Even though business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies have a number of differences in how they market to their customer base and serve their clients, some companies serve both sectors.
By 2020, 76 percent of business owners state they expect companies to not only meet their needs but anticipate them. People also expect businesses to be fully integrated and each department to understand what the other does. Customers don’t want to repeat themselves when dealing with customer service or across multiple channels.
Creating a website that meshes both B2B and B2C practices isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. You may have clients who use both aspects of your business, so you want the experience similar no matter how they interact with you or which landing page they start from. Here are some clearly defined ways of unifying your company website for all your clients and a few examples of businesses already doing consolidated B2B and B2C company websites well.
1. Update Your Shopping Cart
If you run an e-commerce store, your shopping cart must work for both your retail and wholesale customers. One consideration is not showing wholesale prices to the general public, who doesn’t qualify for them. You could also offer bulk discounts to anyone who wants to order a certain number of items at a time.
Office Depot is an excellent example of an e-commerce site selling to both businesses and consumers. For example, an individual can purchase a package of permanent markers one time. There is also an option for subscription delivery, so customers schedule items shipped regularly and the buyer gets a 5 percent discount. On the right side of the screen is an offer for users to sign up for Business Select, where they’ll get additional discounts on goods and services as well as delivery to certain areas.
2. Develop an Overlap Strategy
Typically, you research keywords your target audience might search for and use them in developing content for your website. When trying to reach both businesses and consumers, you must figure out where the two mindsets merge and focus marketing strategies and website content on those elements.
Make a list of keywords for business clients and another set for retail customers. Compare the keywords to find which ones overlap or are similar. These are for general use on your site, and the segmented keywords work better for specific campaigns targeted at a particular audience.
3. Segment Areas by Client Type
For sites that aren’t set up as shopping carts, you have more flexibility to segment your audiences to different landing pages explicitly geared for them. Think about the different buyer personas who land on your site and come up with a page that reaches each of those customer types. If possible, link to your landing pages for each buyer persona from your homepage.
Tuckey offers both home and commercial services. Its landing page reflects both of these customer types by offering these two choices above the fold. Clicking on either option takes the user to a page aimed at either B2B or B2C.
However, if the user scrolls down the homepage, they’ll find a grid of service types for each segment of customers. For example, under home services, you’ll find info on mold remediation, restoration and remodeling. Under commercial services, you’ll find info on medical gas piping, welding and metal fabrication. It offers many other services, so that is just a sampling and good reason to break down each type for a highly personalized online experience.
4. Streamline Logistics
One of the perks of combining both you business-to-business and business-to-consumer parts of your website is the ability to invest more in a single system and improve overall logistics for your brand. While the size of your shipments may differ between retail and wholesale orders, the same software handles both.
Also, you should be able to streamline things in your warehouse, allowing you to speed up how fast an item leaves you and arrives on the other end. A process that combines both sides of your business enables your team to streamline complaints from either sector and fix any issues before they arise within the other segment of your industry.
5. Consider the End Goal
Perhaps your company sells products to retail stores that then sell to customers. Even if your company doesn’t market to consumers, consider how your website appears to them. Before they head to a store to purchase an item, they may well begin their research online with the manufacturer to learn more about the product.
Around 88 percent of people research online before making a purchase online or in a store. One thing to keep in mind is not competing with your retailers but coming alongside them with the information they can point their customers to. Educational information builds brand loyalty both from consumers and from the businesses who order from you.
Orijen sells high-quality dog and cat food. Its website focuses on sharing information on that food without overselling the retailers who stock it. It even has a category titled Where to Buy in the navigation menu. It lists details about its foods, such as how it never outsources and the regional ingredients used. Then, it breaks down its products by dog and cat, explains how it make the food and offers other details to help consumers decide if the product is right for them.
6. Separate Customer Support
No matter what type of customer support you provide on your site, separate the categories so the agents are thoroughly vetted to handle the needs of both consumers and businesses. Those who deal with businesses need additional training outside of just how a product works, for example. There are many different ways of separating your customer support.
You can offer two numbers, place a short questionnaire on your live chat that routes the user to the appropriately trained agent, or offer two separate contact pages depending upon if the person is a consumer or business customer. While you want each type of agent trained specifically in handling B2B or B2C customers, you should also cross-train in case someone clicks on the wrong link. Essential information for both should be part of the regular training schedule.
If someone contacts the wrong support agent with a more advanced question, the agent should route them to the appropriate support and update the new agent on what you already discussed with the customer. It is very frustrating to customers when they must repeat the same story over and over to different departments.
7. Keep Your Brand Image
One often overlooked advantage of integrating both your B2B and B2C site is that you have a single brand name and image to promote and make memorable. When you have a single logo and name to promote, you can throw more money into design and marketing. While you might want to do a split in marketing to specific segments, you can also offer some advertising that drives general traffic to your site and work on funneling the different types of visitors upon their arrival.
MyWiT uses a single logo and brand message on its website, but then it adds a note for those who want to buy in bulk — businesses purchasing for their employees or setting up a plan where their workers can get a discount. The brand also breaks down its products by phone, tablet or accessories. It brands itself as trustworthy, which is vital to both consumer and business customers. The website highlights the process it uses to test its products and make sure everything works and is of the highest quality possible.
8. Highlight Appropriate Reviews
A combined B2B and B2C website should separate reviews and testimonials, so only the ones that make sense to the appropriate target audience are listed on that visitor’s page. People often check online reviews before making a final purchase. Just as you create different sections for each type of buyer persona, you should also create separate pages for reviews and testimonials.
A consumer isn’t interested in what businesses have to say about your business services. A business owner wants to know you’ll meet their needs and cares less about how fast you filled an order for a single product. Provide only the information pertinent to the specific audience it’s intended for.
One Brand With Two or More Purposes
Businesses that work with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients have multiple purposes. However, there’s no reason they can’t come together and combine into one powerful site that offers the brand a more significant online presence and better name recognition. It might not always work to integrate the two sides of your business, but there are many advantages to maintaining a single site that fulfills all the major purposes of your company.