Business-to-Consumer (B2C) ecommerce is the exchange of goods or services over the internet between online marketplaces and individual customers. Consumer preference for the user experience of online shopping — coupled with the ease of starting an online store — has made ecommerce among the fastest-growing sectors of the world economy.
By 2021, the global B2C ecommerce market size was valued at $3.86 trillion and is projected to reach nearly $7.5 trillion by 2030, making it a massive market with immense opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Why have B2C ecommerce sales grown so viable? Primarily because it simplifies the shopping experience for both consumers and vendors.
Successful online stores can be launched in a matter of weeks, while shoppers appreciate the ease of the customer experience when making essential purchases from the comfort of their own homes or through apps on their smartphones.
Regardless of their size, B2C presents an option with tremendous potential for any business — as long as they know what they’re looking for.
There are many several types of B2C business models, including:
Direct sellers — sometimes referred to as direct-to-consumer (DTC) sellers — are the most common online B2C business model and rely on customers making online sales directly from the seller.
These are the online retailers that sell products either from their own brand or various alternative brands.
With B2C dropshipping, businesses do not have to hold inventory and only place product orders as they come in from customers. This means no packaging, shipping or storage costs as they fall on the supplier instead.
For online retailers, wholesalers and small businesses, dropshipping can be a beneficial business solution as it can lead to significant profits while cutting down on extraneous costs.
Online intermediaries act as the link between buyers and sellers. They do not own products, services or brands — their job is to provide a platform for the buyers and sellers to trade.
Larger companies that act as online intermediates include Etsy and Expedia.
With a community-based ecommerce platform, businesses leverage online forums and communities with a large user base related to the products and services they wish to sell.
By using these platforms, businesses can take advantage of a pre-existing space to promote and raise awareness of their ecommerce capabilities.
A fee-based ecommerce model charges customers via subscription in exchange for using their websites and unrestricted access to their content.
In the online world, this is an increasingly common B2C business model. Companies that use it include Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.
Advertisement-based B2C ecommerce do not own any products or services. They help sellers to put out news about their business by creating traffic around online content.
This is accomplished by selling advertisements for products and services that other companies own. Many social media platforms and journalistic entities use this much such as Twitter, Huffington Post and the Guardian.
Despite whichever B2C ecommerce model you choose, there are many potential benefits, including:
When your business is moved online, you open the way to more information about your customers — which means more ways to target them directly.
Through online tools like Google Analytics, you can uncover demographic information about customers to craft detailed customer profiles. This can inform how you talk to customers and which ones you should be pursuing.
Every transaction takes place online with B2C ecommerce, removing the need for physical storefronts.
By no longer needing to maintain a physical, brick-and-mortar location, businesses can excise the expensive overhead costs of things like rent, property taxes, maintenance, utility bills and insurance.
Additionally, if you’re using a dropshipping method, you can limit costs related to inventory purchases and warehouse space.
With online B2C ecommerce, a business can better segment customers to personalize their B2C marketing campaigns. By prioritizing marketing personalization, you are better able to see where customers make their selections in the customer journey and where your efforts to target them should occur.
Through the use of different online marketing strategies and tools, you can also optimize and track metrics such as SEO, conversion rates, shopping cart abandonment rates and ecommerce website traffic.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of B2C commerce is the expansive reach that it can provide, across nations and even the entire world.
Whether it’s a small commerce business operating out of a single location or massive conglomerates, online B2C ecommerce allows providers to sell to potential customers all over the globe, often regardless of the product or service.
As B2C ecommerce continues to grow in popularity, there will invariably be successful businesses that have come from it. So far, two of the most popular examples include:
Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world and a primary example of the potential of B2C ecommerce.
The massive company has driven much of its success from its fee-based structure, charging customers for its subscription service, Amazon Prime. For a reasonable cost each year, customers gain access to a massive catalog and can have products shipped to it as soon as hours.
A name most Americans know, Walmart is another company that ranks among the largest in the world. It began its reign as a classic example of a brick-and-mortar franchise, offering nationwide locations.
As B2C ecommerce grew in stature, Walmart quickly adopted it, acting not just as a direct seller but as an option for private and white label sellers.
As B2C ecommerce continues to grow, the opportunities available for forward-thinking, entrepreneurial ecommerce businesses will only continue to grow alongside it.
No matter who you are — or how big your online business is — as long as you have a product in mind, a target audience and the gumption to get it done, B2C ecommerce holds a world of potential.
Now that you know what to look for, it’s up to you to get started.
The differences between these two business models are generally straightforward.
B2B ecommerce stands for business-to-business and refers to when a business sells its product or service to another company.
B2C ecommerce refers to business-to-consumer and relates to companies that sell their products or services directly to the end-user.
With the proper focus, customer profile and product, any B2C ecommerce platform has the potential for success.
As stated above, one of the great things about an increasingly digital, connected world is that any company can participate in B2C companies, whether you’re one of the larger companies like eBay, Alibaba or Etsy, or a startup.
As we so helpfully listed above, there are many advantages and benefits of B2C ecommmerce.
If it had to be boiled down into a single one, the most significant advantage would be that as long as you have a customer base, you can sell almost anything you want, from wherever you are.
B2C requires two things: a business and an interested customer.