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Why applying the B2C model to B2B ecommerce is not such a good idea

Gregoire Chauvin

During the last years, with the growing success of ecommerce platforms, B2C transactions have evolved towards quick and frictionless ordering funnels in order to optimize the conversion rate. The best example of this trend is the "one-click ordering" feature launched by Amazon.

As B2B ecommerce has been gaining more and more importance, several platforms have tried to apply the B2C model to B2B transactions. But, although B2B also requires a frictionless experience, the complexity and the requirements of B2B transactions cannot fit in the B2C ecommerce model.

The requirements of B2B transactions

The first difference between B2C and B2B orders is the quantity of products ordered. B2B transactions are often bulk orders, involving large amounts of money. This explains why professionals do not want to order their supplies as easily and quickly as a customer on Amazon. Professionals prefer being able to carefully check their order, the shipping conditions (cost and delay), the total amount, the payment conditions and the seller's information before validating.

On the seller's side, allowing bulk orders makes stock management very important. The seller must be able to modify the quantity ordered if it does not match with his stock.

Then, allowing large orders also rises several other topics like tax rates, shipping and currencies. Professionals may not always want to have their supplies delivered as soon as possible. Some orders might only be needed 6 months later, which requires an interface where the buyer can choose his shipping conditions.

Finally, one of the biggest difference between B2C and B2B transactions is payment. B2C transactions are dominated by payment modes like credit card or Paypal whereas B2B transactions require a much wider choice of options. Professionals need to be able to choose between several payment modes (transfer, credit card, checks) and also several conditions (direct payment, payment in several terms, delayed payment etc..).

For those reasons, the B2B ordering funnel cannot be based on the B2C's model and needs to be rethought specifically for B2B.

B2B ordering funnel models

Now that we defined the requirements and specificities of B2B transactions we can design the B2B ordering funnel.

In summary, the buyer needs steps in the funnel to check the products and the quantity ordered, the shipping conditions, the payment conditions, the taxes and the total amount of the order.

Then, depending on your industry, the seller might need to be able to modify the order's details (quantities, products, shipping costs) before validating the order.

In order to fill all these requirements and to adapt to all scenarios, we, at Uppler, have designed three different ordering procedures once the buyer has validated his order:

Immediate ordering

When the buyer validates the order, it is immediately confirmed and all the details are set definitely. This procedure applies to marketplaces with few bulk orders.

Simple validation ordering

Once the buyer validates the order, the seller receives the order and can modify some information (depending on the marketplace's settings). This way, the seller can adapt the order to his stock, and adjust the shipping information for example. Then, the seller validates the order.

Double validation ordering

This procedure begins like the simple validation ordering. But when the seller changes something in the order (quantity, shipping etc..), the buyer has to revalidate to agree with the changes. This procedure is made for industries with very variable quantities and shipping conditions (ex: agro-food industry).

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