Advantages & Disadvantages of B2B

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017
Dock Workers Loading A Delivery Truck

A business-to-business operation is a company that sells goods or services to other companies as opposed to consumers. Relative to a retailer or direct-to-consumer business, a B2B has several important strengths and weaknesses that you need to recognize before starting or investing in one.

Market Predictability and Stability

B2B markets enjoy more predictability and stability. Whereas consumer sentiment ebbs and flows quickly, B2B sectors tend to evolve more gradually. After you secure relationships with your buyers, your ability to supply them may last for at least a year or longer. In fact, B2B buyers often sign contracts with suppliers to guarantee pricing and terms. These contracts allow you to plan revenue budgets with accuracy.

More Customer Loyalty

The evolution of supply chain management and a collaborative mindset in distribution channels contributes to high levels of customer loyalty. After you establish a relationship with a buyer and prove your dependability as a supplier, it is typical to have an ongoing commitment. B2B buyers do not have the luxury of being as fickle as consumers. It is costly and time-consuming for company buyers to make major changes in product or service suppliers. Companies and their customers rely on consistency in product quality, service dependability and value. As long as you take care of your responsibilities, loyalty is a B2B strength.

Smaller Customer Pool

The number of potential buyers in a B2B market is much lower than in a typical consumer market. You sell to the businesses that then sell to customers. If you make niche products or offer specialized services to a small industry, you may only have 10 to 20 customers in a given geographic area. Even if your goods or services have broader appeal among businesses, the pool of companies is diminished because many have established supplier networks. You not only have to go after unattached buyers, but you need to steal customers away to generate enough revenue to survive.

Marketing Challenges

B2B companies face significant marketing challenges relative to B2C peers. Digital marketing is especially challenging. Whereas B2B companies rely heavily on content marketing and social media to attract online users, B2B businesses have a much harder time. Social media is used by B2Cs to engage consumers. The way you interact with B2B users online and in social media is more complex. Therefore, B2B providers must plan carefully and invest in quality staff or outside agencies to benefit from these digital tools.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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