The relationship between a business and its customers is always evolving. In the past, consumers had to visit brick-and-mortar establishments to buy products and services. But the internet now allows people to conduct these types of transactions remotely from their desktop computers and mobile devices – anytime and anywhere. In fact, over half (51 percent) of Americans prefer shopping online rather than in store.
But turning a profit within a competitive online landscape requires an understanding of customers’ needs and expectations. It helps to go back to the fundamentals. What is e-commerce, and what are the basics of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce?
B2C e-commerce basics
Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce entails companies selling goods or services directly to consumers. When most people think of e-commerce, this is the model they envision. If you’ve ever purchased something from a business online, anything from a pair of shoes to a subscription box, you’ve participated in a B2C transaction.
User experience is paramount in B2C e-commerce because shoppers hold retailers responsible for facilitating the entire online shopping journey from start to finish. Business News Daily writes, “As websites continue to become flashier and more user-friendly, it’s up to the business to keep its site intuitive and easy to navigate.”
The more hurdles standing between consumers and checkout completion, the more likely they are to abandon their journey before finishing the transaction. Even when shoppers add products to shopping carts, it’s no guarantee your online store will earn their conversion. In fact, the average shopping cart abandonment rate in B2C online commerce varies between 60% and 80%, with an average of 67.91%.
The takeaway here is consumers are at the center of this model; the quality of their online shopping experience will make or break a retailer’s bottom line.
B2C marketing essentials
Another challenge associated with the B2C model is marketing. Consumers can only buy what they can find—and with so many choices a few clicks away, it’s imperative B2C merchants market themselves well to drive traffic.
B2C is, by definition, very broad. Billions of people around the world shop online. While casting a wide net might seem, at first glance, like the best strategy to attract the most consumers, this strategy is actually counterproductive. Why? Because not every consumer is going to want your product or service. If you market to anyone, you’ll effectively throw away ad spend on driving people to your website who are not necessarily ideal customers for your product lineup.
A savvier strategy involves homing in on your target audience before you craft your overall marketing strategy. The best way to appeal to a customer is to know who they are, what they like and what value you can provide to them. As one Forbes contributor writes, consumers often think along the lines of, “How does this make my life better?”
In other words, as a B2C retailer you need a unique selling proposition (USP) to convey why customers within your target audience should buy from your store over a competitor’s. Do you offer exclusive designs or products? Do you facilitate free and fast order fulfillment? Are your products ethically sourced from sustainable materials? Conveying your USP to consumers is a major part of branding your online store.
It’s an exciting time to be an online retailer because the ability to sell online opens up new opportunities for merchants. Knowing the basics of business-to-consumer e-commerce will help you market and sell more effectively. This is why e-commerce entrepreneurs are increasingly focused on providing a smooth and convenient shopping experience. This is the key to remaining competitive in an ever-changing landscape.
A self-proclaimed gadget freak, freelance writer Jake Anderson loves getting his hands on every piece of gadget I can afford. Awestruck by Star Trek as a kid, he has been relentless in pursuit of covering big technological innovations which will shape the future.