Table of contents
Table of contents
- Defining B2B2C e-commerce
- The difference between B2B2C, D2C, and channel partnerships
- The benefits of B2B2C e-commerce
- The challenges of B2B2C
- Options and requirements for embracing a B2B2C
B2B2C e-commerce enables businesses to access the customers of another business (or businesses) while selling from and maintaining control over their brand.
Defining B2B2C e-commerce
Businesses used to have to choose between a B2B or B2C model. But with the rise of e-commerce, new models have appeared — and are expected to expand. One is B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) e-commerce.
A B2B2C model offers the best of both worlds, enabling businesses to access the customers of another business while still selling from their brand.
Two examples you’ve likely heard of, or even used, are Instacart and UberEATS. In both cases, the businesses team up with one another and sell directly to consumers.
On one side of the B2B2C e-commerce equation, grocery stores or restaurants benefit from accessing the customers that want the convenience of the Instacart or UberEATS apps, without having to design an app, market it, or hire delivery drivers.
On the other side, the apps benefit from the businesses’ brand recognition and trust, access to the customers of the businesses using the apps, not to mention the goods of the businesses, whether a grocery store’s inventory or a 5-star cheeseburger.
Of course, the customers win as well, with groceries or dinner delivered to their door.
The difference between B2B2C, D2C, and channel partnerships
Direct to consumer (D2C) is another popular model today, where companies skip the middleman and sell directly to customers through a digital channel.
While D2C is easy to distinguish from a B2B2C commerce model, channel partnerships are a little trickier. But the difference is easy to see once it’s made clear. With a channel partnership, one company sells products to another company, which then sells them to a consumer. In a B2B2C business model, no company buys from another — they both sell directly to the consumer.
The benefits of B2B2C e-commerce
We already saw some of the benefits in the examples above, but let’s clearly spell them out:
1) Operational savings
Whether we’re talking grocery inventory or cutting-edge technology, businesses get to piggyback off one another by teaming up in a B2B2C e-commerce model. The savings can be far reaching — from inventory and warehousing to marketing dollars.
2) Maintain control
While expanding brand recognition, B2B2C models allow both companies to maintain control over pricing and their respective brands. In the case of UberEATS, it’s clear when you order that you’re ordering from a specific restaurant, not Uber. Likewise, restaurants set their prices, and Uber charges their fee.
3) Easier expansion
Whether entering an entirely new market or just greatly expanding a customer base, when businesses partner in a B2B2C e-commerce model, they can expand greatly with much less effort.
4) Customer data
Most B2B2C partnerships include customer data sharing. This is a massive benefit to both businesses, as each can use this data to refine their customer experience further. But this requires real-time integrations between the businesses. Whether it’s product stock and inventory, pricing and promos, marketing and sales, or more, business and customer data must be synced and analyzed for the right insights. If the businesses don’t have equal access to the data, the customer experience can be fragmented.
This leads us to the challenges.
The challenges of B2B2C
A commitment to digital transformation
Whether integrating data, managing orders, or ensuring a smooth customer experience, there are significant challenges in a B2B2C model. A composable commerce solution is essential, but so is a commitment to digital transformation and maturity.
Aligning needs and operations
UberEATS and Instacart are great examples because they’re straightforward models. The benefits for each business and app are easy to understand, and the tradeoffs are minimal. As other business look to capitalize on this model, they’ll need to balance their own needs with the needs of the business with which they partner.
Take the case of sharing customer data. While a restaurant is not in competition with UberEATS, for example, they are with the other restaurants using the app. They may not want other businesses to gain an advantage from the customer data they share with Uber. Or, the tradeoff may be worth it, assuming they get second-hand access to other restaurants’ customer data.
The brand is shared
While companies maintain significant brand control in a B2B2C business model, they still need to release some of it. We’ll stick with the UberEATS example. A pizza restaurant might get its first order from a new customer via the Uber app. This is great, until the Uber driver gets lost during the delivery. When the customer finally gets their pizza, it’s cold.
While the restaurant would hope the customer would blame Uber and give them another chance, this isn’t the case here. The customer never eats there again, and when asked by friends about the place, he never mentions UberEATS, only that the pizza didn’t meet expectations.
This is, admittedly, a bit of a worst-case scenario, but it’s worth considering all the risks from a brand perspective when embracing this model.
Options and requirements for embracing a B2B2C
While there are real risks to consider, the benefits of a B2B2C partnership will far outweigh those potential risks for many businesses.
The first thing that’s needed is a partner. While we stuck with simple examples throughout to make this model clear, there are a lot of other B2B2C models out there. Here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing.
Manufacturer and brick-and-mortar retailer
In this example, the retailer doesn’t purchase the products from the manufacturer. But they do let them place them in their store and collect a small fee with every sale.
Manufacturer and Amazon
Amazon is likely the best-known e-commerce channel for getting products to end customers. The benefit is the vast customer base of Amazon. The downside is they aren’t going to share much, if any, of their customer data with you.
Manufacturer, an app, and a Salesforce integration with TaskRabbit
In this example, a furniture manufacturer launches an intuitive mobile app, where consumers can purchase furniture. Once purchased, they can click an option to get help putting the furniture together. The app logs this into Salesforce, which sends the request to TaskRabbit.
A TaskRabbit user then picks the job from the TaskRabbit app, which sends this choice through Salesforce and into the manufacturer’s mobile app. Finally, furniture consumers can finalize the time and price on the mobile app based on the shipping ETA. The TaskRabbit user shows up at the right date and time and gets paid, TaskRabbit charges a small fee, and everybody wins.
Hopefully, this last example clarifies why digital maturity and a commitment to digital transformation are essential today. While the process outlined above may seem simple enough, the technology to make it happen requires data sharing, processing, and integrations.
For businesses that want to embrace a similar B2B2C model, or just remain open to the future models that are sure to arise in the ever-evolving e-commerce landscape, an open, extensible, and interoperable commerce solution is essential. (Learn more about the 5-pillars of successful e-commerce today.
This is why Sitecore has invested heavily on our commitment to composable commerce solutions — with their embrace of a MACH approach. As your approach to commerce shifts, your business model changes, or unexpected opportunities arise, a composable commerce solution can easily evolve and scale to meet the needs of your business.