A story of two B2B companies whose business philosophies and market position led them down two different B2B2C ecommerce tracks. Both are market leaders in their categories and have been successfully selling their products at big box retail stores for several years with strong B2B networks.
Company #1 launched a B2B ecommerce site to support their channel partners. A B2C site to sell direct to the consumer was to launch in Phase II. As part of a staged rollout process, the company informed their dealer and retailer community of their upcoming B2C ecommerce strategy and assured them that their channel relationship remained unchanged.
The B2C site was launched without fear of channel conflict. The Company knew that their big box retailer partners carry thousands of products in their stores and that the number of sales lost to the new site would have little impact on the retailer’s bottom line.
Company #1’s dealer channel was presented with an increase in product awareness offered by the new site and a Dealer Locator tool was created on the B2C site which helped direct individuals to local dealer locations. Knowing that some customers would still prefer to purchase in person, the dealer channel took the site for what it was—a way to advertise and promote their products without cost to them—and benefitted from the increased foot traffic from the store locator tool.
During a website overhaul at Company #2, the question was raised of whether to include B2C ecommerce functionality or not in the new site launch. Management was concerned about potential channel conflicts with its dealer locations
After much discussion, Company #2 decided to create a B2C presence on the Internet, but rather than offer direct-to-consumer ecommerce functionality, they decided to feature a dealer locator tool that directed interested visitors to the store nearest them offering the Company’s products.
Company #1 and Company #2 each took a very different path to bringing their traditional B2B business direct to the consumer. Is one path better than the other?
Not necessarily. The key is to never stop moving forward. Both companies will need to continue evaluating their business models, evaluating the competition and digitally transforming to disrupt it.