tasks, time may be wasted as data is stored in disparate systems… these are just a few signs that it’s time to explore automation. Here are some top benefits of automation for e-commerce businesses. Boosted productivity and more time back A chance to increase employee engagement Valuable access to business intelligence Opportunities to improve marketing campaigns and conversion rates Improved customer satisfaction and experience
We’ve been hearing about the retail apocalypse for the last decade. Increasing troves of consumers began moving to the web to fulfil their shopping needs. In response, retailers launched websites and started to sell their products or services online as well as in-store. That worked back then. Now? It’s not enough to launch an e-commerce website and call it your digital commerce strategy.
An ongoing challenge for the manufacturing industry is to reduce waste. But how can you do so realistically? ‘Waste’ can be tangible - like stock material, ingredients or excess product. ‘Waste’ can also be intangible - like the time operators spend waiting for machines and the time it takes for products (raw and finished) to travel along the supply chain. A combination of agile and Lean manufacturing processes coupled with e-commerce can effectively reduce waste. Let’s discuss how. What is Lean manufacturing? What is agile manufacturing? Where does e-commerce come in?
right-arrow share search phone phone-filled menu filter envelope envelope-filled close checkmark caret-down arrow-up arrow-right arrow-left arrow-down