Airplanes in Supermarkets

How would you feel if you needed to fit an airplane in a standard shopping cart?


Forrester Research estimates that by the end of 2013, B2B e-commerce turnover will reach more than twice the size of B2C in key markets like the US. This fact will probably come as a surprise to most people, since the financial importance of the B2C e-commerce sector obviously stands in stark contrast to the media attention it gets. One reason might be that B2C relies much more heavily on media marketing to sell products. Another, that consumer experiences are much more driven by spectacle and emotion than it is the case in B2B.

In any case, though, it is safe to say that the highly polished B2C experiences that we encounter as consumers today influence our expectations as B2B buyers tomorrow. Success will therefore rely in no small part on how well we can transport learnings from consumer driven web experiences to the B2B sector while keeping in mind that key differences will remain, because differences definitely do exist.

Here a list of the key differences we see between B2B and B2C.




Impulse buyer driven by price and opportunity
Mostly based on standing relationships
Hard to track across sales channels
Customer has same identity across all channels
Standard prices at least across customer segments
Individual pricing often based on negotiations
One person decision
Multiple decision makers involved in purchasing process (sign off, etc.)
Payment part of ordering process
Payment mostly based on contract
Low frequency buyers
Often high frequency buyers
Primarily emotional buyer
Primarily rational buyer
Orders mostly contain less than ten items
Orders can contain hundreds of items
Mistakes mostly just cause time loss
Mistakes can cause massive financial loss
Mistakes mostly just cause time loss
Multiple decision makers involved in purchasing process (sign off, etc.)
One type of customer across all industries: the consumer
Different customer processes in different industries