More and more typical B2B sellers are making the jump to B2C selling, according to a recent report by Forbes. The rise of eCommerce and a growing interest in online shopping means that buyers are spending more time and money shopping online – creating an opportunity for non-traditional retailers and sellers. While suppliers, brands, and wholesalers are making the switch, some do so far more effectively than others.
eCommerce and Internet savvy brands have a firm grasp on the differences between a B2B buyer and an end-user customer and an understanding of the difference in logistics can help ensure your brand makes the transition well.
Healthy sellers avoid the following common errors when it comes to including a B2C model in their sales plan:
5 common errors B2B brands make when they sell to consumers
Mistake #1: not understanding the differences between B2B and B2C buyer needs
A B2B buyer has very different needs than a B2C customer – and they’re driven by different concerns and emotions, too. The factors that trigger a sale for a business buyer won’t matter much for a customer.
Your business buyer will be concerned about profitability, about bulk buying and about how your brand is supporting their marketing efforts. Your individual customer has an emotional reaction to the product and simply wants it – if you’ve positioned it properly and they can afford it. There are several key ways B2B buyers differ from B2C brands, which impacts your ability to sell directly to customers.
For example, the purchasing process is very different between B2B and B2C buyers – your business buyers understand the inventory cycle and while they do want products swiftly, they don’t need them “now”. Taking 30 days to deliver 3,000 widgets ordered at a trade show is not usually upsetting for the B2B buyer – but even a fraction of that time would outrage an individual customer. Thanks to huge online retailers like Amazon and online branches of Walmart, Target and other big box stores, consumers expect goods to arrive very quickly – sometimes the very next day.
Mistake #2: underestimating shipping and fulfillment needs
Per-sale amounts and volume differ when you opt to sell to consumers directly. You can sell hundreds of one item to a single retailer, and your logistics team simply has to pick and pack those items – there may be a few boxes, but there won’t be hundreds of them.
Your team can pack those few boxes efficiently and get your order ready to ship in a relatively short amount of time. Give that same team 100 customer orders, and they’ll need to pick, pack, label and ship 100 individual boxes; this is a far more time-consuming proposition.
Underestimating the amount of time it will take to get orders out – and the burden that dozens of small orders will put on your logistics and fulfillment teams – is a very common error that brands make when shifting from B2B to B2C sales. If you don’t fulfill swiftly, or you don’t realize the added costs and time that retail fulfillment takes, you could end up with scant profits for the sales you’ve made.
Mistake #3: overly complex ordering processes
If you’re used to a prolonged sales cycle and the need to generate invoices, purchase orders and other paperwork to get paid, you may not realize just how streamlined your B2C payment process needs to be. Customers accustomed to the Amazon model won’t want to stick around to give you pages of information or to go through an overly complex checkout or ordering process.
Asking customers to take too many steps, to provide too much information, or to place an order (then wait for a total) reduces the user experience and can chase some buyers away. B2C buyers need secure but straightforward ways to pay and they only want to provide the information your brand needs to complete the sale.
If you make them take too many steps or try to add them to your B2B process, you risk irritating them – and you likely take too much time processing sales, too.
Mistake #4: misdirecting traffic
It’s natural to want to make the most of the assets you have in place, but using your business and brand website for consumer buying purposes is a recipe for disaster. If you direct consumers to a bulk catalog with a lot of choices, they may wander away. Instead, use a landing page to properly direct traffic and make sure you have a UX in place that supports the individual shopping process.
If you simply begin marketing and driving traffic, but don’t have a planned landing page for them, you’re wasting valuable advertising dollars. Creating product listings that appeal to consumers (who may be interested in different aspects of your product than procurement buyers) and using dedicated landing pages allows you to deploy funds effectively and ensure you’re getting the best possible ROI for your efforts.
Mistake #5: misallocation of inventory
What items can you sell D2C, and which ones are already spoken for? Misunderstandings about inventory can happen when the same inventory and warehouse serve both individual consumers and businesses. Your sales team may promise the bulk of your on-hand inventory to one buyer, leaving you without the items you need to fulfill retail sales.
This issue works the other way as well – if your fulfillment team picks individual items that were needed to fulfill a larger wholesale order, you could experience delays and frustrate your own sales team, too.
Proper tracking and allocation of inventory is essential if you are running both business and consumer sales from one location. Since multiple teams could be pulling inventory at the same time – and an accurate listing of on-hand items is needed to properly run your consumer-facing site – if you don’t have a procedure in place, you’ll end up with a frustrating and costly mess.
Prevent errors when you add a B2C sales channel to your brand
Being aware of the most common errors brands make when they add a retail line and website – and taking steps to mitigate them – can help you ease into selling your own product line directly to customers. Careful tracking of your inventory and creating a logistics process that takes the needs of consumer order shipping into consideration can help you make the most of your new initiative.
Interested in learning more? Here are a few more resources we think you’ll like!
- Building Your eCommerce Store’s Brand Online
- How to Maximize Profit Margins for Your eCommerce Business
Ready to learn about common mistakes you might be making? One of our inventory management experts is ready to walk you through exactly how SkuVault can benefit your business and answer all your questions about how our powerful Inventory and Warehouse Management System can help address the needs of your unique business.