The difference between doing Business-to-Consumer (B2C) or Business-to-Business (B2B) reflects itself in many IT enabled disciplines.
When it comes to Product Information Management (PIM) this is true as well. As PIM has become essential with the rise of eCommerce, some of the differences are inherited from the eCommerce discipline. There is a discussion on this in a post on the Shopify blog by Ross Simmonds. The post is called B2B vs B2C Ecommerce: What’s The Difference?
Some significant observations to go into the PIM realm is that for B2B, compared to B2C:
- The audience is (on average) narrower
- The price is (on average) higher
- The decision process is (on average) more thoughtful
How these circumstances affect the difference for PIM was exemplified here on the blog in the post Work Clothes versus Fashion: A Product Information Perspective.
To sum up the differences I would say that some of the technology you need, for example PIM solutions, is basically the same but the data to go into these solutions must be more elaborate and stringent for B2B. This means that for B2B, compared to B2C, you (on average) need:
- More complete and more consistent attributes (specifications, features, properties) for each product and these should be more tailored to each product group.
- More complete and consistent product relations (accessories, replacements, spare parts) for each product.
- More complete and consistent digital assets (images, line drawings, certificates) for each product.
How to achieve that involves deep collaboration in the supply chains of manufacturers, distributors and merchants. The solutions for that was examined in the post The Long Tail of Product Data Synchronization.
This sort of thinking on the differences between B2B and B2C has been around since the year dot (or thereabouts) in sales 6 marketing, but is it really still valid?. I would argue (being slightly “devil’s advocate”) that it’s probably more relevant to think about what sort of purchase your product is to the customer (low-involvement vs. high-involvement, share-of-budget, share-of-mind etc.) and understand how they make a decision. Think about if you sell complex, expensive products that are bought infrequently and are critical to the customer’s mission vs if you sell products that are bought frequently, are cheap and less critical to the mission (office supplies, food staples etc.). I think that those factors are much better predictors of what the customer’s information needs and expectations are than B2B vs. B2C segments.
Point taken. These considerations are on average. There are for sure not so few examples where there is an elaborate demand for extended product information in B2C as well as examples of a not so elaborate demand (as you mention with office supplies etc) in B2B.
Exactly. “Fit for purpose” rears it’s ugly head once again 😉
I think it doesn’t matter for companies to which sector (B2B or B2C) they belong, when choosing a PIM system. Nowadays modern PIM solutions (like Akeneo and Treo PIM) can be adapted to any need and are suitable for both B2B and B2C.