B2B vs. B2C- What is more Challenging?
In a marketing career spanning three years (a rookie still, I might add) the most common query posed to me when I have explained to my prospective customer the perks of Business to Business (B2B) trading as compared to Business to Consumer (B2C) trading is,
“Online? This seems too simple. Are you sure I can drive that kind of mileage for my business without sweating it out? Sure?
The term that jars me the most is ‘simple’. Of course, I can see the motivation for their questioning- B2B is all about creating an active profile on a good enough B2B portal, loading up the profile with useful and powerful information that will attract the undivided interest of prospective business, and while the line and hook is in the water, wait for the big fish to take a bite. The process seems simple enough. However, our good online trader forgot the most important ingredient that brings out the actual flavour of such a B2B relationship- Trust.
“Trust? How can I build a trustworthy partnership with someone whom I know only from the pictures and content supplied in his/her online B2B profile? I need something more tangible than that.”
Exactly. Your prospective trading partner on a B2B portal isn’t aware of your fine offline trading reputation, or your strict adherence to quality and the ethical mode of doing things. These factors are crucial to the formation of a reliable trade partnership and you need to convince, or be convinced with the online material available before you that points to the fine trading record of a prospective trade partner. To generate this trust through accurate records, fruitful communication and an honesty driven approach, and to appreciate these qualities in a prospective buyer or seller is the greatest challenge in B2B trading.
Thus, B2C is a much easier concept as it involves appealing to individual customers and things are often judged on the basis of readily available samples, face-to-face communication and a more open arena for promotion. However, B2B will always be the more sustainable, scalable option- wherein, the establishment of trust between the trading parties is usually followed by a long partnership that is marked by repeat selling, up selling, cross selling and lasting loyalty. Multiply this idea with ‘n’ number of trading partners and you have built a very powerful trading ecosystem.
Often, the question that follows immediately after my explanation as stated above is,
“Really? What happens if nobody pays any attention to my B2B profile at all?
That’s my cue to open up my trusty laptop and take my prospective online trader on a guided tour of our pioneer B2B website. I kept using the term ‘a good B2B portal’ and in these times when businesses worldwide are keenly jumping onto the B2B bandwagon, your quality profile is guaranteed to receive the right attention from buyers and sellers from across the world.