More and more companies are selling to both consumers and businesses in order to grow sales and increase their market share. Companies that either make a product or sell in larger quantities can take advantage of economies of scale and generate huge margins selling direct to consumer rather than just to businesses at a bulk discount.
One of the most obvious use cases of selling to both businesses and consumers is the manufacturer. They usually cannot sell enough products direct to consumer to cover all sales and rely on B2B sales. However, the benefit from the profit margin of cutting out the middleman with direct to consumer sales is far too high to ignore.
Traditionally, many companies have split up their sites for B2B and B2C channels to simplify operations because the two markets were so different. Amazon even did this with a different wholesale URL. They eventually shut this site down and recently integrated B2B into the flagship amazon.com so now you can simply buy as a business and consumer. Why did they make this switch? There must be some major benefit if the largest eCommerce company in the world made this decision.
Based on my experience working with many companies who have had either one site or multiple sites, here are some of the key benefits I see to having just one unified B2B and B2C site:
1. Unified Catalog Management
One site allows you to manage all your products in one unified database. You may want to toggle some products on and off for certain users or for B2B vs. B2C customers, but its still much easier to do that than managing multiple catalogs.
2. Less Technical Overhead
You only have one theme and code base to manage. It’s much easier to manage one site than two. There may be some additional personalization to do, but overall that is less work than maintaining and changing two sites.
3. One Site and Brand to Promote
This is key. You only have one site for customers to remember, one brand to promote, and no confusion as to where to go. This is much easier for marketing and promotions.
4. Potentially Simpler Operations
I say potentially here because sometimes there is a lot of technical work to make one site work for both B2B and B2C. However, once it does work, it’s typically easier. This is because with one website, you only have one place to integrate into systems like an ERP, CRM, and other systems. Therefore your integrations and systems can be consolidated, rather than running multiple websites that may all need separate integrations.
5. B2B Buyers Want to Buy Like Consumers
As a business, we want to buy quickly, efficiently, and at a good price. Time is the most important asset of an employee, and no company wants it wasted on buying a product. We don’t want to waste time traveling to a store or speaking via phone if it can be avoided without any detriment. Therefore, having an experience that allows us to search, learn about the product, and buy quickly, just like a consumer, is what is typically desired.
Having one site for both B2B and B2C makes it easier to offer a consumer-like experience because the consumer experience is already wrapped in. You may only have to layer on some additional B2B personalization like better pricing, paying via invoice and other B2B options.
Move Forward Faster
There is something to be said when some of the largest eCommerce companies in the world have recognized the benefits and are moving forward with one site. I do not think companies can ignore such a significant operational consideration for their company. It can simplify your business and help you move forward faster in the eCommerce world.
About (Author) and Trellis
Isaiah Bollinger is the CEO and Founder of Trellis who started the company in 2012. Trellis is a full-service eCommerce solution provider that specializes in implementing Magento based websites. Our capabilities allow us to plan and design a solution that not only meets your specific goals and budget today, but will also scale with you as you grow. Once a site is launched we stick side by side with our clients to help them improve the site and market the site to generate more customers. Follow on Twitter: @IsaiahBollinger & @trelliscommerce