Did you know that B2B customers are demanding the same frictionless, personalized experiences as their B2C counterparts? Our fireside chat with guest speaker Emily Pfeiffer explores the reasons why, how to deliver these experiences and other unmissable eCommerce insights.

We got together with guest speaker Emily Pfeiffer, Principal Analyst at Forrester, for a fantastic fireside chat hosted by FactFinder’s Iain Gray and Lauren Evans. Together, we explore what’s stirring the B2B eCommerce pot: the critical need for improved product discovery, including AI personalization and onsite search. This is a deep dive into how B2B buying behaviors are increasingly mirroring those of B2C, driven by the same demand for frictionless, tailor-made shopping experiences. 

Check out the recording for yourself.

In the meantime, keep scrolling for a high-level overview of what we discussed. 

Blurring lines between B2B and B2C behaviors

During our enriching discussion, Emily, Iain and Lauren delved into the shifting paradigms of B2B eCommerce, noting a significant redefinition of the boundaries traditionally separating B2B and B2C practices. Emily summed it up nicely, saying, “The B2B buying behavior is very strongly influenced at this point by the expectations of consumers because they’re the same people. B2B and B2C shoppers are both consumers.” This observation paved the way for our exploration into the merging worlds of B2B and B2C, emphasizing the critical influences and shared behaviors across these sectors. 

“B2B buyers want to get straight to what they need. They are looking to search for it immediately – and even more so because in B2B it is often a need, not a want. Consumers can shop for fun; B2B buyers are usually shopping out of necessity.”

Emily Pfeiffer, Principal Analyst at Forrester

What B2B can learn from B2C buying expectations

It became evident through our conversation that B2B platforms are in a prime position to embrace and adapt the exemplary user experience, sophisticated search functionalities and notably, the AI-powered personalization that have become hallmarks of B2C platforms. However, translating these elements into the B2B context necessitates a strategic and thoughtful approach, recognizing the unique requirements and complexities of B2B transactions. Iain captured the essence of this adaptation: “This is about showing the right product at the right time with the right price – giving customers a personal view of what they need to see.”

“The most important trend we’ve seen in commerce search is the use of personalization to create a holistic, targeted shopping experience. It’s not enough to show the best sellers – we have to show the products that are most relevant.”

Emily Pfeiffer, Principal Analyst at Forrester

The differences in B2B and B2C

Our conversation evolved to spotlight how, despite overarching similarities, B2B and B2C markets diverge in several key areas, necessitating bespoke strategies: 

a. Personalization strategies: We delved into the nuanced world of AI personalization within B2B, contrasting it with B2C approaches. The focus was on the intricate use of first versus third-party data to sculpt the B2B buying journey. This part of the discussion illuminated how personalization in B2B extends beyond individual preferences to encompass broader organizational needs, influenced by buying patterns ranging from bulk orders to specific, individual purchases. Want to learn more about this tech? Check out how we do it. 

b. Buying behavior: The dialogue explored the distinct buying behaviors characterizing B2B transactions. Unlike B2C’s often impulsive buying decisions, B2B purchases are marked by a more considered approach, involving larger order volumes and a strategic focus on long-term partnerships and supply chain reliability. 

c. Data & complexity: A significant portion of our talk was dedicated to the complexity inherent in managing B2B data. The multifaceted nature of B2B transactions, coupled with the need for detailed product information and customization options, presents unique challenges and opportunities for leveraging data to enhance user experiences. 

“Zero-party data has huge implications in B2B. This is where we really understand the customer and where they want us to know them. They are often willing to offer up their data but they must feel that it is used to create a better, more relevant experience for them.”

Emily Pfeiffer, Principal Analyst at Forrester

Emily also explored why this subject is a brand-new category in the Forrester Wave™, known specifically as Commerce Search and Product Discovery, sharing her excitement about its impact on eCommerce. For a deeper look at how FactFinder is playing a key role in this category, check out the article.

Looking ahead and wrapping up

n wrapping up, it’s evident that the journey into the next phase of eCommerce, enriched by personalization, automation and AI, is pivotal for brands across both B2C and B2B, and is creating overlaps between the two. But we’ve only scratched the surface today. To dive deeper and explore actionable insights, the full digital chat awaits – an opportunity not just to understand but to transform how you engage with your eCommerce strategy. 
And if you fancy a talk with an expert to go over everything covered, where we can discuss your business needs and answer any questions, then get in touch by hitting the button below. 

See you at the next fireside chat.