B2B websites play by different rules and have different needs than e-commerce sites. Most out-of-the-box e-commerce solutions simply won’t meet the needs of a B2B enterprise for this reason.
How E-Commerce and B2B Websites Differ
One of the great challenges any Internet marketing speaker faces is tailoring a message for an audience. These speakers often engage with both e-commerce and B2B enterprises. On the surface, both types of companies have the same goals for their sites: reach a specific audience, inform that audience and motivate it to take a particular action. What separates these organizations, however, is the differences between the groups they target.
Integration of Other Systems
The bottom line is that the average B2B presence on the Web is more complex than the average e-commerce site. Most e-commerce providers require similar components and services. Many B2B enterprises, on the other hand, use enterprise resource planning. ERP is an approach to business process management to integrate many applications and back end functions. Any e-commerce solution they use has to be able to seamlessly integrate with ERP.
Web Storefront Trends
Businesses as consumers may be a little late to the party, but they’re here now and developing their own preferences. Just consider how some of the major online retailers are catering to business clients. They’re generally not funneling them through the same user interface used for the individual consumer. Instead, they offer custom UIs with sophisticated tools that let buyers access the kind of information and resources that vendor representatives have traditionally provided.
Special Rules and Uncommon Features
Catering to a B2B audience will often demand special rules and uncommon features. You may need to allow for special payment terms, including delayed invoicing. There may be different minimums, maximums, and shipping requirements based on how much of an item is ordered. Likewise, B2B clients will often negotiate individually in a manner that the average individual online consumer doesn’t.
CRM and Marketing
Perhaps the greatest difference between an individual consumer and a business client is how you market to those audiences. Many B2B companies focus much of their advertising on LinkedIn and similar social networks. Most e-commerce sites would look to Twitter, Facebook or PPC or PPI advertising on search engines or other websites. In addition, B2B businesses often have a higher Lifetime Value or LTV per client and will therefore be willing to invest more in each potential lead.