B2B vs B2C - What's the difference?

In this article, Team Pollen writes about the difference between B2B and B2C trading, and how Pollen plays a role in facilitating sustainability for all.

From the Ever Given capturing headlines when it blocked the Suez Canal, to empty shelves in supermarkets, to rising prices across the board – the COVID-19 pandemic brought online shopping and its accompanying supply chains to fore. While most of us are familiar with B2C (business-to-consumer) trading, recent news cycles are beginning to increase awareness of the B2B (business-to-business) trading going on behind the scenes of our favorite retail brands. So what are the key differences, and why does Pollen care?

"The global B2B eCommerce market valuing US$14.9 trillion in 2020 is over 5 times that of the B2C market."

Statista In-Depth Report: B2B e-Commerce 2021

B2B trading encompasses a wide range of industries, some of which are outside the consideration of consumers (individuals such as you and I). It brings raw materials to manufacturers, manufactured goods to distributors and wholesalers, wholesale goods to retailers (whereupon B2C trading may kick in, from retailer to consumer). 

In a nutshell, the key differences between B2B and B2C trading are:

  1. Volume
  2. Value
  3. Logistics
  4. Speed
  5. Marketing
  6. Customer relations / assurance
  7. Sustainability initiatives

Volume: B2B trades involve large quantities of raw materials or manufactured goods. 

Value: As can be seen from the graph on the right, the value of B2B transactions significantly outweighs that of B2C transactions thanks to the volume of each transaction.

Logistics: Since B2B trades involve larger volumes of shipments, the process tends to be costlier, more time-consuming, and may involve special handling equipment or specialized operators. 

Speed: As mentioned above, the B2B process tends to require more time when it comes to shipping of products. But the overall decision cycle takes longer than in B2C too. This can be due to costs (debating a $5 bottle of shampoo versus a $5 million shipment of shampoo? Which would you spend more time deciding on?), processes (as the decision is made by a business, various departments and documentation are often involved), and strategy (whether it’s venturing into new markets, new product lines, or deciding what kind of products to focus on).

Many of us are used to same-day shipping of items for personal use, but rarely do businesses expect their shipments of containers filled with products for sale to be delivered the next day (let alone the same day).

B2B vs B2C size comparison chart

Source: deconetwork.com

Marketing: While both B2B and B2C marketing essentially deal with people, and observe the same funnels (awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, purchase), B2B marketing may focus more heavily on product demos, industry whitepapers, case studies, and reviews. 

Not only that, the websites of B2B and B2C companies tend to differ in look & feel, user experience, and messaging. Where a B2C website may focus on benefits of a product to a user (say, “clearer skin in one week!”) or discounts such as free shipping, a B2B website will often contain lengthier product explanations, detailed information and reviews, product demo videos, free trial options, and more content targeted at corporate decision-makers evaluating a large-scale purchase. 

Customer relations / assurance: In B2B trades, due to both a longer decision-making cycle and the larger volumes & values, customer relations and post-sale service differs from that of B2C’s. To start with, a potential or returning customer requires more information and nurturing (see Marketing item above).

The sales process itself may involve more detailed paperwork and proposals versus B2C sales. And finally, while consumers are used to warranties and insurance on products purchased, in B2B trades the scale of such assurances are significantly higher due to the volume and value involved. 

Sustainability initiatives: Many of us take steps to do our part for the environment – be it refusing single-use plastics, walking / cycling to destinations instead of taking the car, or opting for environmentally friendly products or diets.

When it comes to sustainability initiatives, businesses – and, therefore, B2B trading – have more options than a single individual.

From ethical and eco-friendly employment and production practices, to recycling or donating excess goods via Pollen’s partners, to finding slow-moving or obsolete inventory liquidation channels like Pollen’s marketplace, the options available to businesses for contribution to the community at large are vast. If you’re in the B2B space, why not contact Pollen’s team for a quick chat on our world-class liquidation management system or our network of recycling & donation partners around the world? After all, sustainable liquidation is good business.

"Business-to-business (B2B) is a transaction or business conducted between one business and another, such as a wholesaler and retailer. B2B transactions tend to happen in the supply chain, where one company will purchase raw materials from another to be used in the manufacturing process."

Difference between B2B and B2C payment methods

Source: Net Solutions

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