The term ‘e-commerce’ generally tends to make us think of purchasing goods or services using the internet, but there are actually six basic categories that the transfers fall under, and each represents a unique purchasing dynamic. These are Business-to-Business (B2B), Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C), Consumer-to-Business (C2B), Business-to-Administration (B2A) and Consumer-to-Administration (C2A). In today’s article, we are going to focus on the B2C model. By the end, you should be able to answer the question: What does B2C mean? And you should understand why B2C is an important distinction for business owners to make, current consumer behaviours and how B2C marketing is used to connect with customers.
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What does B2C mean?
B2C is the transaction that takes place when a business sells a product or service to consumers. While this can include people shopping on the high street or enjoying a meal in a restaurant, the term B2C typically refers to the selling of products over the internet.
What is an example of a B2C transaction?
So, if you've ever bought a pair of jeans from your favourite online store or purchased a book from Amazon, then you've been part of a B2C transaction. Although e-commerce is thought of as a relatively new concept, the idea was developed by Michael Aldrich way back in 1979.
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The rise of B2C transactions
Of course, as the popularity of the internet grew throughout the 1990s, so did the rise of B2C e-commerce. It’s now possible to buy almost any product you desire online, with e-commerce offering choice and convenience. It has also enabled smaller businesses to compete with bigger brands thanks to the low overheads associated with setting up an online store.
Providing the ultimate consumer experience
There are challenges for the B2C market, however. As websites are continually improving to become more user-friendly and eye-catching, B2C businesses need to keep up with developments. This can be costly and time-consuming, but if companies want their websites to render correctly on all devices and provide a seamless buying experience for consumers, they need to keep their sites updated.
What is the distinction between B2B and B2C and why is it important that business owners are cognizant of it?
- While B2B and B2C both involve the e-commerce transaction of selling a product or service, there are some crucial differences in terms of their branding, strategies and marketing. While B2B purchases are motived by logic and reason, B2C purchases are motivated by the target market’s emotion, whether that be attraction, fear or wanting status.
- Also, while B2B customers are always driven by need, B2C customers are driven by need, as well as wants or impulses. For instance, when supermarkets put sweets at the checkout.
- Another distinction that B2C businesses need to be aware of is the range of customers they have access to. B2B businesses tend to have a smaller pool of potential customers to target and, therefore, the brand needs to appeal to that particular niche. On the other hand, B2C companies tend to have a wider target customer base. The end goal is to establish brand awareness with as many target customers as possible, and they don’t have to appeal to every last one to succeed.
- B2B businesses are more focused on building relationships with their customers and often provide complete solutions; i.e. ongoing support, rather than just the product or service. However, B2C businesses tend to be more transactional, and the customer relationship generally lasts for a short time and is often a one-off.
There are also clear distinctions in terms of the buyer persona, product information, purchase price, sales cycle and other key features.
Consumer behaviours in the UK
The popularity of online shopping
There’s no getting away from the fact that Britain is a nation of online shoppers and this doesn’t look set to change any time soon. The ease and convenience of being able to compare products online, along with the increased choice and lower prices are cited as reasons for clicking rather than visiting stores.
According to Asendia’s UK B2C E-commerce report 2018, 16.4 percent of total retail sales were made online in 2017, compared to 14.7 percent the year before. A substantial contributory factor to this is the fact that a whopping 91 percent of UK consumers state that they use Amazon to purchase goods. This compares to just 56 percent globally.
This is hardly surprising when 86 percent of the UK population use the internet every day and spend around six hours online (Hootsuite). In March this year, 86 percent of the internet users searched online for a product and 81 percent went on to purchase something.
In order for B2C business owners to be able to engage with their target customer, they need to understand consumer behaviours and trends. But what do the British public want?
1. The right price
According to PwC, price is a significant factor for 59 percent of the public when deciding whether or not to buy a product. For this reason, price comparison sites are used by 35 percent to ensure they find the best deal possible.
As well as ensuring you offer competitive prices, you might also want to sell your products on Amazon. If you’re not selling your products there, the likelihood is someone else is (especially bearing in mind the statistic that we mentioned earlier).
2. To be rewarded with loyal schemes
It’s been found that 65 percent of the public consider themselves to be loyal shoppers, which is four percent higher than the global average. Also, 59 percent of 18-24-year olds believe that all brands should offer loyalty schemes.
Therefore, try to form connections with customers rather than just having short-term goals to maximise sales. Consider using social media adverts, personalised services and loyal schemes to build one-to-one relationships and reward customers.
Connecting with customers: B2C marketing
B2C marketing describes the tactics used by businesses to promote their products and services to consumers.
- Unsurprisingly, in this digital age, technology has had a significant impact on the way B2C marketers use marketing campaigns to reach their target audience. Even if consumers don’t intend to buy a product online, the web is usually a starting point to research different B2C businesses. This makes digital marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC (pay per click) and content marketing effective and inexpensive ways to advertise.
- SEO (search engine optimisation) is important, particularly for small businesses, so that they can compete with bigger marketing budgets. By using keywords and phrases within informative and engaging content, businesses can appear in the first few pages of search engine results, which increases traffic and potential customers.
- The popularity of content marketing, in particular, has grown massively in recent years. It has allowed business to educate and entertain potential customers to generate demand, rather than relying purely on traditional promotional techniques.
B2C businesses - can I start a franchise?
Hopefully, from reading this article, you are more able to answer: What does B2C mean? Due to current consumer behaviour, there is a push for B2C businesses to offer a competitive price, implement loyalty schemes and, if possible, sell on huge e-commerce sites like Amazon that are frequented by the majority of the British public.
If you want to start your own business in the sector, why not consider starting a franchise? For instance, you could join B2C franchise Local Appliance Rentals, which enables customers to rent appliances and furniture, and Platinum Business Partners, an online retailer that specialises in e-commerce. They’re both affordable and flexible, so simply click on their client pages to find out more. Intrigued by the topic? Have a look at another one of our articles addressing the difference between B2B and B2C marketing.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©